A quick reminder: Thomas Jefferson commissioned Lewis (who then invited Clark) to explore the newly acquired (and soon to be acquired) territories in the western United States in the early 1800s. More frontier men than men of letters, both were literate and both contributed to the now heavily studied and much enjoyed journals they maintained while crossing through what is now the mid-west and western states.
The challenges along the Missouri River and through Indian country make an astonishing read. But there is also a gift in here for the poor speller. Clark spelled like many elementary school age children do today. He often spelled phoentically. These were either accepted spellings of the time or their best guesses at proper spelling.
Here are three examples.
1. route was rout
"I think it more than probable that Capt. Lewis or myself will return by sea, the other by the same rout we proceed."
(Yes, I know some people pronounce route like "root" but for the rest of us, Clark's spelling makes sense.)
2. Clark also used pore instead of poor.
He described the residents of St. Charles as "pore, polite & harmonious"
3. He used git instead of get and beet instead of beat.
May 6, 1804, some settlers in Wood River (near St. Louis) challenged the voyagers to a shooting match. Clark wrote about the challengers that they,
"all git beet and Lose their money."
In the 4th grade, I probably did that. I imagine if the teacher had just said, "No, Sarah, it's the 1900s now. We don't spelling that way anymore."
What we often call "wrong" often really means "we don't do thinks that way right now."
Our culture is filled with norms, but they are often just for a time. Borders change, language changes, acceptable behaviors change.
What's right today could be wrong tomorrow and vice versa.
Quotes taken from: Ambrose, Stephen. Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West. 1st edition. Simon & Schuster. 1997.