David Meriwether was born on October 30, 1800, in Louisa County, Virginia. His parents were William and Elizabeth (Winslow) Meriwether. After his family moved to Kentucky in 1803, he was educated in schools in Louisville and Jefferson County. He lived with his father on a farm near Louisville on the Ohio River until he was eighteen.
He then spent three years on a three-year, fur-trading expedition in the West before returning to Kentucky at age twenty-one. He settled on a portion of his father’s estate and began farming. He studied law and was admitted to the bar.
A lifelong Democrat of strict Jeffersonian persuasion, Meriwether was elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives in 1832 and was reelected until 1845. He failed in a race for U.S. Congress 1846. He was a delegate to the state constitutional convention in 1849. In 1851, he was appointed Secretary of State by Governor Lazarus Powell but left this position in 1852 to fill the vacancy in the U.S. Senate created by the death of Henry Clay.
In 1853, Meriwether was appointed Governor of New Mexico by President Franklin Pierce and served a four-year term. He then returned to the Kentucky House, serving from 1858 to 1885. He was Speaker of the House in 1859. A bill to create a Meriwether County out of portions of Laurel, Knox, and Whitley counties was defeated in 1880.
Meriwether married Sarah H. Leonard of Indiana in February 1823. He was a lifelong member of the Protestant Episcopal Church.
David Meriwether died at his home near Louisville on April 4, 1893, and is buried in Louisville’s Cave Hill Cemetery.
Johnston, ed., "Memorial History of Louisville," (1896), Vol. I, pgs 367-68;
George Willis, "History of Kentucky Democracy," (1935), Vol. I, pg 596;
Kleber, "Kentucky Encyclopedia";
Obituary, "Weekly Courier-Journal," April 1893.