Worldly Needs, Early American Dream, Meriwhether Lewis

“He also wrote occasional pieces for the newspaper. On November 16, 1808, he contributed an essay on “The True Ambitions of an Honest Mind.”  It read, in full:

Were I to describe the blessings I desire in life, I would be happy in a few but faithful friends.  Might I choose my talent, it should rather be good than learning.  I would consult in the choice of my house, convenience rather than state; and, for my circumstances, desire a moderate but independent fortune.  Business enough to secure me from indolence, and leisure enough always to have an hour to spare.  I would have no master, and I desire few servants.  I would not be led away by ambition, nor perplexed with disputes.  I would enjoy the blessings of health but rather be beholden for it to a regular life and an easy mind, than to the school of Hippocrates.  As to my passions, since we cannot be wholly divested of them, I would hate only those whose manners rendered them odious, and love only where I knew I ought.  Thus would I pass cheerfully through that portion of my life which cannot last always, & with resignation wait for that which will last forever.

-From Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson and the Opening of the American West by Stephen Ambrose

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