|Before dawn on October 11, 1809, Meriwether
co-leader of the epic Lewis and Clark Expedition, died from two gunshot
wounds. No one witnessed the shooting at a crude inn along the Natchez
Trace in Tennessee. But people on the scene shortly afterward concluded
that the then-governor of Upper Louisiana had taken his own life.
William Clark and Thomas Jefferson agreed.
For two centuries the question has persisted: Was Lewis’
death a suicide, an accident, or a homicide? By His Own
Hand? is the first book to analyze the evidence and
consider the murder-versus-suicide debate within its full historical
The historian contributors to this volume follow the format of a
postmortem court trial. Clay S. Jenkinson outlines the facts and
describes the evidentiary problems. James J. Holmberg makes the case
for suicide. John D. W. Guice dissects the suicide argument, showing
how the same scant evidence, when examined from a different
perspective, suggests that Lewis was murdered. Jay H. Buckley assesses
the strengths and weaknesses of the pro-suicide and pro-murder
arguments. A documents section permits readers to examine the key
evidence for themselves and reach their own conclusions..
By His Own Hand?
edited by John D. W. Guice
University of Oklahoma Press,