Aug. 18, 2000
At a Summer Hotel -- For my Daughter, Rose Van Kirk
It's the birthday in 1774, Albemarle County, Virginia, of explorer Meriwether Lewis, who grew up roaming the woods just a few miles from Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. When Jefferson assumed the presidency in 1801, he made Lewis his private secretary. Two years later, Jefferson appointed Lewis to lead an exploration; together, he and Clark led the great expedition from St. Louis, up the Missouri River, and on to the Pacific Ocean, making maps and charting the way for settlers to come. They explored the Louisiana Purchase, the vast territory the U.S. had acquired from France in 1803. In 1804, early in the expedition, William Clark wrote in his diary of August 18: "Captain Lewis' birthday: the evening was closed with an extra gill of whiskey and a Dance until 11 o'clock." Lewis wrote in his own diary: "This day I completed my thirty first year, and conceived that I had in all human probability now existed about half the period which I am to remain in this world. I reflected that I had as yet done but little, very little, indeed, to further the happiness of the human race, or to advance the information of the succeeding generation. I viewed with regret the many hours I have spent in indolence, but since they are past and cannot be recalled, I dash from me the gloomy thought, and resolved in future to redouble my exertions to promote those two primary objects of human existence; or in future, to live for mankind, as I have heretofore lived for myself." Three years after the expedition, Lewis died in central Tennessee under mysterious circumstances; some say he was murdered, but others who knew him, like Thomas Jefferson, said he suffered from what we now know to be manic-depression, and believed he took his own life. He was 35 years old.
Adolph Ochs took over The New York Times on this day in 1896. The Times had been founded by Henry J. Raymond in 1851, and had not prospered in the time of yellow journalism.
Today is the birthday in Brest, France, of Alain Robbe Grillet (1922). He is best known for being a leading author of the nouveau roman, better known as the French "anti-novel."
It's the birthday in Chabris, France, 1932, of virologist Luc Montagnier, the discoverer of HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus which causes AIDS.
It's the birthday in Berlin, 1934, of the American children's author, Sonia Levitin.
Today is the birthday in Washington, D.C. of the children's author Paul Danzinger (1944), who wrote The Cat Ate My Gymsuit.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®