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The Nine Young Men from Kentucky

Michael Haynes Historic Art

When Meriwether Lewis wrote to William Clark in June 1803 with an invitation to join him on a western expedition, he also requested a favor: regardless of whether or not Clark went, Lewis asked him to begin recruiting the frontiersmen needed to serve on the expedition. Kentucky was fertile ground for the young woodsmen and hunters that Lewis knew were vital to the success of the journey.

Within days of receiving Lewis's invitation, Clark was gathering young men for their Western adventure. Louisville, a major frontier town and supply point, was a perfect recruiting area. Clark was a good judge of men and their abilities. Over the next few months, as he waited for Lewis to reach Louisville, William recruited men that became the foundation of the Corps of Discovery.

William Clark had seven recruits waiting on October 14 when Lewis reached Louisville, and Lewis brought two more with him. These nine men are forever associated with Kentucky in the history of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. After interviewing Clark about the expedition, Nicholas Biddle, author/editor of the official expedition history published in 1814, noted that nine of the men were "robust young American citizens from the neighborhood of Louisville." Clark identified these first recruits as being from Kentucky (although not all of them actually were), and thus in Biddle's history and those that followed it, they entered the annals of this American epic as the "Nine Young Men from Kentucky."

The Nine Young Men were:

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