Nearly 200-year-old love story has famous historical personages

June 25, 2014

In a book about William Clark of the 1804-06 Lewis and Clark expedition fame, I found a neat story about Clark’s first child, a son.  His name became Meriwether Lewis Clark after the expedition’s other leader.  The family called him Lewis.
Secretary of War John C. Calhoun authorized the appointment of the young Lewis to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.  His father wrote him many letters of advice.  The young cadet was so terrified of his first exams that he told Clark he wanted to resign, but he passed them after all.  He stayed on and graduated in 1830.  His first assignment as a second lieutenant was to Jefferson Barracks (named after Thomas Jefferson) in St. Louis.  The young Lewis’s father had made his home in St. Louis after his famous Western trip concluded.  William’s first wife, Julia (Lewis’s mother) died, and in 1821 Clark married her first cousin, Harriet Radford, a widow with three children.  One of the three was a nine-year-old named Mary Radford who thus became Lewis’s step-sister and second cousin on his mother’s side.  In a few years the pretty young Mary attracted attention from the young men of St. Louis, including Lewis, but he was away in school much of the time after she joined the household.

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Category: Opinions