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The Jefferson Conspiracies: A President's Role in the Assassination of Meriwether Lewis

Chandler, David Leon

16 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0688122256 / ISBN 13: 9780688122256
Published by William Morrow and Company, Inc, New York, 1994
From Ground Zero Books, Ltd. (Silver Spring, MD, U.S.A.)

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368 p. Map. Illustrations. Notes. Index. Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Leon Chandler exposes the truth behind the death of Meriwether Lewis--governor of the Louisiana Territory, Thomas Jefferson's protégé, and a viable presidential candidate. In 1809, at the age of 35, he was found dead behind a backwoods Tennessee inn, stirring historians' speculations that the alcoholic and depressed Lewis killed himself. Chandler enlists Thomas Jefferson, Aaron Burr, and Revolutionary War general James Wilkinson, among others, to reveal what really happened. Three years after his famous exploration of the West, Meriwether Lewis was at the height of his reputation and career. He was governor of the Louisiana Territory, Thomas Jefferson's protégé, and a viable presidential candidate. Then in 1809, at the age of thirty-five, Lewis was found dead in the yard of a backwoods Tennessee inn. Since that time, historians have fostered the belief that Meriwether Lewis was a suicide-an alcoholic, and a depressive personality. Now-nearly two hundred years later-Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Leon Chandler exposes the truth behind this death in The Jefferson Conspiracies. Key among the players in this forefathers' whodunit is Thomas Jefferson, the president who penned the Declaration of Independence. His multifaceted personality encompassed the brilliant mind of a philosopher as well as that of a tough, cagey power broker. As his career soared, so did his reputation-which had to be protected at all costs, even if that meant sacrificing others. Lewis's chief antagonist-although unbeknownst to him-is James Wilkinson, a strutting, womanizing Revolutionary War general who had the patronage of George Washington. The Jefferson Conspiracies proves that he was an informant working for the Spanish, with secret ambitions to be president. It also examines the question of whether Aaron Burr was a traitor and how his schemes might have unintentionally laid the groundwork for murder. And it gives vivid detail to a young nation reaching. Good in good dust jacket. DJ has some soiling and edge wear. Rear DJ flap creased. Minor edge soiling. Some page rippling. First edition. Stated. First printing [stated]. Bookseller Inventory # 57770

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Jefferson Conspiracies: A President's ...

Publisher: William Morrow and Company, Inc, New York

Publication Date: 1994

Binding: Hardcover

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


An investigation into the mysterious 1809 death of explorer Meriwether Lewis argues that Thomas Jefferson may have sacrificed his protege Lewis for his own career and that Aaron Burr was involved in the murder

From Kirkus Reviews:

Chandler sets out to prove that the mysterious death in 1809 of explorer Meriwether Lewis was a murder and that the plot was masterminded by an ally of former president Thomas Jefferson and sanctioned by Jefferson himself. The death of Lewis--explorer with William Clark, prot‚g‚ of Jefferson, and governor of the newly acquired Louisiana Territory- -caused surprisingly little scandal or inquiry, despite its strange circumstances. Having been summoned to Washington to explain his trading expenses, Lewis died of gunshot wounds in an isolated frontier inn along his curiously inconvenient overland route. A hurried verdict of suicide came primarily from John Neelly, the local Indian Bureau liaison, and Jefferson later supported this, even insinuating drug or alcohol addiction. Local rumor said Lewis was murdered, either by Indians or frontier bandits, and later historians have suspected Neelly and Lewis's servant. Chandler's conspiracy theory fingers the disreputable Revolutionary War general James Wilkinson, later in his career a paid Spanish agent and a conspirator in Aaron Burr's planned invasion of Mexico. Wilkinson counted Jefferson as a longtime ally, particularly after double-crossing Burr and testifying at the infamous treason trial, but in 1809 a New Orleans army base scandal threatened to ruin him and possibly embarrass Jefferson. Chandler suggests that since Lewis could have damaged Wilkinson in Washington, Wilkinson sent his agent Neelly to intercept and murder Lewis. Pulitzer Prize- winner Chandler (The Binghams of Louisville, 1988) lays out the multifarious agendas of France, Spain, and the United States--and the schemes of their agents and adventurers--in his effort to uncover links between Wilkinson and the prime suspects in Lewis's death. Despite Chandler's bias against Jefferson, his role in a possible cover-up, much less a conspiracy, remains questionable. Chandler fits persuasive, albeit circumstantial, evidence into the puzzle of Lewis's death, situating it in the country's turbulent early era, but ultimately does not fill all the gaps and unknowns. (20 b&w photos, not seen) -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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