Life’s Amazing Turns…Jean Baptiste Charbonneau

Today in History, December 23, 1829:

Prince Paul Wilhelm of Wurttemberg leaves St. Louis and heads up the Missouri River. This was actually the second exploration of the American wilderness by the scientifically inclined German prince. But a side note is what I find fascinating.

Several years earlier, in 1822, the Prince had undertaken his first expedition into the west. To do so he needed the permission of the Superintendent of Indian Affairs in St. Louis, William Clark of “Lewis and Clark” fame.

Clark had a foster son, the son of an Indian woman who had greatly assisted the Lewis and Clark Expedition: Sacagawea. Her son, Clark’s foster son, was Jean Baptiste Charbonneau.

Clark was so impressed with the Prince that when the Prince completed his first expedition in 1822, he arranged for Jean (age 16) to accompany the Prince to Europe.

The young Jean was the Prince’s constant companion as they toured Europe and North Africa. Jean learned French, German and Spanish and became quite cosmopolitan.

The trip back to the wilds of America in 1829 was taken in order to bring Jean back to his home with Clark.

An interesting story, and what I take from it is the impact of decisions we make on our fate and the fate of those around us. Sacagawea could have led out her life quietly; but she made a decision that led her son on an odyssey she likely could never have imagined.

George Washington Setting Standards


Today in History, December 23: 1783 – “The Greatest character of the age” – King George III of England describing George Washington. American General of the Armies and Commander in Chief George Washington, resigns his commission at the Maryland Statehouse in Annapolis. He had waited until the English armies that he had helped vanquish had, at length, removed themselves from New York. He was in a position to rule the youthful nation. The move giving up so much power shocked Europeans. Washington went home to Mt. Vernon, but of course was not done. In 1787 he accepted the Presidency of the Constitutional Convention, and in ’89 the Presidency of the United States. He set the standard for future generations by relinquishing the power he held, and then later by limiting himself to only two terms as President.