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    Meriwether Lewis Autograph Letter Signed "Meriwether Lewis." Four pages, 8" x 9.5", Washington, D.C.; March 10, 1803. Composed two months before he embarked on his famous expedition westward with William Clark. Addressed to Mrs. Humphreys, the widow of Dr. Alexander Humphreys, who Lewis had ordered medical supplies from during his time as an officer in the Quasi-War with France. Lewis objects to the expenses incurred during his military service, debt that he believes should be paid by the federal government. The letter reads in part:

    "By the request of your brother Mr. Preston W. Brown I have taken the liberty of addressing you on the subject of certain moneys which he mentions as now appearing to my Debt, and unsatisfied on the books of your husband, the late Dr. Humphreys - The items stated by Mr. Brown are 1st for an improper payment made by the Dr. to me for subsisting a public horse from Nov. 96 to Nov. 99, and secondly for medicine furnished me during my residence near Staunton - I trust Madam that on both these points I can perfectly satisfy yourself as well as the Executors and Administrators of Dr. Humphreys that I do not owe the estate a single cent...As to the second charge against me for medicine I must candidly answer from my present impression that I can owe nothing on that score - The only conjecture that I can form on the subject is, that during my residence at the Camp near Staunton I was in the habit of daily attention to the sick soldiary, in my visits to the sick I have occasionally found them without such medicine as the Dr. had prescribed and have therefore written to him and requested a further supply in order to pursue the regimen with the sick and convalescent soldiers which he had directed; if this be the fact and I am fully persuaded it is, the medicine furnished to my orders was expended among the soldiers and of course stated in the Doctor's accounts against the public. Other reasons make a strong impression on this subject, they are its being the customary practice of the Army to furnish such officers as may occasionally be sick with the necessary medical aid at the public expense, and secondly my confident recollection of not having suffered any indisposition of consequence during my residence in the neighbourhood of Staunton - however should you Madam or Genl. Blackburn differ with me in opinion on this subject I am willing to refer it to the decision of any gentlemen in Staunton...Believe me Madam it would have been a source of no inconsiderable mortification to me to have learnt that either yourself or any of the Gentlemen connected with the administration of the estate of Dr. H should for any length of time have laboured under the impression of my being a silent debtor to that estate for such an amount..."

    The letter is accompanied by an itemized list, marked "A Copy", apparently furnished by the Humphrey estate, for what was believed to be owed. Both are housed in a custom clamshell case with marbled boards, quarter leather and gilt tooling on the spine.

    Lewis would have the similar issues with debt years later as Governor of the Louisiana Territory, when an expedition he personally financed wasn't reimbursed by the federal government; Lewis' creditors then seized his assets, including land granted to him from the Lewis & Clark Expedition. Many believe that this contributed to his probable suicide.

    Condition: Flattened mail folds, with light wear and toning throughout. There are some small separations at the edges of the folds. Some ink bleed through on each page. With wax seal remnants on the fourth page next to Lewis' signature.




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    Auction Dates
    April, 2020
    22nd Wednesday
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