Biography of William Clark
Prominent Persons in Virginia, Biographies





Clark, William, was born in Caroline county, Virginia, August 1, 1770, son of John and Ann (Rogers) Clark, and grandson of Jonathan and Elizabeth (Wilson) Clark. When he was fourteen his family removed to Kentucky, settling on the site of the present city of Louisville, where his brother, George Rogers Clark, erected a fort, in 1777. This place at the time was the scene of frequent Indian raids, and young William grew up with a vast experience of the methods of Indian warfare and an intimate knowledge of their habits. At the age of nineteen he participated in Col. John Hardin's expedition against the Indians across the Ohio, was made an ensign in 1791, served under Scott and Wilkinson against the Indians on the Wabash, was commissioned lieutenant of infantry, March 7, 1792, and in December was assigned to the fourth sub legion. He was appointed adjutant and quartermaster, in September, 1793. served against the Indians and under Gen. Wayne, and in July, 1796, resigned, owing to ill health. He subsequently regained his health by turning trapper and hunter. About 1804 William Clark removed to St. Louis, Missouri, and in March President Jefferson commissioned him second lieutenant of artillery, ordering him to join Capt. Meriwether Lewis in an exploring expedition from St. Louis to the mouth of the Columbia river. This expedition lasted two years and was the first to the Pacific coast. The success of the explorations, attended by incredible privations and hardships, where no white man ever set his foot before, was in large measure due to Capt. Clark's knowledge of Indian character and habits. He was military director of the expedition and kept a journal, subsequently published by the United States government. On September 23, 1806, the expedition reurned to St. Louis, and Capt. Clark went to Washington. Congress granted him 1,000 acres from the public domain, and on May 2, 1807, he resigned from the army, having been nominated to be governor of Louisiana territory a few days before. His commission for the latter office was dated March 3, 1807, and about the same time he was appointed a general of the territorial militia and Indian agent. In the latter office he remained until July 1, 1813, when he was appointed governor of the Missouri territory, by President Madison. When Missouri applied for admission into the Union in 1813, a controversy followed whether it should be a free or slave state. In anticipation of the admission of the state an election was held August 28, and Clark was defeated for governor by Alexander McNair. In May, 1822, he was appointed superintendent of Indian affairs at St. Louis by President Monroe. He held this office until his death, in St. Louis, Missouri, September 1, 1838. Clark's Fork, an important branch of the Missouri, was named in his honor, and Lewis and Clark county, Montana, is in joint remembrance of the two explorers.

Also see [ Meriwether Lewis ]

FROM:
Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography
Volume II
By: Lyon Gardiner Tyler, LL. D.
Lewis Historical Publishing Company
New York 1915



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