The Slave Who Went with Them

There he is, in the background of paintings, schoolbook illustrations, celebratory films. He's hauling a boat, cradling a rifle, looking on. He is often bare-chested. No one is speaking to him. Frankly, his presence is a little embarrassing. He is York, William Clark's body servant--slavery's version of a valet.

It is not clear why Clark brought him along, although York would have had a good deal of experience caring for the sickly Clark. The co-leader's journal entries afford only the briefest glimpses of a man whose name he often didn't capitalize. We hear of York at work, sawing wood for huts...

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