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“The impression has long prevailed that under the influence of disease and body—of hopes based upon long and valuable services—not merely deferred but wholly disappointed—Governor Lewis perished by his own hands. It seems to be more probable that he died by the hands of an assassin.”
Ever since Donald Jackson published the so-called “Russell Statement” in his 1962 edition of the Letters of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, it has served as a leading document supporting the suicide theory. Jackson discovered this document, which was later proven to be a forgery, in the papers of Jonathan Williams at the University of Indiana Lilly Library. Jonathan Williams was the first superintendent of the West Point Academy and a close personal friend of General James Wilkinson.
Brad Meltzer, bestselling author of thriller mysteries, has a 10 part series on the History Channel called Brad Meltzer’s Decoded. In episode two, Presidential Secret Codes, he argues for the exhumation of Meriwether Lewis’s remains to determine whether he was murdered or committed suicide. In this episode, new evidence supporting the murder theory is presented for the first time. Meltzer’s team of investigators, Buddy Levy, Christine McKinley and Scott Rolle, investigate the case while driving a black Porsche around the Tennessee countryside. (Porsche is a sponsor of the series.) The new evidence is presented by Tony Turnbow, a lawyer, who has researched the death of Lewis for many years. Turnbow, who practices law in Franklin, Tennessee, examined court house records concerning James Neelly, who was accompanying Lewis on his travels just before his death. Major Neelly has long been a prime suspect in the conspiracy to assassinate Lewis.
The first of a series of blogs based on the book The Death of Meriwether Lewis: A Historic Crime Scene Investigation by James E. Starrs and Kira Gale. www.deathofmeriwetherlewis.com...
William Clark seems to have been fooled by James Wilkinson at three different times in his life—first, when he didn’t realize that Wilkinson had sabotaged the career of his older brother George Rogers Clark in 1786—then, when he served under General Wilkinson in 1790-94 during the Indian Wars and took Wilkinson’s side in his feud with General “Mad Anthony” Wayne—and, finally, when he believed the story of his friend Meriwether Lewis’s suicide.
Like many young officers, Clark admired the charismatic Wilkinson. The great historian Frederick Jackson Turner described Wilkinson as “the most consummate artist in treason the nation ever possessed.”