Synopses & Reviews
Over the course of his career, American explorer William Clark (17701838) wrote at least forty-five letters to his older brother Jonathan, including six that were written during the epic Lewis and Clark Expedition. This book publishes many of these letters for the first time, revealing important details about the expedition, the mysterious death of Meriwether Lewis, the status of Clark's slave York (the first African American known to have crossed the continent from coast to coast), and other matters of historical significance.
There are letters concerning the establishment of the Corps of Discovery's first winter camp in December 1803, preparations for setting out into the country west of Fort Mandan in 1805, and Clarks 1807 fossil dig at Big Bone Lick, Kentucky. There are also letters about Lewis's disturbed final days that shed light on whether he committed suicide or was murdered. Still other letters chronicle the fate of York after the expedition; we learn the details of Clark and York's falling out and subsequent alienation. Together the letters and the richly informative introductions and annotations by James J. Holmberg provide valuable insights into the lives of Lewis and Clark and the world of Jeffersonian America.
"[F]ascinating and informative....Of special interest are the letters Clark wrote concerning Meriwether Lewis's suicide, which reveal the depths of Clark's anguish." Library Journal
"At this time in our Nations history, it is reassuring to look back at our most honored heroes and examine what made them strong. With Dear Brother we get a chance to see into the heart of William Clark and finally acknowledge how indispensable he was to the success of the Expedition. They have been called the 'writingest explorers' of all time. Yet these letters show it was Clark who was the most reliable correspondent; these letters are the most important contribution to Lewis and Clark studies since Donald Jackson. Thanks to Jim Holmberg and the Filson Club we now have a much more complete portrait of the man who co-piloted and mapped the Corps of Discovery to its rightful place in the history of North American Exploration." Stephen E. Ambrose, author of Undaunted Courage and Lewis & Clark: Voyage of Discovery
"Encountering these letters from William Clark to his brother Jonathan, many readers will feel the same 'electrifying' jolt that James Holmberg felt when this previously unknown collection was turned over to the Filson Historical Society. Solving a few of the mysteries that have lingered through scores of biographies and shedding new light on a number of other historical controversies, these letters will be treasured by all aficionados of Lewis and Clark." Stephen Aron, University of California, Los Angeles
- Published in association with The Filson Historical Society
About the Author
James J. Holmberg is Curator of Special Collections, The Filson Historical Society.
James P. Ronda is H. G. Barnard Professor of Western History at the University of Tulsa.