A Conversation for Missoula, Montana, USA

A Question of Rank

Post 1


I may not be from Montana, but when I subbed this article I investigated the Lewis Clark expedition. Check these out:

"(1804-06), first U.S. overland expedition to the Pacific coast and back. It was conducted under the leadership of Captain Meriwether Lewis and Lieutenant William Clark." (source: Britannica 1998)

"The size of the expedition's task was enormous, and Lewis soon turned to William Clark, a friend from his army days in Ohio, to act as co-commander. Despite the fact that Clark was officially a lieutenant, and therefore of lower rank than Lewis, a captain, Jefferson and Lewis considered Clark an equal leader of the party." (source: Encarta 1997)

I'd be interested to know if and why these two prestigious encyclopaedias got it wrong smiley - winkeye

A Question of Rank

Post 2


Let me first begin by establishing my credentials (or credential, singular). I work for Travel Montana, the state's board of tourism and information. According to the literature published by the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center in Great Falls, Montana (on the site of the explorers' campsite along the Great Falls of the Missouri River) both gentlemen are ranked as Captains. A brief bibliography of works about the journey contain a listing of Clark as Captain. These include:

"The Journals of the Lewis & Clark Expedition" edited by Dr. Gary Moulton, published by the U. of Nebraska Press

"Undaunted Courage" by Stephen Ambrose

"From Sea to Shining Sea" by James Thom

"The Journals of the Lewis & Clark" edited by Bernard de Voto

In addition to these examples, the National Forest System is celebrating the bicentennial of the Expedition by developing and promoting the Lolo Trail, an infamous portion of the Expedition's journey over the Bitterroot Mountains. This trail is only a few miles west of where I live. Interpretive literature and signs along the trail on the Lolo and Clearwater National Forests list both men as Captains.

Can an encyclopedia be wrong? smiley - winkeye

A Question of Rank

Post 3


Here's another quote from Encarta that might shed a little light on why there is confusion, if not why not everybody is telling the same story:
"In June 1803 Lewis asked Clark to join him as co-leader on a government-sponsored expedition through the Louisiana Territory to the Pacific Ocean. Clark was promised a captain's commission to match Lewis's rank, but bureaucratic confusion made him a lieutenant. Despite this, both Lewis and U.S. President Thomas Jefferson, who commissioned the expedition, always considered Clark an equal partner in command."
I'll keep on looking. Whatever the answer, it sounds like an interesting addition to the Guide!

A Question of Rank

Post 4


Slight variation of topics...did you have a chance to see the off-links I set up on the post-recommendation article? I understand that an edited guide entry can not contain links to non-edited entries, which renders the SUV and suburbia entries null and void.

But I did change the fishing, skiing, and some others to off-site links to educate the reader. This version of the article can be found centrally on my space, in an autobiographical section.

Also, I forgot to include on of our major employers and our claim to fame: the home of the Forest Service Northern Region (the first in the nation) Headquarters. There's a link for them as well.

Thanks again for putting up with my nitpicking!

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