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

David Leon Chandler, Author William Morrow & Company $25 (368p) ISBN 978-0-688-12225-6
Meriwether Lewis returned a national hero from his exploration of the Louisiana Purchase. Three years later, in 1809, he lay dead in a farmyard. Was it suicide--or murder? Chandler ( The Binghams of Louisville ) argues that Lewis was slain by agents of the notorious General James Wilkinson, who feared that his land speculations and his acceptance of Spanish bribes would be exposed. The book's real bombshell, however, is the author's insistence that ex-president Jefferson connived in the suicide cover-up story. Jefferson allegedly used Wilkinson in a number of dubious activities and could not risk the general's exposure. Chandler's reconstruction rests heavily on poorly documented inferences. Linking Jefferson to murder in this dubious fashion is retrospective character assassination. As a novel his work might have enjoyed some success; as history it deserves obscurity. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/30/1994
Release date: 06/01/1994
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Paperback - 978-0-688-14352-7
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