Did the Lewis & Clark Expedition Have a Black Participant?

The Corps of Discovery did indeed have a black man as part of its travels – it was William Clark’s slave named York. We have no knowledge of his first name and scant biographical information. Much of what we know of him can be gleaned from the authoritatively edited Journals and glimpsed in the recently published Dear Brother: Letters of William Clark to Jonathan Clark. A summation of his activities on the exploration could read as the following: “He seems to have carried a gun and to have performed his full share of the duties with other members of the party; a body servant who could neither defend himself nor carry his share of the load would have been an unacceptable luxury on the expedition.” (Journals, volume 2, appendix A)


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