In the spring of 1807, David McKeehan, who owned and operated a book and stationary store in Pittsburgh, convinced Patrick Gass to let him publish the first journal of the Expedition. As such, McKeehan released a prospectus of the forthcoming book in the April 28, 1807 edition of the Pittsburgh Gazette (see far left column).
The prospectus explained details of “a Journal of the Voyages & Travels of a Corps of Discovery, under the command of Captain Lewis and Captain Clark of the Army of the United States, from the mouth of the river Missouri through the interior parts of North America to the Pacific Ocean, during the years 1804, 1805 & 1806.”
Meriwether Lewis had learned of Gass’s publishing plans at about this same time, and clearly wasn’t pleased. He tried to “warn the public” by publishing a letter about a week before the Gass prospectus was released. His letter was meant to advise the public, to “put them on their guard with respect to such publications, lest from the practice of such impositions they may be taught to depreciate the worth of the work which I am myself preparing for publication before it can possibly appear.”
Lewis’s letter spurred a response from McKeehan which was filled with criticism, sarcasm and accusations of the Expedition’s leader.
The publisher made it very clear he was intending to proceed with Gass’s journal without asking or obtaining Lewis’s permission.
The first edition was released in the summer of 1807 and six follow-up editions were issued before 1814, when Lewis and Clark’s journals were finally released.
Last updated: April 18, 2018