This Document Has Found a Home at the Library of Congress

Anything signed by or in the hand of Meriwether Lewis is a great rarity.  The renowned explorer and aide to Thomas Jefferson was tasked by our third President to find the most direct, accessible route to the Pacific and made the years-long trip, returning with tales of a new frontier, having sent back scientific specimens and captivating accounts of his journey.  But he died young, and left behind few manuscripts, of which just a small number have reached the market.  We have carried two of the most important such pieces, including perhaps the most significant our research has uncovered. From time to time, we look back on great pieces we have discovered and carried.  Where are they now?  This question is all the more interesting when these reach public institutions.

Where is it now?  This document was acquired by the Library of Congress from The Raab Collection in 2014.

This document, a full description of which you can see here, is a foundation document of the Library of Congress.  It is the original order for the first books purchased for the public library under President Jefferson, which were Jefferson’s own personal choices.  The text is in the hand of Meriwether Lewis in his role as Jefferson's aide.  He also lived with Jefferson during this time, and this document is the only piece bearing both their handwriting known to have reached the market. A remarkable piece.

So where is it now?  Last year, it was acquired from us by the Library of Congress, a fact the Library has given its assent to disclose.   It joins other material related to Lewis's work with Jefferson and becomes an important primary resource in the telling of the Library's own story, a previously unlocated document, now accessible by researchers and the American people.

Below: Another Meriwether Lewis document carried by The Raab Collection, this being a pay receipt for Lewis's pay for the Lewis and Clark expedition. 

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