Little Known Facts - 2

The “Lewis and Hooke Expedition” …. doesn’t sound quite right does it? However, that pairing could have constituted the history-making partnership that carried out President Thomas Jefferson’s vision of an American-led transcontinental expedition in the first decade of the 19th century.

Shortly after Meriwether Lewis was given command of the president’s bold venture and preparations were moving forward with all deliberate speed, he recommended that a second military officer accompany the band of explorers in case some misfortune led to his death or incapacitation. Jefferson agreed. Lewis already had someone in mind. In an oft-quoted letter, he invited his former commanding officer, William Clark of Kentucky, to become his co-commander; one who would share equally in the duties and responsibilities of leading the expedition and in the satisfactions and rewards upon its successful completion.

As a precaution, however, while awaiting Clark’s reply, Lewis issued a contingent invitation to Lieutenant Moses Hooke, a 26-year old soldier with whom he had served and held in high regard. Hooke was stationed at a nearby army post in Pittsburgh and could be ready to join the expedition on short notice should Clark choose to decline Lewis’s invitation to fame and glory.

Thus, if Clark had found the opportunity unappealing and declined it, future generations of historians would have been researching and writing about the “Lewis and Hooke Expedition”!

Dr. H. Carl Camp

Sources: Stephen E. Ambrose, Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996), p. 99 and p.135.

Roy E. Appleman, Lewis & Clark’s Transcontinental Exploration, 1804-1806 (Washington, D.C., United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1975), pp. 48-49.

Stephenie Ambrose Tubbs, The Lewis and Clark Companion: An Encyclopedic Guide to the Voyage of Discovery (Henry Holt and Company, 2003), pp. 151-152.

Last updated: December 13, 2016

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