Meriwether Lewis (August 18, 1774 – October 11, 1809) was an American explorer, soldier, and public administrator, best known for his role as the leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition also known as the Corps of Discovery, with William Clark, whose mission was to explore the territory of the Louisiana Purchase, establish trade and sovereignty over the natives near the Missouri River, and claim the Pacific Northwest and Oregon territory for the United States before European nations. They also collected scientific data, and information on indigenous nations. President Thomas Jefferson appointed him Governor of Upper Louisiana in 1806.
Meriwether Lewis was born in Albemarle County, Virginia, in the present-day community of Ivy. He was the son of Lt. William Lewis of Locust Hill (1733 – November 17, 1779), who was of Welsh ancestry, and Lucy Meriwether (February 4, 1752 – September 8, 1837), daughter of Thomas Meriwether and Elizabeth Thornton. (Thornton was the daughter of Francis Thornton and Mary Taliaferro). He moved with his mother and stepfather Captain John Marks to Georgia in May of 1780. His older brother Nicholas Lewis became his guardian. They settled along the Broad River in the Goosepond Community within the Broad River Valley in Wilkes County (now Oglethorpe County).
During his time in Georgia, Lewis enhanced his skills as a hunter and outdoorsman. He would often venture out in the middle of the night in the dead of winter with only his dogs to go hunting. Even at his early age he was interested in natural history, which would develop into a lifelong passion. His mother taught him how to gather wild herbs for medicinal purposes. It was also in the Broad River Valley that Lewis first dealt with a native Indian group. The Cherokee lived in antagonistic proximity to the white settlers, but Lewis seems to have been a champion for them amongst his own people. It was in Georgia that he met Eric Parker, who was the first to introduce him to the idea of traveling. At thirteen, he was sent back to Virginia for education by private tutors. One of these was Parson Matthew Maury, an uncle of Matthew Fontaine Maury. Parson Maury was a son of Charles Goodyear Maury who was Thomas Jefferson's teacher for two years. In 1793, Lewis graduated from Liberty Hall (now Washington and Lee University), joined the Virginia militia, and in 1794 he was sent as part of a detachment involved in putting down the Whiskey Rebellion.