View Full Version : Lewis, Clark, and Whisky

01-31-2005, 21:26
Hi there, gang.

I am currently enrolled in a history class, and I will be writing a term paper about some element of the Lewis and Clark expeidtion. In reading Stephen Ambrose's "Undaunted Courage", (highly recommended, btw,) and of course being a whisky enthusiast, I cannot help but to notice how often whisky is mentioned in the narrative. I'm thinking of maybe focusing on the role of whisky in both the old west and on the expedition itself, because it was an important part of the daily ration of each of the rough-edged men, and the abuse of it was a frequent cause of trouble among the same. I could also take a look at its impact upon the Indians.

What would be my best source of information for finding out the whos whats wheres and whys of whisky in 1804? Lewis loaded up 120 gallons of the stuff from St. Louis right before they left, and I think there was already a supply aboard. What volumes should I read to get specifics? I will, of course, be scouring the History forum on this board for information.

I know that it was probably not very refined... but what exactly was it that these guys got 4 ounces of with dinner every day?

Any and all help would be much appreciated.

01-31-2005, 21:59
Apparently liquor was used mostly during celebrations, though I think also for medicinal purposes, too. Patrick Gass, in his journal (The Journals of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, Vol. 10 -- Gary Moulton, editor), notes brandy on Christmas 1804 and 'good old whiskey' on New Year's 1805, and writes, "we drank the last of our spirits celebrating the day" on July 4, 1805. At Christmas 1805 in Fort Clatsop, Gass notes, "We had no spirituous liquors to elevate our spirits this Christmas, but of this we had but little need, as we were all in very good health."
On Sept. 6, 1806, nearing home, he writes of a trade with a barge met on the Missouri, "We got some spirtuous liquors from the party the first we had tasted since the 4th of July 1805..." They again traded for whiskey on Sept. 10th, according to Gass. His last reference was to "as much whiskey as they could drink," on Sept. 17, less than a week from landing back at St. Louis.
The Bernard DeVoto edition of the journals combines entries from all the reporters -- Lewis (by Biddle), Clark, Gass, Ordway. You'll find sometimes the terms for the liquors are interchangeable: for example, Clark records the "brandy" Gass notes on Christmas Day 1804 as "rum".
In any case, I feel obliged to raise a glass http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif to the Corps of Discovery every time I ponder their achievement.

02-01-2005, 09:48
Don't know if this information will help or not...but there is a Kentucky connection to the Lewis and Clark expedition http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

There is a place called Locust Grove, in Louisville, Ky. It was built by Mayor William Croghan and his wife, Lucy Clark Croghan...In 1809 Gen. George Rogers Clark (founder of Louisville) came to live with his sister Lucy and her family following a accident that resulted in the amputation of his legs. Their youngest brother was....WILLIAM CLARK, of the Lewis and Clark expidition...he was a frequent visitor http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif...

Bettye Jo

EDIT--->You probably already have this page bookmarked?...If not, it's a great reference into the ventures of the Lewis and Clark expedition http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

Lewis and Clark Journal (http://www.sierraclub.org/lewisandclark/journal/archive.asp?source=Clark&date=2/1/1805)

02-01-2005, 20:12
I think she was having a cosmopolitan and he was drinking a beer.

Oh, I'm sorry. Did you say Lewis and Clark? I thought you said Lois and Clark.

02-03-2005, 12:39
I am not a Lewis and Clark scholar, but my boss, Jim Holmberg, is. He edited the collection of William Clark letters here at the Filson in the book "Dear Brother". He tells me that they have found receipts for whisky, wine and brandy from Philadelphia, along the Ohio and St. Louis for about 120 gallons. The men were given 1 dram a day as part of their ration and a gill on rough days or for celebrations. The men received the whisky while the officers tended to drink the brandy.
Mike Veach

02-03-2005, 13:10
I think she was having a cosmopolitan and he was drinking a beer.

Nahhh Chuck...

I think it was...she was reading "a banned magazine" and he was drinking "cull the herd" beer... http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smilielol.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smilielol.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smilielol.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smilielol.gif

Bettye Jo