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Meriwether Lewis autograph letter signed, composed in ''City of Washington'' on 10 March 1803, two months before he embarked on the Lewis and Clark Expedition. In this intriguing letter, written to the widow of a doctor, Lewis deflects on the issue of expenses incurred during his military service, debt that he believes should be paid by the federal government, writing in part, ''I do not owe the estate a single cent.'' Apparently, Lewis had ordered medical supplies from the widow's husband, Dr. Alexander Humphreys, during Lewis' time as an officer in Staunton, Virginia during the Quasi-War with France. Lewis believes that the federal government was responsible for reimbursement to the doctor, although the bills were never paid. Lewis would have the same issue 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, contributing, it's believed, to his probable suicide. Accompanied by full transcription, suggesting that Lewis did believe in his innocence, lengthy four page letter reads in part,

''Dear Madam, 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 -; or if I can in any manner be made sensible that I owe the money it shall be paid on application, and I am perfectly satisfyed that neither yourself nor Genl. B. would either ask or receive it unless you believed it justly due. I shall be in Staunton some time in the month of May or June next, and will do myself the pleasure of calling on you, in the mean time I would thank you to request Genl. Blackburn to forward me a copy of the account charged me for medicine in order that I may have it in my power to compare it by its dates or with the public accounts for medicine etc. rendered and settled by Dr. Humphreys at the War Office.

I am much obliged to Mr. Brown for making the communication he has to me, because by my silence tho' perfectly innocent, unfavorable impressions might have been produced - 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. / Accept I pray you Madam, my every wish for the health, happiness, and prosperity of yourself and family...Meriwether Lewis.''

Four page letter on two sheets is accompanied by an itemized list, marked ''A Copy'' apparently furnished by the Humphrey estate, for what was believed to be owed. Letter measures 8'' x 9.5'' with bold, legible handwriting. With wax seal remnant to fourth page next to Lewis' signature. Folds, with light wear and toning, but overall well-preserved in very good plus condition. Accompanied by a custom clamshell case with marbled boards, quarter leather and gilt tooling on the spine.
Meriwether Lewis Autograph Letter Signed, Two Months Before the Lewis & Clark Expedition -- In What Would Be Lewis' Lifelong Battle With Reimbursed Debt, He Defends Against Money He Purportedly OwesMeriwether Lewis Autograph Letter Signed, Two Months Before the Lewis & Clark Expedition -- In What Would Be Lewis' Lifelong Battle With Reimbursed Debt, He Defends Against Money He Purportedly OwesMeriwether Lewis Autograph Letter Signed, Two Months Before the Lewis & Clark Expedition -- In What Would Be Lewis' Lifelong Battle With Reimbursed Debt, He Defends Against Money He Purportedly OwesMeriwether Lewis Autograph Letter Signed, Two Months Before the Lewis & Clark Expedition -- In What Would Be Lewis' Lifelong Battle With Reimbursed Debt, He Defends Against Money He Purportedly Owes
Meriwether Lewis Autograph Letter Signed, Two Months Before the Lewis & Clark Expedition -- In What Would Be Lewis' Lifelong Battle With Reimbursed Debt, He Defends Against Money He Purportedly OwesMeriwether Lewis Autograph Letter Signed, Two Months Before the Lewis & Clark Expedition -- In What Would Be Lewis' Lifelong Battle With Reimbursed Debt, He Defends Against Money He Purportedly OwesMeriwether Lewis Autograph Letter Signed, Two Months Before the Lewis & Clark Expedition -- In What Would Be Lewis' Lifelong Battle With Reimbursed Debt, He Defends Against Money He Purportedly Owes
Meriwether Lewis Autograph Letter Signed, Two Months Before the Lewis & Clark Expedition -- In What Would Be Lewis' Lifelong Battle With Reimbursed Debt, He Defends Against Money He Purportedly Owes
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