On one side, centering on the figure of the
secretary of the treasury, Alexander Hamilton, were those favoring an energetic
federal government, a strong presidency, and ties to England.
On the other side, centered on Thomas
Jefferson, were those favoring a less dynamic national government, a limited
presidency, and ties to revolutionary France.
Each of these visions co-existed for many
years.Together they formed a
is a political culture?
was its content during this era?
America between 1790 and 1815:
Though, during the ratification struggle of 1787-1789, the Federalists
were functioning as a surprisingly well coordinated political group with
publications, campaign-like meetings, behind the scene maneuvers, and a
national scope, they were not yet a political party.Struggles over issues during the 1790s pushed
Americans toward a political party system.
The Hamilton Plans
nBank of the United StatesStrict vs. loose construction;
China trade; Latin American beginnings
regions AND integration of markets
enterprise” of states and Federal support
nimmigration and recovery of cities
nfirst banks, larger almshouses and other urban
ninvention (e.g., cotton gin)
nthe pace of work – shops and crafts, not large
opposition and the “Revolution of 1800”
Fears of Hamiltonian Plans
What propose in its place?
Less government, more local
Fewer large institutions –
Expansion across space
Support for the French Revolution
The Myth of the Yeoman Farmer
§the pace of
migration into new lands
§Cotton gin and
§Plows and new
in the Barbary Straits
and Sedition Acts
of the franchise
and public meetings
to deference and beginnings of ideas such as “equality” and “democracy”
are these words first used, and why?
Did the Revolution
of 1800 fulfill the Jeffersonian Promise?
Reality of need for strong government
Reality of need for more institutional
support and coordinated diplomacy
Reality of a more complicated society
violence, urban poverty
Repeal of some Federalist legislation
Cut federal budget and tariffs, paid
BUT – allowed BUS
to run its courst to 1811
-- purchased Louisiana[see larger unit below]
Questions for Students:
What differences existed
between Federalist and Democratic-Republicans?
What events and issues were
important in causing the differences in opinion?
Two more ways to bring this into your
1.Understanding political opposition.
2.Understanding the nature of westward
1.Political opposition in Jeffersonian America
of factionalism and political parties was deeply rooted in Anglo-American
political culture before the American Revolution. Leaders such as George
Washington and Thomas Jefferson hoped their new government, founded on the
Constitution, would be motivated instead by a common intent, a unity. They got these ideas from a long heritage of REPUBLICANISM
Define Republicanism – use any college U.S. history textbook.
“The idea of a legitimate opposition—recognized opposition,
organized and free enough in its activities to be able to displace an existing
government by peaceful means—is an immensely sophisticated idea, and it was not
an idea that the Fathers found fully developed and ready to hand when they
began their enterprise in republican constitutionalism in 1788.”—Richard Hofstadter in The Idea of a
Party System (University of California Press, 1970. p. 8.)
But slowly, this belief begins to change during the first generation after
the American Revolution.Though
dominant, these sentiments were not held by all Americans. A delegate to the Massachusetts ratifying
convention, for example, asserted that “competition of interest…between those
persons who are in and those who are out office, will ever form one important
check to the abuse of power in our representatives.”This kind of thinking implied that a
permanent elite would not automatically take offices and rule over Americans,
and that “the People” would be the watchdogs over their rulers.
“When we speak of an opposition as being
responsible, we mean that it contains within itself the potential of an actual
alternative government—that is, its critique of existing policies is not simply
a wild attempt to outbid the existing regime in promises, but a sober attempt
to formulate alternative policies which it believes to be capable of execution
within the existing historical and economic framework, and to offer as its
executors a competent alternative personnel that can actually govern.” (Richard
Hofstadter, p. 4).
In other words, a party in opposition must
provide a viable alternate program and personnel with the potential to carry
out that program. …When we speak of an
opposition being effective, we mean not merely that its programs are expected
to be capable of execution, that its alternative policy is real, but that its
capability of winning office is also real, that it has the institutional
structure and the public force which make it possible for us to expect that
sooner or later it will in fact take office and bring to power an alternative
personnel (Hofstadter, p. 5).A party
in opposition must have a structure that enables it to engage the public
through communication and organization so that eventually it can come to power
by way of election and attempt to implement its program. The tension between
having a program and being effective (that is, having the potential to rise to
power through popular election), often results in changes to the party program
in the face of events and changes in popular opinion. A party in opposition questions the policies
of the governing party and not the legitimacy of the government itself since
both parties observe the same set of ground rules, the Constitution. In turn,
the party in power does not question the legitimacy of opposition.
Also, during the 1790s each of the parties
created an organization necessary to constitute legitimate opposition and
achieved control of the federal government (Adams in 1796, and Jefferson in
The idea of a legitimate opposition—recognized
opposition, organized and free enough in its activities to be able to displace
an existing government by peaceful means—is an immensely sophisticated idea,
and it was not an idea that the Fathers found fully developed and ready to hand
when they began their enterprise in republican constitutionalism in 1788
(Hofstadter, p. 8).Until about 1814,
when the country experienced a period—the so-called "Era of Good
Feelings"—in which only the Democratic-Republicans were able to
effectively mount a national campaign, both parties were attempting to
eliminate the other. After 10 years of "good feelings," the need for
opposition proved so strong that a second two-party system, more clearly
articulated than the first, developed, under Andrew Jackson and the Democrats.
at all times remember that the two-party system was a work in progress
during the first quarter-century of our republic.It was actually factions, not parties, forming policies and arguing with
Americans about competing visions.
The willingness of the Federalists to peacefully hand over power
and to accept political defeat was extraordinary in a world controlled by kings
and military leaders. In most states, property qualifications still limited the
vote to white males owning as least a fifty-acre plot of land. This voting
limitation upheld Thomas Jefferson's commitment to a rural republicanism that
rested on the widespread farm ownership of relatively independent adult males.
It was this republican vision that had motivated Jefferson to make the Louisiana Purchase -- even though its constitutionality
was in question -- and to oppose primogeniture. The first promised to open up
thousands of acres to farmers, thus assuring the continuation of an agrarian
republic, while the latter blocked the creation of landowning dynasties
controlled by inheritance to the eldest son.
Important changes, however, were afoot that would transform America
from an agrarian republic to a mass democracy over the next two decades. For
one thing, new, more egalitarian states had been carved out of the backcountry
given to America
by the British after the American Revolution. By 1803, four new frontier states
had entered the Union: Vermont (1791), Kentucky (1792), Tennessee
(1796), and Ohio
would follow in 1812. Most of these new states eliminated the property and
taxpaying qualifications for voting, and most eastern states soon followed
suit. In all, there were sixteen states in the Union
in 1800. According to census figures that year, the nation's population had
increased from 3.9 million to 5.3 million -- a jump of 35 percent
-- since the date of the first census in 1790.
At the same time, however, most of these new
states and many old ones explicitly limited the franchise to white males. In New Jersey, for example,
women and free blacks who owned property had voted until 1807, when the state
abolished all property qualifications but limited suffrage to white men. The
revolutionary constitutions of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont,
and Maine, which had granted the vote to free
blacks, soon joined with New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania,
Tennessee, and North Carolina in denying suffrage to
African Americans regardless of their education or property.
An Activity:Seeds of a Party System
Using the link below, read and discuss the document of
Jeffersonians in New York
in 1801 who made a strong critique of the Hamiltonians (Federalists).The document is a BROADSIDE, or a pamphlet
printed on one large sheet of paper and posted publicly.
The Pennsylvania Gazette (available on line in many
Steps toward Jeffersonian America:
1788: Constitution Ratified
1789 April: Washington Becomes
Though during the ratification struggle, the
Federalists were functioning as a surprisingly well coordinated political group
with publications, campaign-like meetings, behind the scene maneuvers, and a
national scope, they were not yet a political party. Their goal was limited,
and certainly not the political party that formed around Alexander Hamilton
presidency. James Madison—who later helped Jefferson start the
Democratic-Republican Party—worked closely with Hamilton, helping the Federalists promote the
ratification of the Constitution. The Federalist Papers, authored by Hamilton,
Madison, and John Jay, “stressed the inadequacy of the Confederation, the need
for a strong government, and the conformity of the Constitution with the best
principles of republican government”The Constitution encountered stiff opposition. The vote was 187 to 168
in Massachusetts, 57 to 47 in New Hampshire, 30 to 27 in New York,
and 89 to 79 in Virginia.
Two states, North Carolina and Rhode Island, refused to
ratify the new plan of government. Those who opposed the adoption of the
Constitution were known as the Anti-Federalists. Many feared centralized power.
Many doubted the ability of Americans to sustain a continental republic. Some
Anti-Federalists were upset that the Constitution lacked a religious test for
office holding. Others were concerned that the Constitution failed to guarantee
a right to counsel and a right not to incriminate oneself in criminal trials,
or to prohibit cruel and unusual punishments.
DocumentsEdward Rutledge in Defense of the
Several arguments were
voiced repeatedly during the ratification debates:
That the Convention had exceeded its authority in producing a new
That the Constitution established the basis for a monarchical
Constitution lacked explicit protections for individual and states rights.
Suggested Amendments to the Constitution [http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/const/ratma.htm]
at The Avalon Project.
1789, July 14:
Bastille Day, The French Revolution
At first, many Americans are sympathetic to the French
Revolution, especially those who later aligned themselves with Jefferson and
Madison. Many Americans reacted
enthusiastically to the overthrow of the king and the creation of a French
republic. France appeared to
have joined America
in a historical struggle against royal absolutism and aristocratic privilege.
More cautious gentlemen, however, expressed horror; they viewed the French
Revolution as an assault against property.
Executive Departments Established :
Foreign Affairs (later Department of State) headed by
War Department headed by Henry Knox
Treasury Department headed by Alexander Hamilton
Post Office Department with Postmaster Samuel Osgood
Hamilton’s Fiscal Program The chief issue of Washington’s first term was the fiscal
program devised by Alexander Hamilton and submitted to the House of
Representatives in a series of reports on national and state debt, an excise
tax, and a national bank. Controversy over these proposals ultimately led to
the party cleavage between Federalists and Republicans.
1790, Jan. 14: Debt
• Primary Documents:
Report on Public Credit [http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=llac&fileName=002/llac002.db&recNum=382]
• Narrative: Alexander Hamilton’s
on Digital History.
Jefferson to George Washington, May 23, 1792[http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/mtj:@field(DOCID+@lit(tj060237))]
As Treasury Secretary, Hamilton designed a financial system that made the United States
the best credit risk in the western world. The paramount problem facing Hamilton was a huge
national debt. He proposed that the government assume the entire debt of the
federal government and the states. His plan was to retire the old depreciated
obligations by borrowing new money at a lower interest rate.
States like Maryland,
Carolina, and Virginia, which had
already paid off their debts, saw no reason why they should be taxed by the
federal government to pay off the debts of other states like Massachusetts
and South Carolina.
Hamilton’s critics claimed that his scheme because it would provide enormous
profits to speculators who had bought bonds from Revolutionary War veterans for
as little as 10 or 15 cents on the dollar.
For six months, a bitter debate
raged in Congress, until James Madison and Thomas Jefferson engineered a
compromise. In exchange for southern votes, Hamilton
promised to support locating the national capital on the banks of the Potomac
River, the border between two southern states, Virginia
1791, Feb. 25:
Lehrman Institute of American History [http://www.gilderlehrman.org/]
Jefferson’s Opinion on the Constitutionality
of a National Bank (Feb.
15, 1791) [http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/amerdoc/bank-tj.htm]
image of the original is available at
Critics charged that the bank
threatened the nation’s republican values by encouraging speculation and
corruption. They also contended that the bank was unconstitutional, since the
Constitution did not give Congress the power to create a bank. Other grounds
for criticism were that the bank would subject America to foreign influences
(because foreigners would have to purchase a high proportion of the bank’s
stock) and give a propertied elite disproportionate influence over the nation’s
fiscal policies (since private investors would control the bank’s board of
directors). Despite the bitter opposition of such figures as Jefferson and
Madison, Congress succeeded in chartering a Bank of the United States.
1791 March: Congress Passes
Excise Tax on Whiskey
1791, Dec. 5: Report on
Primary Document Excerpts
and Annotation: Hamilton: Report on
Manufactures (Dec. 5,
on Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History,
The final plank in Hamilton’s economic program was a proposal to
aid the nation’s infant industries. Through high tariffs designed to protect
American industry from foreign competition, government bounties and subsidies,
and internal improvements and transportation, Hamilton
hoped to break Britain’s
manufacturing hold on America.
…Although Jefferson and his
followers successfully painted Hamilton as an
elitist defender of a deferential social order and an admirer of monarchical Britain, in fact Hamilton offered a remarkably modern economic
vision based on investment, industry, and expanded commerce. Most strikingly,
it was an economic vision with no place for slavery. Before the 1790s, the
American economy, North and South, was tied to a trans-Atlantic system of
slavery. A member of New York’s first
anti-slavery society, Hamilton wanted to
reorient the American economy away from slavery and trade with the slave
colonies of the Caribbean.
The most eloquent opposition to Hamilton’s proposals came
from Thomas Jefferson, who believed that the growth of manufacturing threatened
the values of an agrarian way of life. Hamilton’s
vision of America’s future
directly challenged Jefferson’s ideal of a
nation of farmers communing with nature and maintaining personal freedom by
virtue of landownership. Like slaves, Jefferson
feared, factory workers would be manipulated by their masters, who would make
it impossible for them to think and act as independent citizens.
Despite a belief that parties were
evil and that they posed a threat to republican government, leaders in Washington’s first
administration created the first modern political parties. Divisions first
emerged in 1791 over Hamilton’s
proposals to fund the federal and state debts, to establish a national bank,
and to provide government assistance to manufacturing.
On the grounds that Hamilton’s
fiscal plans threatened his vision of the Republic, James Madison organized
congressional opposition and retained the poet Philip Freneau to edit a
newspaper, the National Gazette, to warn the populace about Hamilton’s designs. Madison and his ally
Thomas Jefferson saw in Hamilton’s program an
effort to establish the kind of patronage society that existed in Britain,
with a huge public debt, a standing army, high taxes, and government-subsidized
responded in kind. He secured John Fenno to publish the Gazette of the United States,
claiming that his opponents wanted to return the national government to its
weak condition under the Articles of Confederation. By 1794, his faction had
evolved into the Federalist Party, the first national political party in
history capable of nominating candidates, coordinating votes in Congress,
staging public meetings, organizing petition campaigns, and disseminating
President Washington to Secretary
of State Thomas Jefferson, Aug. 23, 1792
(Read from “How unfortunate” to “producing unhappy consequences at home and abroad.”)
President Washington to Secretary
of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, Aug. 26, 1792
To George Washington, Sept.
9, 1792 [http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/P/tj3/writings/brf/jefl100.htm]
1792, Sept. 21: FrenchRepublic
Proclaimed American sympathy toward France begins to weaken. Even
Jefferson, who was very sympathetic to the revolutionary cause in France
“deplored the excesses of violence that took place” (from Thomas Jefferson
on the French Revolution [http://chnm.gmu.edu/revolution/d/592/]), though
he also said, “The liberty of the whole earth was depending on the issue of the
contest, and was ever such a prize won with so little innocent blood?”
• Primary Document with Brief
Introduction: Thomas Jefferson on the French Revolution, Jan. 3, 1793
1793, Feb. 1: France Declares War on Great Britain, Spain,
• Secondary Account:
Grolier’s Biography of George Washington [http://gi.grolier.com/presidents/ea/bios/01pwash.html].The foreign policy of Washington
took shape under the pressure of a war between Britain
and revolutionary France.
At the war’s inception Washington
had to decide whether two treaties of the French-American alliance of 1778 were
still in force. Hamilton
held that they were not, because they had been made with the now-defunct
government of Louis XVI. Washington, however,
accepted Jefferson’s opinion that they were
still valid because they had been made by an enduring nation—a principle that
has since prevailed in American diplomacy.
1793, April 22:
Issues Proclamation of Neutrality
• Primary Document: The Proclamation of Neutrality 1793 [http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/neutra93.htm]
• Secondary Account:
Years of Crisis [http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/database/article_display.cfm?HHID=8]
In 1793 and 1794 a series of crises
threatened to destroy the new national government: France
tried to entangle America in
its war with England; Armed
rebellion erupted in western Pennsylvania;
Indians in Ohio threatened American expansion;
and War with Britain
1793, August 1-2: Genet
• Secondary Account and
Links to Digitized Original: Journal of the Proceedings of
the President, August
1-2, 1793 [http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/gwhtml/gwlet8.html]
The entries for August 1 and 2,
1793, revolve around one of the earliest foreign policy crises of the new
government. President Washington wanted French Minister Edmond Genet sent home,
because of Genet’s continued violations of United
States laws and regulations in his efforts to recruit
men, ships, and supplies for France’s
war against Great Britain.
Washington’s cabinet, like the nation, was
divided between supporters of France
and Great Britain.
The issue was a key factor in the rivalry of Secretary of State Thomas
Jefferson. As a result of the cabinet meetings of August 1 and 2, even Jefferson had to support a request to the French government
for the recall of Genet.
1793: Differences of Opinion
About France and Great Britain
Differences of opinion over France
and Great Britain
make “party lines more definite” (Morris, p. 142).
• Alexander Hamilton on the French Revolution,
1793, December 31:
Resigns from the Cabinet
According to Chapter 25 of The
Life of Thomas Jefferson [http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/jefferson/biog/lj26.htm]
On the last day of December 1, 1793, Mr.
Jefferson resigned the office of Secretary of State and retired from political
life. This was not a sudden resolution on his part, nor unexpected to his
country. The political disagreement between himself and the Secretary of the
Treasury, added to his general disinclination to holding office, was the cause
of his retirement. This disagreement, originating in a fundamental difference
of opinion and aggravated by subsequent collisions in the cabinet, was
reflected back upon the people and aggravated in turn the agitations and
animosities between the republicans and federalists, of which they were
respectively the leaders.
1794, Nov. 19: Jay’s Treaty
• Primary Document: The Jay Treaty of 1794 [http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/diplomacy/britian/jaymenu.htm]
• Secondary Account:
John Jay’s Treaty [http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/time/nr/14318.htm] on
Foreign Relations of the United
States (U.S. Department of State), on Internet
The only concessions Jay obtained were a surrender of
the northwestern posts—already agreed to in 1783—and a commercial treaty with
Great Britain that granted
the United States “most favored
nation” status, but seriously restricted U.S.
commercial access to the British West Indies.
All other outstanding issues—the Canadian-Maine boundary, compensation for
pre-revolutionary debts, and British seizures of American ships—were to be
resolved by arbitration. Jay even conceded that the British could seize U.S. goods bound for France if they paid for them and
could confiscate without payment French goods on American ships. The treaty was
1794 July: The Whiskey
• Secondary Account: Washington
and the Whiskey Rebellion [http://edsitement.neh.gov/view_lesson_plan.asp?ID=311].Following unsuccessful petitions against the
excise tax, an armed group in western Pennsylvania
attacks a federal marshal when he attempts to serve papers on those who have
not registered their stills as required by law. Two days later, insurgents burn
the home of the local tax collector. As the uprising spreads, government agents
and local citizens sympathetic to the government become the target of violence
…The excise tax had been a
Federalist measure… designed to help pay the costs of Hamilton’s
financial policies, and its opponents included those who were organizing what
would soon become the Democratic-Republican Party under Jefferson.
Antagonism between these groups deepened over Washington’s
handling of the Whiskey Rebellion: “An insurrection was announced and
proclaimed and armed against, but could never be found,” Jefferson said of it,
argued that suppressing the rebellion “will do us a great deal of good and add
to the solidity of everything in this country.”
1796, Sept. 17: Washington’s Farewell
• Primary Document:
Farewell Address [http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/washing.htm] on The
The great rule of conduct for us in
regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have
with them as little political connection as possible.
… the common and continual mischiefs
of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a
wise people to discourage and restrain it.
• Secondary Account:
Washington’s Farewell Address [http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/time/nr/14319.htm]Frustrated by French meddling in U.S. politics, Washington warned the nation to avoid
permanent alliances with foreign nations and to rely instead on temporary
alliances for emergencies. Washington’s efforts to protect the fragile young
republic by steering a neutral course between England and France during the
French Revolutionary Wars was made extremely difficult by the intense rhetoric
flowing from the pro-English Federalists, led by Alexander Hamilton, and the
pro-French, personified by Thomas Jefferson.
1796: December Presidential
April: John Adams Becomes President
During Adams’ presidency, the United States faced its most serious
international crisis yet: an undeclared naval war with France. In the Jay Treaty, France perceived an American tilt toward Britain,
especially in a provision permitting the British to seize French goods from
American ships in exchange for financial compensation. France retaliated by capturing hundreds of
vessels flying the United
…The Federalist-controlled Congress
prepared for war by authorizing a 20,000-man army and calling George Washington
out of retirement as commander in chief. During the winter of 1798, an
undeclared naval war took place between France
and the United States.
Democratic-Republican Societies Emerge
• Primary Documents and
Secondary Account: Annotations and excerpts in the
on the Democratic-Republican Societies (1798) [http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/documents/documents_p2.cfm?doc=341]
on Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
The letter contains one of Washington’s most
outspoken statements of distrust of the Democratic-Republican Societies, which
had arisen in support of the French Revolution and which the former President
had already blamed for inciting the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794.
Alien and Sedition Acts
two major factions revealed their self-destructive potential in 1798, when the
Federalists exerted control by imprisoning their opponents and Jefferson, in
his Kentucky Resolutions, encouraged change almost to the point of dissolving
the Union itself. The study sheet presents an
excerpt from this legislation showing Jefferson's reaction to the governmental
crisis of 1798, and a contrasting excerpt from his first inaugural address in
1800, showing his view when the crisis had passed.
• Primary Document:
Alien and Sedition Acts [http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/statutes/sedact.htm]
on The Avalon Project
Secondary Account:The Presidency of John Adams [http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/database/article_display.cfm?HHID=10]
period necessary before immigrants could become citizens from to 14 years;
president the power to imprison or deport any foreigner believed to be
dangerous to the United
made it a crime
to attack the government with “false, scandalous, or malicious” statements or
These acts contributed to Thomas
Jefferson’s election as president in 1800 and gave the Federalist party a
reputation for political repression. Federalist prosecutors used the Sedition
Act to convict ten editors and printers.
Republicans accused the Federalists
of violating fundamental liberties. The state legislatures of Kentucky
adopted resolutions written by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison denouncing
the Alien and Sedition Acts as an infringement on freedom of expression. The
Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions advanced the idea that the states had a right
to declare federal laws null and void, and helped to establish the theory of
1798-1800:Undeclared Naval War (Quasi War) with France
• Documents: The Quasi War with France; 1791-1800 [http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/quasi.htm] on The Avalon Project
1800: December Presidential
• Secondary Account:
Thomas Jefferson: Campaigns and Elections [http://www.americanpresident.org/history/thomasjefferson/biography/CampaignElections.common.shtml]
on The American President
Given the intense rivalry and
conflict involved, it is not surprising that the 1800 election reached a level
of personal animosity seldom equaled in American politics. The Federalists
attacked the fifty-seven-year-old Jefferson as a godless Jacobin who would
unleash the forces of bloody terror upon the land. With Jefferson
as President, so warned one newspaper, “Murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and
incest will be openly taught and practiced, the air will be rent with the cries
of the distressed, the soil will be soaked with blood, and the nation black
with crimes.” Others attacked Jefferson’s deist beliefs as the views of an
infidel who “writes aghast the truths of God’s words; who makes not even a
profession of Christianity; who is without Sabbaths; without the sanctuary, and
without so much as a decent external respect for the faith and worship of
The luckless Adams
was ridiculed from two directions: by the Hamiltonians within his own party and
by the Jeffersonian-Republicans from the outside. For example, a private letter
in which Hamilton depicted Adams
as having “great and intrinsic defects in his character” was obtained by Aaron
Burr and leaked to the national press. It fueled the Republican attack on Adams as a hypocritical fool and tyrant. His opponents
also spread the story that Adams had planned
to create an American dynasty by the marriage of one of his sons to a daughter
of King George III. According to this unsubstantiated story, only the
intervention of George Washington, dressed in his Revolutionary military
uniform, and the threat by Washington to use
his sword against his former vice president had stopped Adams’s
Thomas Jefferson Becomes President
Account: Thomas Jefferson: Campaigns and Elections [http://www.americanpresident.org/history/thomasjefferson/biography/CampaignElections.common.shtml]
or google: The American President
When the electoral votes came in, Jefferson and Burr had won 73 votes each. Adams and his
running mate, Charles C. Pinckney, the brother of Thomas Pinckney who ran in
1796, won 65 and 64 votes respectively.
With no clear majority, the vote was
thrown into the Federalist-controlled U.S. Congress. After much intrigue and
arguing, and thirty-five ballots, Alexander Hamilton, who despised Burr as an
unprincipled scoundrel, convinced a few Federalists who had supported Burr in
the balloting to turn in blank ballots rather than vote for either Republican
1801, Nov. 16: Secretary of
the Treasury Albert Gallatin’s Tax Plan
Document: Gallatin to Jefferson[http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/mtj:@field(DOCID+@lit(tj090161))]
…if this Administration shall not
reduce taxes, they never will be permanently reduced. To strike at the root of
the evil and avert the danger of increasing taxes, encroaching government,
temptations to offensive wars, &c., nothing can be more effectual than a
repeal of all internal
taxes, but let them all go, and not one remain on which sister taxes may be
hereafter engrafted. I agree most fully with you that pretended
tax-preparations, treasury-preparations, and army-preparations against
contingent wars tend only to encourage wars. If the United States shall
unavoidably be drawn into a war, the people will submit to any necessary tax,
and the system of internal taxation which, then,
be thought best adapted to the then situation of the country may be created,
instead of engrafted on the old or present plan; if there shall be no real
necessity for them, their abolition by this Administration will most powerfully
deter any other from reviving them. A repeal now will attach as much
unpopularity to them as the late direct tax has done to that mode of taxation.
On those grounds, can I ask what, in your opinion, is the minimum of necessary
naval and foreign intercourse expenses…?
January 18, 1803
Jefferson sends a secret letter to
Congress asking for $2,500 to finance an expedition to explore the Missouri River. The funding is approved February 28.
February 24, 1803
Marbury vs. Madison
ruling by Supreme Court asserts Constitutional Right of Judicial Review.
Haiti gains its
independence from France, becoming the world's first black republic.
New Jersey abolishes slavery,
the last northern state to do so.
Another activity:America in World Affairs
Although Thomas Jefferson came to
power determined to limit the reach of the federal government, foreign affairs
dominated his presidency and pushed him toward Federalist policies that greatly
contrasted with his political philosophy. The first foreign episode involved
Jefferson's war with the Barbary pirates. For
the previous century or so, Western nations had paid bribes to the Barbary states, which would later become Morocco, Algeria,
Tunis, and Tripolitania, to
keep them from harassing American and merchant ships. When the Pasha of Tripoli
raised his demands in 1801, Jefferson refused to pay the increase, sent
warships to the Mediterranean, blockaded the small nation, and tried unsuccessfully
to promote a palace coup in Tripoli.
This was one of the first covert operations in American history. The war ended
with agreements that involved one last payment of tribute, at least to Tripoli. Jefferson's
action on this matter caused him to rethink the need for a well-equipped navy
and halted his move to reduce the force to a mere token size.
way to look at American in world affairs during the Jeffersonian years is
through the use of commercial coercion during 1807-1808.Looking at the following cartoon – which was
wildly popular – reveals much about lingering Federalist opposition to the
A political cartoon showing merchants dodging the
"ograbme" = embargo spelled backwards.Printed in 1808 widely in newspapers.
Jefferson believed that Americans would
cooperate with the embargo out of patriotism. Instead, smuggling flourished,
particularly through Canada.
To enforce the embargo, Jefferson took steps
that infringed on his most cherished principles: individual liberties and
opposition to a strong military. He had to mobilize the army and navy to
enforce the blockade, and in April 1808, he declared the Lake Champlain region
of New York,
along the Canadian border, in a state of insurrection.
Early in 1809, three days before Jefferson left office, Congress repealed the embargo. In
effect for 15 months, it had exacted no political concessions from either France or Britain. But it had produced
economic hardship, evasion of the law, and political dissension at home.
Tying pictures to documents:
In 1808, Jefferson
issued a “letter” to the public in another broadside.The text follows:
“I have duly received the address
of that portion of the citizens of Stockbridge [Massachusetts] who have declared their
approbation of the present suspension of our commerce, and their dissent from
the representation of those of the same place who wished its removal. A
division of sentiment was not unexpected. On no question can a perfect
unanimity be hoped, or certainly it would have been on that between war and
embargo, the only alternatives presented to our choice; for the general capture
of our vessels would have been war on one side, which reason and interest would
repel by war and reprisal on our part.
Of the several interests composing
those of the United States,
that of manufactures would of course prefer to war, a state of non-intercourse,
so favorable to their rapid growth and prosperity. Agriculture, although
sensibly feeling the loss of market for its produce, would find many
aggravations in a state of war. Commerce and navigation, or that portion which
is foreign, in the inactivity to which they are reduced by the present state of
things, certainly experience their full share in the general inconvenience: but
whether war would to them be a preferable alternative, is a question their
patriotism would never hastily propose. It is to be regretted, however, that
overlooking the real sources of their sufferings, the British and French
Edicts, which constitute the actual blockade of our foreign commerce and
navigation, they have, with too little reflection, imputed them to laws which
have saved them from greater, and have preserved for our own use our vessels,
property and seamen, instead of adding them to the strength of those with whom
we might eventually have to contend.
The Embargo, giving time to the
belligerent powers to revise their unjust proceedings and to listen to the
dictates of justice, of interest and reputation, which equally urge the
correction of their wrongs, has availed our country of the only honorable
expedient for avoiding war: and should a repeal of these Edicts supersede the
cause for it, our commercial brethren will become sensible that it has
consulted their interests, however against their own will. It will be
unfortunate for their country if, in the mean time, these, their expressions of
impatience, should have the effect of prolonging the very suffering which have
produced them, by exciting a fallacious hope that we may, under any pressure,
relinquish our equal right of navigating the ocean, go to such ports only as
others may prescribe, and there pay the tributary exactions they may impose; an
abandonment of national independence and of essential rights revolting to every
manly sentiment: While these Edicts are in force, no American can ever consent
to a return of peaceable intercourse with those who maintain them.”
II.Jeffersonian Expanding across space:The Louisiana Purchase
Jefferson’s Vision and Plan for the West:
Jefferson's original overture for a western
exploratory party was directed to Revolutionary War hero, George Rogers Clark.
He begins his 1783 letter to Clark with the
two topics which pulled his thoughts westward: science and politics. He thanks
Clark for sending him shells and seeds and assures him that he would be pleased
to have as many bones, teeth and tusks of the mammoth as Clark
might be able to find. Then within the same paragraph Jefferson reveals his
apprehension at the rumor that money was being raised in England for exploration between the Mississippi and the
Pacific, and even though it was professed as only for knowledge, he feared
colonization. Jefferson then wonders, if money
could be raised in this country for western exploration, "How would you
like to lead such a party?" Clark declines Jefferson's request for
financial reasons, but as a hero of the western theatre of the Revolution, he
was quite knowledgeable of the Indians of the northwest territory and offered
advice on how to best proceed among the Indian peoples, advice which Jefferson stored away for future use. In later
correspondence Clark would recommend his youngest brother, William, as also
knowledgeable of the Indian territory and,
"well qualified almost for any business."
When Jefferson took the Oath of Office as the third
President of the United States on March 4, 1801, the nation had 5,308,483
people within its boundaries, which reached from the Atlantic Ocean in the east
to the Mississippi River in the west, from the Great Lakes in the north nearly
to the Gulf of Mexico in the south (roughly 1,000 miles by 1,000 miles). Only a
comparably small area was occupied, however, and two-thirds of the population
lived within 50 miles of the Atlantic.Jefferson and many of his contemporaries were
plantation owners. He and other “Virginia
gentlemen” ascribed to a distinct lifestyle. On their vast estates, they led
lives of refinement and enlightenment, hosting balls and dinners or discussing
politics, philosophy and religion.
In spite of their interest in personal rights,
country gentlemen built their abundant lifestyles with slave labor. Slave
life--enforced by the lash-was filled with planting and harvesting. Owners did
not perform this manual labor--they managed the details necessary to run the
plantation. In that day, plantation owners did not practice crop rotation, so
they continually sought more land to cultivate. Thus, as their plantations
expanded, the owners’ economic survival hinged on the availability of slaves to
work the land.
gentlemen, such as Meriwether Lewis, lacked the higher education and wealth of Jefferson’s peers. Public schools did not exist, so
planters often were educated by boarding with teachers-usually preachers or parsons-who
would school them in grammar, math, natural science and Latin. Thus, a
well-balanced education would complement their expertise in planting.Since the country estates were so far apart,
men such as Lewis acquired distinct wilderness skills. Lewis was, for example,
a great horseman, hunter and hiker. And such gentlemen traveling through the
region were presumed to know the social refinements of plantation life, such as
dancing, boxing and fiddle-playing.
While in Paris as minister to France, Jefferson joined in a plan for an
American explorer named John Ledyard
to cross Russia,
obtain water passage to some point on the North American coast, and explore
from the Pacific eastward. Jefferson supported
the venture but noted that despite Ledyard's ingenuity and information,
"Unfortunately he has too much imagination." Ledyard was arrested
within 200 miles of Kamschatka, escorted to the Polish border and charged not to
set foot within Russian territory again.
A more promising endeavor was instigated by Jefferson and fellow members of
the American Philosophical Society in 1793. They enlisted French botanist,
Andre Michaux, "to explore the country along the Missouri,
& thence Westwardly to the Pacific ocean."
Jefferson organized the subscription to
finance the expedition, and even though the undertaking was not under
government sponsorship, he appraised President Washington, who offered to
"readily add my mite" to the project. Jefferson's
instructions to Michaux on behalf of the Society reiterated the objective of
finding the shortest route to the Pacific with equal importance given to the
gathering of geographic and scientific data. But the expedition began to
unravel before reaching the Mississippi river, as it became apparent that
Michaux was involved in a French plot to gather support against the Spanish
settlements west of the Mississippi.
An important remnant of this truncated expedition was Jefferson's
written set of instructions to Michaux, which would reappear in a more detailed
form when delivered later to Meriwether Lewis.
These failed attempts undoubtedly added to Jefferson's store of information
on western exploration, and when circumstances placed him in a key position to
act, he was prepared to do so quickly and decisively. In his first inaugural
address in 1801 Jefferson envisioned, "A
rising nation, spread over a wide and fruitful land, advancing rapidly to
destinies beyond the reach of mortal eye." Less than two years later, on
January 18, 1803, he would deliver a confidential message to Congress outlining
a plan for exploring to the "Western Ocean," and requesting an
appropriation of $2,500 for what would become the Lewis and Clark Expedition. In
May 1804, as Lewis and Clark were poised to begin pushing westward along the
Missouri river, Jefferson must have felt more confidence in seeing his western
desideratum fulfilled, writing: "We shall delineate with correctness the
great arteries of this great country: those who come after us will fill up the
canvas we begin."
Thomas Jefferson was convinced that "getting there first" was
essential, one reason that he commissioned the Lewis and Clark expedition. He
believed the future of the young country lay in the West, and knew that other
countries had claims on western lands. Have students discuss what they know
about the mission of the expedition, and why it was important to Jefferson.
Woolly mammoths, Peruvian llamas, blue-eyed, Welsh-speaking Indians. In
1803, such myths defined the uncharted West. The Lewis and Clark expedition
later dispelled such speculations, including the most widely held myth and
hope: the existence of a “northwest passage.”Such a passage -- a river or series of connected rivers that would cross
the western mountains and reach the Pacific Ocean
-- would have allowed more direct commerce with the Orient. Thomas Jefferson
believed the discovery of the northwest passage would break open the wealth of North America.
Not all men in the South were content with or pursued the plantation life,
and like Lewis, many sought adventure. One means to find it was by enlisting in
the Army, where life often was spent on the frontier. It was the Army’s job to
maintain order in the outer U.S.
boundaries, usually with small, isolated groups of fewer than 100 officers and
men. Most of the soldiers and others who trekked through the frontier ended up
in Tennessee or Kentucky. Some traders and trappers went as
far as the Missouri River, but the idea of a
mass migration further west was still unrealistic.
In 1803, Only four roads crossed the Appalachian Mountains. But the United
States had the potential to become a powerful nation if
it could add the area west of the Mississippi
to its territory. At that time, however, people were skeptical that one nation
could govern an entire continent. The distance between the Appalachians and the
the limited transportation options, and the unanswered questions about the
western land were barriers to westward expansion. Also, horses were the fastest
mode of transportation, and the few roads or trails that existed were in poor
condition. It was impossible to get anything from the Mississippi to the Atlantic seaboard in
fewer than six weeks. These barriers helped quell ideas of spreading national
interests further west.The half-million
Americans (one out of 10) who already lived west of the Appalachian
Mountains, however, felt they had found their own “national”
interests. Since water routes were viewed as a source of commerce, many people
along the Mississippi viewed themselves as the seeds of an independent nation
that would tap into the world marketplace, not by going east to the Atlantic
seaboard, but by following the Ohio and Mississippi river system down to the Gulf
of Mexico.Jefferson knew the
inhabitants of this region posed a risk of secession from the United States. After all, the
nation, only 18 years old, was born of rebellion. He was determined to obtain
the vital trading port of New Orleans for the United States, in part to prevent
the West from breaking away.Other
nations also sought to control the West’s destiny but still knew little about
the region. Spanish conquistadors had explored the Southwest. French and
Spanish fur traders had ventured part of the way up the Missouri River, and the
British had visited the Mandan Indians in what is now North Dakota.
"This little event, of France's
possessing herself of Louisiana, is the embryo
of a tornado which will burst on the countries on both sides of the Atlantic and involve in it's effects their highest
Jefferson wrote this prediction in an April 1802 letter to Pierre Samuel du
Pont amid reports that Spain
would retrocede to France
the vast territory
of Louisiana. As the United States had expanded westward, navigation
of the Mississippi River and access to the port of New Orleans
had become critical to American commerce, so this transfer of authority was
cause for concern. Within a week of his letter to du Pont, Jefferson wrote U.S.
Minister to France Robert Livingston: "Every eye in the U.S. is now fixed on this affair of Louisiana. Perhaps
nothing since the revolutionary war has produced more uneasy sensations through
the body of the nation."
The presence of Spain
was not so provocative. A conflict over navigation of the Mississippi
had been resolved in 1795 with a treaty in which Spain
recognized the United States'
right to use the river and to deposit goods in New Orleans for transfer to oceangoing
vessels. In his letter to Livingston, Jefferson wrote, "Spain might have retained [New Orleans] quietly for years. Her pacific
dispositions, her feeble state, would induce her to increase our facilities
there, so that her possession of the place would be hardly felt by us." He
went on to speculate that "it would not perhaps be very long before some
circumstance might arise which might make the cession of it to us the price of
something of more worth to her."
The Louisiana situation reached a crisis
point in October 1802 when Spain's
King Charles IV signed a decree transferring the territory to France and the Spanish agent in New Orleans, acting on
orders from the Spanish court, revoked Americans' access to the port's
warehouses. These moves prompted outrage in the United States.
While Jefferson and Secretary of State James Madison worked to resolve the
issue through diplomatic channels, some factions in the West and the opposition
Federalist Party called for war and advocated secession by the western
territories in order to seize control of the lower Mississippi
and New Orleans.Aware of the need for action more visible
than diplomatic maneuverings and concerned with the threat of disunion,
Jefferson in January 1803 recommended that James Monroe join Livingston in Paris as minister
extraordinary. (Later that same month, Jefferson asked Congress to fund an
expedition that would cross the Louisiana
territory, regardless of who controlled it, and proceed on to the Pacific. This
would turn out to be the Lewis and Clark Expedition.) Monroe
was a close personal friend and political ally of Jefferson's, but he also
owned land in Kentucky
and had spoken openly for the rights of the western territories.Jefferson urged Monroe to accept the posting, saying he
possessed "the unlimited confidence of the administration and of the
western people." Jefferson added:
"All eyes, all hopes, are now fixed on you . for on the event of this
mission depends the future destinies of this republic.”Monroe's instructions, drawn up by Madison
and approved by Jefferson, allocated up to $10 million for the purchase of New
Orleans and all or part of the Floridas. If this bid failed, Monroe
was instructed to try to purchase just New Orleans,
or, at the very least, secure U.S.
access to the Mississippi
and the port. But when Monroe reached Paris on April
12, 1803, he learned from Livingston
that a very different offer was on the table.
Napoleon's plans to re-establish France
in the New World were unraveling. The French
army sent to suppress a rebellion by slaves and free blacks in the sugar-rich
colony of Saint Domingue (present-day Haiti)
had been decimated by yellow fever, and a new war with Britain seemed inevitable. France's minister of finance, Francois de
Barbé-Marbois, who had always doubted Louisiana's
worth, counseled Napoleon that Louisiana would
be less valuable without Saint Domingue and, in the event of war, the territory
would likely be taken by the British from Canada. France
could not afford to send forces to occupy the entire MississippiValley, so why not abandon the idea of
empire in America and sell
the territory to the United
Napoleon agreed. On April 11, Foreign Minister Charles Maurice de Talleyrand
told Livingston that France
was willing to sell all of Louisiana.
Livingston informed Monroe
upon his arrival the next day. Seizing on what Jefferson later called "a
fugitive occurrence," Monroe and Livingston
immediately entered into negotiations and on April 30 reached an agreement that
exceeded their authority - the purchase of the Louisiana
territory, including New Orleans,
for $15 million. The acquisition of approximately 827,000 square miles would
double the size of the United
The Senate ratified the treaty Oct. 20 by a vote of 24 to 7.
Spain, upset by the sale but
without the military power to block it, formally returned Louisiana
on Nov. 30. France
officially transferred the territory to the Americans on Dec. 20, and the United States
took formal possession on Dec. 30.Jefferson's
prediction of a "tornado" that would burst upon the countries on both
sides of the Atlantic had been averted, but his belief that the affair of Louisiana would impact
upon "their highest destinies" proved prophetic indeed.
18, 1803, President Jefferson sent a confidential message to
Congress, stating in part, “The river Missouri
and the Indians inhabiting it, are not as well known as is rendered desirable
by their connection with the Mississippi,
and consequently with us. . .”Jefferson
went on to propose that an “intelligent officer with ten or twelve chosen men .
. . might explore the whole line, even to the WesternOcean.”
This proposal culminated Jefferson’s long-standing but quiet plans to send a
trailblazing expedition into the great void beyond the Mississippi. The political climate in 1803
complicated Jefferson’s request. He had asked
Congress to authorize a military reconnaissance into unknown lands that already
were claimed by the two most powerful nations in the world, France and Britain,
with a third, Spain, clinging to a hold in the south and far west. Jefferson
already had approached Spanish officials administering the region on behalf of France, seeking their approval to pass through
the LouisianaTerritory for the purposes of
exploration. Spanish ambassador Don Carlos Martinez objected, but Jefferson pressed ahead with his request to Congress.Knowing there would be skeptics, especially
among his foes in the Federalist party, Jefferson
worded his message in a way that minimized military risks and used commercial
gains as the bait. He made the temptation cheap, asking only $2,500 to fund the
expedition (although actual costs reached $38,722). On February 28, 1803, Congress approved Jefferson’s request.
Congress’ approval of the journey was a big step forward,
yet within months it would be eclipsed by an agreement that not only
transformed the purpose of the expedition but the very destiny of the United States.It began with a bid from Jefferson’s
emissaries in Paris to buy the vital trading port of New Orleans. Negotiations had gone
nowhere until Napoleon Bonaparte, preparing for another war with England, suddenly announced that the United States could have New
Orleans if it would take the entire 820,000-square mile LouisianaTerritory for $15 million (about three
cents an acre).Bonaparte had his own reasons for the dramatic
offer. He held title to Louisiana
but had little power to enforce it. The Americans, he believed, were sure to
overrun the area long before he could get an army there, if he ever could.
Further, the land sale would empower a young nation that shared one of France’s common rivals: England.Amazed by the offer, Jefferson
accepted and rushed the treaty through Congress, in spite of doubts about its
constitutionality. Federalists attacked the purchase not only as a blatant use
of executive power, but as a waste of money. Nevertheless, the treaty was
signed on April 30, 1803.
In a single stroke, the size of the United States was doubled.
The Louisiana Purchase was not publicly announced until July
3, just two days before Meriwether Lewis left Washington,
D.C., for Pittsburgh to begin purchasing supplies and
hiring men for the expedition. For Lewis, the purchase changed what would have
been a semi-covert mission through foreign territory into a bold survey of
sent Lewis off with several pages of specific instructions about what
information to collect during the journey: What were the Indians like? What
were their languages, their customs, their medical habits? Jefferson
craved details of the plant and animal life, the minerals and the mountains.
And, of course, he wanted to know the possibilities for trade.To ensure the expedition’s success in
obtaining whatever it would need to meet his goals, Jefferson signed and gave
Lewis a one-page letter pledging “the faith of the United States” to reimburse
anyone for any goods or services that Lewis needed.So the expedition had a limitless line of
credit, and rightly so, in Jefferson’s view.
He was asking Meriwether Lewis and William Clark not only to chart the new
territory of the United
States, but the nation's destiny.
18, 1803, President Jefferson sent a confidential
letter to Congress asking for $2,500 to fund an expedition to
the Pacific Ocean. He hoped to establish trade
with the Native American people of the West and find a water route to the
Pacific. Jefferson also was fascinated by the prospect of what could be learned
about the geography of the West, the lives and languages of the Native
Americans, the plants and animals, the soil, the rocks, the weather, and how
they differed from those in the East.
the 20th of June, 1803,
President Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter
to his protegé, Captain Meriwether Lewis, outlining what Lewis and Clark should
learn on their expedition into the newly-acquired Louisiana
reveals Jefferson's ferocious curiousity as well as his foresight about what
the region could come to mean to the United States. A child of the
Enlightenment, Jefferson was as much scientist as statesman, and his writings
addressed botany and politics with equal ardor.
As Jefferson groomed
Meriwether Lewis to head an expedition to explore the West, it was
understandable that he would turn to fellow members of the American Philosophical Society
for support. This was the oldest learned society in the United States, and one dedicated to
furthering knowledge of the natural sciences as well as cultivating the arts.
Its creation is credited largely to Benjamin Franklin, who in 1743 drafted
"A Proposal for Promoting Useful Knowledge among the British Plantations
Franklin reasoned that, "The first Drudgery of Settling new Colonies,
which confines the Attention of People to mere Necessaries, is now pretty well
over," and it was time to begin cultivating the arts and accumulating
useful knowledge. He proposed Philadelphia as
the seat of the new Society due to its central location among the colonies and
volunteered to serve as the first secretary, as he encouraged active
correspondence between the colonies and with similar organizations in Europe.
The Society was well established by the time Jefferson was elected to membership in 1780. His avid
interest in science led to a long and active participation within the Society,
serving as its President from 1797 to 1815. And so in 1803 with preparations
underway for the long anticipated expedition to explore the West, he called
upon the assistance of fellow members of the American Philosophical Society. Jefferson sent Meriwether Lewis to Philadelphia for instruction and counseling
with botanist Benjamin Smith Barton, mathematics professor Robert Patterson,
physician and professor of chemistry Benjamin Rush and Caspar Wistar, physician
and professor of anatomy. Lewis met also with Andrew Ellicott, surveyor and
mathematician, while John Vaughn, librarian and treasurer of the Society,
worked to secure the appropriate instruments needed for Lewis to record
longitudes and latitudes on the western trip.
This was not the first time that members of the American
Philosophical Society had supported Jefferson's
dream of western exploration. In 1793 Jefferson
had initiated a subscription within the Society to finance an expedition to be
led by French botanist, Andre Michaux, but this expedition dissolved before
reaching the Mississippi river. Still Jefferson must have been sure of their common goal for he
closed his letter requesting Benjamin Smith Barton's assistance with, "I
make no apology for this trouble, because I know that the same wish to promote
science which has induced me to bring forward this proposition, will induce you
to aid in promoting it." The goal of promoting science was innate in the
Society from its inception and a comparison of Franklin's initial "Proposal for
Promoting Useful Knowledge" and Jefferson's
instructions to Meriwether Lewis on the eve of his departure for the West
parallel in their objectives. Among the topics of correspondence suggested by Franklin were: newly
discovered plants, herbs and trees; discoveries of fossils, mines and minerals;
surveys, maps and charts including the junction of rivers and roads and the
location of lakes and mountains; and along with the improvement of domesticated
animals, the introduction of "sorts from foreign countries." The support of the American Philosophical
Society in the success of the expedition was not to go without reward, as the
Society became a major repository for many of the objects and original
Activity:Maps and Geography:
addition to these, an excellent array of maps is available on the
Geographic Xpeditions. Students can obtain state maps with most of
the locations using the site's Atlas feature. Many locations can be found by
searching within the Map Machine.
Questions for Students:
1.What claims did other countries have on this
land?How would they have responded to America’s
efforts to explore and settle the Purchase?
2.What can you see on the maps that explains
the importance of the La. Purchase?
3.What did Americans know about the West at
this time (1803)?
4.What area do you think Jefferson
knew the least about? Why?
5.Who else had information about this land –
what competing interests in the American East; what about native
Americans?[will be covered below, too]
Proposed Western Expeditions Before Lewis and Clark
1783 - Jefferson approaches George Rogers Clark to lead an
expedition to explore the West provided the money can be raised. Clark declines but later suggests his youngest brother,
William, "as well qualified almost for any business."
1784 - Jefferson introduces in Congress the Ordinance of 1784,
which set forth the principle that new states could be formed from the western
territories and admitted to the Union on an
equal basis with the original states.
1786 - While
minister to France, Jefferson joins in a plan to support American explorer John
Ledyard to travel eastward across Siberia, secure passage of a ship to some
point on the western coast of North America, then travel east across the continent.
Ledyard was arrested in Russia
and sent back to Europe.
1793 - Jefferson enlists other members of the American
Philosophical Society to sponsor André Michaux, a French botanist to "find
the shortest & most convenient route of communication between the U.S. & the Pacific Ocean." The expedition was abandoned east of
due to political intrigues.
Also in that year, Scottish native Alexander Mackenzie leads a small party from
FortFork on the Peace
River in Canada
to the Straits of Georgia on the Pacific Ocean.
In 1802, Jefferson obtains a copy of
Mackenzie's account of the journey and is energized by the report of an easy
mountain crossing and Mackenzie's call for Great Britain to claim the Columbia River for its own.
Other Explorations Sponsored During Jefferson's
1805 - The
territorial governor of Louisiana,
General James Wilkinson (who would later play a key role in the affair
surrounding Aaron Burr's western intrigues), persuades President Jefferson to
authorize an expedition to explore the headwaters of the Mississippi. General Wilkinson appoints
Lieutenant Zebulon Pike to lead the party with orders to negotiate peace
treaties with Indian tribes, to assert legal claim to the area, and to scout
for potential military outposts. The party reached LakeLeech
near the present-day Canadian border before returning.
1806 - Promoted to
Captain, Pike is again appointed by General Wilkinson to lead an expedition to
explore the Red and ArkansasRivers from St. Louis. Pike enters Colorado where he
unsuccessfully attempts to scale the mountain known today as Pike's
Peak. Turning directions, Pike entered Spanish New Mexico. His
party was arrested by Spanish authorities, escorted to the Louisiana border, and released in 1807.
An Activity:Reading Documents
A.Jefferson's Confidential Letter to Congress
"Gentlemen of the Senate,
and of the House of Representatives:
"As the continuance of the act for establishing trading houses with the
Indian tribes will be under the consideration of the Legislature at its present
session, I think it my duty to communicate the views which have guided me in
the execution of that act, in order that you may decide on the policy of
continuing it, in the present or any other form, or discontinue it altogether,
if that shall, on the whole, seem most for the public good.
"The Indian tribes residing within the limits of the United States,
have, for a considerable time, been growing more and more uneasy at the
constant diminution of the territory they occupy, although effected by their
own voluntary sales: and the policy has long been gaining strength with them,
of refusing absolutely all further sale, on any conditions; insomuch that, at
this time, it hazards their friendship, and excites dangerous jealousies and
perturbations in their minds to make any overture for the purchase of the
smallest portions of their land. A very few tribes only are not yet obstinately
in these dispositions. In order peaceably to counteract this policy of theirs,
and to provide an extension of territory which the rapid increase of our
numbers will call for, two measures are deemed expedient. First: to encourage
them to abandon hunting, to apply to the raising stock, to agriculture and
domestic manufacture, and thereby prove to themselves that less land and labor
will maintain them in this, better than in their former mode of living. The
extensive forests necessary in the hunting life, will then become useless, and
they will see advantage in exchanging them for the means of improving their
farms, and of increasing their domestic comforts. Secondly: to multiply trading
houses among them, and place within their reach those things which will
contribute more to their domestic comfort, than the possession of extensive,
but uncultivated wilds. Experience and reflection will develop to them the
wisdom of exchanging what they can spare and we want, for what we can spare and
they want. In leading them to agriculture, to manufactures, and civilization;
in bringing together their and our settlements, and in preparing them
ultimately to participate in the benefits of our governments, I trust and
believe we are acting for their greatest good. At these trading houses we have
pursued the principles of the act of Congress, which directs that the commerce
shall be carried on liberally, and requires only that the capital stock shall
not be diminished. We consequently undersell private traders, foreign and
domestic, drive them from the competition; and thus, with the good will of the
Indians, rid ourselves of a description of men who are constantly endeavoring
to excite in the Indian mind suspicions, fears, and irritations towards us. A
letter now enclosed, shows the effect of our competition on the operations of
the traders, while the Indians, perceiving the advantage of purchasing from us,
are soliciting generally, our establishment of trading houses among them. In
one quarter this is particularly interesting. The Legislature, reflecting on
the late occurrences on the Mississippi, must be sensible how desirable it is
to possess a respectable breadth of country on that river, from our Southern
limit to the Illinois at least; so that we may present as firm a front on that as
on our Eastern border. We possess what is below the Yazoo,
and can probably acquire a certain breadth from the Illinois and Wabash
to the Ohio;
but between the Ohio
and Yazoo, the country all belongs to the
Chickasaws, friendly tribe within our limits, but the most decided against the
alienation of lands. The portion of their country most important for us is
exactly that which they do not inhabit. Their settlements are not on the Mississippi, but in the
interior country. They have lately shown a desire to become agricultural; and
this leads to the desire of buying implements and comforts. In the
strengthening and gratifying of these wants, I see the only prospect of
planting on the Mississippi
itself, the means of its own safety. Duty has required me to submit these views
to the judgment of the Legislature; but as their disclosure might embarrass and
defeat their effect, they are committed to the special confidence of the two
"While the extension of the public commerce among the Indian tribes,
may deprive of that source of profit such of our citizens as are engaged in it,
it might be worthy the attention of Congress, in their care of individual as
well as of the general interest, to point, in another direction, the enterprise
of these citizens, as profitably for themselves, and more usefully for the
public. The river Missouri,
and the Indians inhabiting it, are not as well known as is rendered desirable
by their connexion with the Mississippi,
and consequently with us. It is, however, understood, that the country on that
river is inhabited by numerous tribes, who furnish great supplies of furs and
peltry to the trade of another nation, carried on in a high latitude, through
an infinite number of portages and lakes, shut up by ice through a long season.
The commerce on that line could bear no competition with that of the Missouri,
traversing a moderate climate, offering according to the best accounts, a
continued navigation from its source, and possibly with a single portage, from
the Western Ocean, and finding to the Atlantic a choice of channels through the
Illinois or Wabash, the lakes and Hudson, through the Ohio and Susquehanna, or
Potomac or James rivers, and through the Tennessee and Savannah, rivers. An
intelligent officer, with ten or twelve chosen men, fit for the enterprise, and
willing to undertake it, taken from our posts, where they may be spared without
inconvenience, might explore the whole line, even to the Western Ocean, have
conferences with the natives on the subject of commercial intercourse, get
admission among them for our traders, as others are admitted, agree on
convenient deposits for an interchange of articles, and return with the
information acquired, in the course of two summers. Their arms and
accoutrements, some instruments of observation, and light and cheap presents
for the Indians, would be all the apparatus they could carry, and with an
expectation of a soldier's portion of land on their return, would constitute
the whole expense. Their pay would be going on, whether here or there. While
other civilized nations have encountered great expense to enlarge the
boundaries of knowledge by undertaking voyages of discovery, and for other
literary purposes, in various parts and directions, our nation seems to owe to
the same object, as well as to its own interests, to explore this, the only
line of easy communication across the continent, and so directly traversing our
own part of it. The interests of commerce place the principal object within the
constitutional powers and care of Congress, and that it should incidentally
advance the geographical knowledge of our own continent, cannot be but an
additional gratification. The nation claiming the territory, regarding this as
a literary pursuit, which is in the habit of permitting within its dominions,
would not be disposed to view it with jealousy, even if the expiring state of
its interests there did not render it a matter of indifference. The
appropriation of two thousand five hundred dollars, "for the purpose of
extending the external commerce of the United States," while
understood and considered by the Executive as giving the legislative sanction,
would cover the undertaking from notice, and prevent the obstructions which
interested individuals might otherwise previously prepare in its way."
Jan. 18. 1803
B.Instructions to Meriwether Lewis, June 20, 1803:
Meriwether Lewis esq. Capt. of the 1st regimt. of infantry of the U. S. of A.
Your situation as Secretary of the President of the U. S. has made
you acquainted with the objects of my confidential message of Jan. 18, 1803 to the
legislature; you have seen the act they passed, which, tho' expressed in
general terms, was meant to sanction those objects, and you are appointed to
carry them into execution.
Instruments for ascertaining, by celestial observations, the
geography of the country through which you will pass, have been already
provided. Light articles for barter and presents among the Indians, arms for
your attendants, say for from 10. to 12. men, boats, tents, & other
travelling apparatus, with ammunition, medecine, surgical instruments and
provisions you will have prepared with such aids as the Secretary at War can
yield in his department; & from him also you will recieve authority to
engage among our troops, by voluntary agreement, the number of attendants above
mentioned, over whom you, as their commanding officer, are invested with all
the powers the laws give in such a case.
As your movements while within the limits of the U.S. will be
better directed by occasional communications, adapted to circumstances as they
arise, they will not be noticed here. What follows will respect your
proceedings after your departure from the United states.
Your mission has been communicated to the ministers here
from France, Spain & Great Britain, and through them to their governments;
& such assurances given them as to its objects, as we trust will satisfy
them. The country [of Louisiana] having been ceded by Spain to France, the
passport you have from the minister of France, the representative of the
present sovereign of the country, will be a protection with all its subjects;
& that from the minister of England will entitle you to the friendly aid of
any traders of that allegiance with whom you may happen to meet.
The object of your mission is to explore the Missouri river,
& such principal stream of it, as, by it's course & communication with
the waters of the Pacific Ocean, whether the Columbia, Oregan, Colorado or and
other river may offer the most direct & practicable water communication
across this continent, for the purposes of commerce.
Beginning at the mouth of the Missouri, you will take careful
observations of latitude & longitude, at all remarkeable points on the
river, & especially at the mouths of rivers, at rapids, at islands, &
other places & objects distinguished by such natural marks & characters
of a durable kind, as that they may with certainty be recognised hereafter. The
courses of the river between these points of observation may be supplied by the
compass the log-line & by time, corrected by the observations themselves.
The variations of the compass too, in different places, should be noticed.
The interesting points of the portage between the heads of
the Missouri, & of the water offering the best communication with the
Pacific ocean, should also be fixed by observation, & the course of that
water to the ocean, in the same manner as that of the Missouri.
Your observations are to be taken with great pains &
accuracy, to be entered distinctly & intelligibly for others as well as
yourself, to comprehend all the elements necessary, with the aid of the usual
tables, to fix the latitude and longitude of the places at which they were
taken, and are to be rendered to the war-office, for the purpose of having the
calculations made concurrently by proper persons within the U.S. Several copies
of these as well as of your other notes should be made at leisure times, &
put into the care of the most trustworthy of your attendants, to guard, by
multiplying them, against the accidental losses to which they will be exposed.
A further guard would be that one of these copies be on the paper of the birch,
as less liable to injury from damp than common paper.
The commerce which may be carried on with the people
inhabiting the line you will pursue, renders a knolege of those people
important. You will therefore endeavor to make yourself acquainted, as far as a
diligent pursuit of your journey shall admit, with the names of the nations
& their numbers;
the extent & limits of their possessions; their
relations with other tribes of nations; their language, traditions, monuments;
their ordinary occupations in agriculture, fishing, hunting, war, arts, &
the implements for these;
their food, clothing, & domestic accommodations;
the diseases prevalent among them, & the remedies they use;
moral & physical circumstances which distinguish them from the tribes we
know; peculiarities in their laws, customs & dispositions;
and articles of commerce they may need or furnish, & to what extent.
And, considering the interest which every nation has in
extending & strengthening the authority of reason & justice among the
people around them, it will be useful to acquire what knolege you can of the
state of morality, religion, & information among them; as it may better
enable those who endeavor to civilize & instruct them, to adapt their
measure to the existing notions & practices of those on whom they are to
Other objects worthy of notice will be --- the soil &
face of the country, it's growth & vegetable productions, esp those not of
the animals of the country generally, & especially those not known in the
U.S. the remains or accounts of any which may be deemed rare or extinct; the
mineral productions of every kind; but more particularly metals, limestone, pit
coal, & saltpetre; salines & mineral waters, noting the temperature of
the last, & such circumstances as may indicate their character;
climate, as characterized by the thermometer, by the proportion of rainy,
cloudy, & clear days, by lightening, hail, snow, ice, by the access &
recess of frost, by the winds prevailing at different seasons, the dates at
which particular plants put forth or lose their flower, or leaf, times of
appearance of particular birds, reptiles or insects.
Altho' your route will be along the channel of the Missouri,
yet you will endeavor to inform yourself, by enquiry, of the character &
extent of the country watered by it's branches, & especially on it's
Southern side. The North river or Rio Bravo which runs into the gulph of
Mexico, and the North river, or Rio colorado which runs into the gulph of
California, are understood to be the principal streams heading opposite to the
waters of the Missouri, and running Southwardly. Whether the dividing grounds
between the Missouri
& them are mountains or flatlands, what are their distance from the Missouri, the character
of the intermediate country, & the people inhabiting it, are worthy of
particular enquiry. The Northern waters of the Missouri are less to be enquired after,
becaue they have been ascertained to a considerable degree, & are still in
a course of ascertainment by English traders, and travellers. But if you can
learn any thing certain of the most Northern source of the Missisipi, & of
its position relatively to the lake of the woods, it will be interesting to us.
Some account too of the path of the
Canadian traders from the Missisipi, at the mouth of the Ouisconsin to where it
strikes the Missouri,
& of the soil and rivers in it's course, is desireable.
In all your intercourse with the natives, treat them in the
most friendly & conciliatory manner which their own conduct will admit;
allay all jealousies as to the object of your journey, satisfy them of its
innocence, make them acquainted with the position, extent, character, peaceable
& commercial dispositions of the U.S. of our wish to be neighborly,
friendly & useful to them, & of our dispositions to a commercial
intercourse with them; confer with them on the points most convenient as mutual
emporiums, and the articles of most desireable interchange for them & us.
If a few of their influential chiefs, within practicable distance, wish to
visit us, arrange such a visit with them, and furnish them with authority to
call on our officers, on their entering the U.S to have them conveyed to this
place at the public expense. If any of them should wish to have some of their
young people brought up with us, & taught such arts as may be useful to
them, we will receive, instruct & take care of them. Such a mission,
whether of influential chiefs or of young people, would give some security to
your own party. Carry with you some matter of the kinepox; inform those of them
with whom you may be, of it'[s] efficacy as a preservative from the small-pox;
& instruct & incourage them in the use of it. This may be especially
done wherever you winter.
As it is impossible for us to foresee in what manner you
will be recieved by those people, whether with hospitality or hostility, so is
it impossible to prescribe the exact degree of perseverance with which you are
to pursue your journey. We value too much the lives of citizens to offer them
to probable destruction. Your numbers will be sufficient to secure you against
the unauthorised opposition of individuals or of small parties: but if a
superior force, authorised, or not authorised, by a nation, should be arrayed
against your further passage, and inflexibly determined to arrest it, you must
decline its further pursuit, and return. In the loss of yourselves, we should
lose also the information you will have acquired. By returning safely with
that, you may enable us to renew the essay with better calculated means. To
your own discretion therefore must be left the degree of danger you may risk,
and the point at which you should decline, only saying we wish you to err on
the side of your safety, and to bring back your party safe even it if be with
As far up the Missouri
as the white settlements extend, an intercourse will probably be found to exist
between them & the Spanish post of St.
Louis opposite Cahokia,
or Ste. Genevieve opposite Kaskaskia. From still further up the river, the
traders may furnish a conveyance for letters. Beyond that, you may perhaps be
able to engage Indian to bring letters for the government to Cahokia
or Kaskaskia, on promising that they shall there receive such special
compensation as you shall have stipulated with them. Avail yourself of these
means to communicate to us, at seasonable intervals, a copy of your journal,
notes & observations, of every kind, putting into cypher whatever might do
injury if betrayed.
Should you reach the Pacific ocean inform yourself of the
circumstances which may decide whether the furs of those parts may not be
collected as advantageously at the head of the Missouri (convenient as it
supposed to the waters of the Colorado & Oregan or Columbia) as at Nootka
sound, or any other point of that coast; and that trade be consequently
conducted through the Missouri & U.S. more beneficially than by the
circumnavigation now practised.
On your arrival on that coast endeavor to learn if there be
any port within your reach frequented by the sea-vessels of any nation, &
to send two of your trusty people back by sea, in such way as shall appear practicable,
with a copy of your notes: and should you be of opinion that the return of your
party by the way they went will be eminently dangerous, then ship the whole,
& return by sea, by way either of cape Horn, or the cape of good Hope, as
you shall be able. As you will be without money, clothes or provisions, you
must endeavor to use the credit of the U.S. to obtain them, for which purpose
open letters of credit shall be furnished you, authorising you to draw upon the
Executive of the U.S. or any of its officers, in any part of the world, on
which draughts can be disposed of, & to apply with our recommendations to
the Consuls, agents, merchants, or citizens of any nation with which we have
intercourse, assuring them, in our name, that any aids they may furnish you,
shall be honorably repaid, and on demand. Our consuls Thomas Hewes at Batavia in Java, Win.
Buchanan in the Isles of France & Bourbon, & John Elmslie at the Cape of good Hope will be able to supply your necessities
by draughts on us.
Should you find it safe to return by the way you go, after
sending two of your party around by sea, or with your whole party, if no
conveyance by sea can be found, do so; making such observations on your return,
as may serve to supply, correct or confirm those made on your outward journey.
On re-entering the U.S. and reaching a place of safety,
discharge any of your attendants who may desire & deserve it, procuring for
them immediate paiment of all arrears of pay & cloathing which may have
incurred since their departure, and assure them that they shall be recommended
to the liberality of the legislature for the grant of a souldier's portion of
land each, as proposed in my message to Congress: & repair yourself with
papers to the seat of government.
To provide, on the accident of your death, against anarchy,
dispersion, & the consequent danger to your party, and total failure of the
enterprize, you are hereby authorised, by any instrument signed & written
in your own hand, to name the person among them who shall succeed to the
command on your decease, and by like instruments to change the nomination from
time to time as further experience of the characters accompanying you shall
point out superior fitness: and all the powers and authorities given to
yourself are, in the event of your death, transferred to, & vested in the
successor so named, with further power to him, and his successors in like
manner to name each his successor, who, on the death of his predecessor, shall
be invested with all the powers & authorities given to yourself.
to consider with students:
Why would this huge piece of
territory be important to the U.S.?
According to his letter, what use
did Jefferson forsee for the Louisiana
Did he have immediate goals which
differed from his long-term goals for how the land would be used?
Examine each instruction Jefferson gave to Lewis. What would be the use of this
sort of information? What does the variety of the information Jefferson
requested illustrate about Jefferson and his
In what ways does the document
illustrate the competition between European powers and the United States
in the region? Do the instructions assume that one nation's claim on the
continent is higher than anothers? Why?
What evidence is there that Jefferson has given a great deal of thought to the
exploration appear in the instructions? What does this say about Jefferson as president? What does this say about Jefferson as an Enlightenment figure?
How does Jefferson
instruct Lewis and Clark to treat the Indians they meet? Why does he require
them to do so?
wrote: "Altho' your route will be along the channel of the Missouri, yet you will
endeavor to inform yourself, by enquiry, of the character & extent of the
country watered by its branches, & especially on its Southern side."
What does this instruction signify? Why "especially on its Southern
The famous historian Frederick Jackson
Turner argued in 1893 that the land on the other side of the
"frontier" is "empty," despite Native American and Spanish
settlement in the region. Why does Jefferson
not do so in 1803?
Write a mission statement
explaining the conquest or exploration of some territory.Write slogans that encapsulate such a
Write a list of what Jefferson wanted to accomplish
Why would Lewis and
Clark be willing to go on this venture?
A Third Set of Activities:
examining the “voyage” into the West
Preparation for the journey:
President Jefferson's choice to lead an expedition was Meriwether Lewis, his
former secretary and a fellow native of Albemarle
Having reached the rank of captain in the U.S. Army, Lewis possessed military
discipline and experience that would prove invaluable. While in the Army, Lewis
had served in a rifle company commanded by William Clark. It was Clark whom
Lewis chose to assist him in leading this U.S. Army expedition, commonly known
today as the "Corps of Discovery." On February 28, 1803, Congress appropriated funds
for the Expedition, and Jefferson's dream came
closer to becoming a reality.
It was important for Lewis to gain certain scientific skills and to buy
equipment that would be needed on the journey. In the spring of 1803, Lewis
traveled to Philadelphia
to study with the leading scientists of the day. Andrew Ellicott taught Lewis
map making and surveying. Benjamin Smith Barton tutored Lewis in botany, Robert
Patterson in mathematics, Caspar Wistar in anatomy and fossils, and Benjamin
Rush in medicine. During this time, he also twice visited the arsenal at Harpers Ferry to obtain rifles and other supplies that he
had shipped to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he was to recruit men
and make last-minute purchases before setting off on the Ohio
River to meet Clark.
In response to the opening of his mail by European postmasters during his
service as Minister to France
(1784-1789), Jefferson began to rely heavily
on codes to send important messages. He belief in the in the practice was
strong enough to prompt him to invent his own encoding device, the Wheel Cipher
(seen at right). While it appears Jefferson
abandoned the use of the Wheel Cipher after 1802, he continued to use codes
throughout the remainder of his public career, including two that are
associated with his communications with Lewis:
dated April 20, 1803, that Jefferson sent to
Meriwether Lewis to encode messages as the Expedition proceeded.
Students love this “coded messages” stuff!Try an exercise using the link above to give
you information about what a cipher is, and how it was used.
Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and 31 other persons comprised
the “Permanent Party” of the 1804-1806 Lewis and Clark Expedition. Although
many individuals were associated with the military cadre during its 1803-1804
initial stages of travel from Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania to Fort Mandan, North Dakota,
only those 33 members who journeyed from FortMandan
to Fort Clatsop, Oregon, and returned comprised the Permanent
Party. In addition, there was a 34th member – Seaman, Captain Lewis’ “dogg of
The party of 33 included 29 individuals who were active participants in the
Corps’ organizational development, recruitment and training at its 1803-1804
winter staging area at Camp Dubois,
Illinois Territory; its journey
up the Missouri River; and its stay at FortMandan,
the expedition’s 1804-1805 winter headquarters. Two members originally
recruited for the Pacific bound party, Privates Moses Reed and John Newman,
were dismissed before the explorers reached FortMandan.
Reed was convicted for desertion, and Newman for “mutinous acts.” Stiff
sentences, including “100 lashes on [Newman’s] bear back” were imposed through
trials by court martial proceedings. Due to the remote, wilderness places of
their crimes, both remained with the party over the FortMandan
winter, doing hard labor. They were sent downriver aboard the keelboat in the
spring of 1806.
Two French-Canadian fur traders, Jean Baptiste LePage and Toussaint
Charbonneau, were enlisted at FortMandan to replace Newman
and Reed. LePage held the rank of private, and Charbonneau, together with his
Shoshone Indian wife, Sacagawea, who would be burdened with their infant boy,
Jean Baptiste, were recruited as interpreters. The Fort Mandan-to-Fort Clatsop
personnel were of white, black, and red racial origins, plus mixtures of the
three. The oldest among the men was Charbonneau, who was 47 years old.
Sacagawea was a teenager thought to be approximately 17. Jean Baptiste
Charbonneau, whom Captain Clark affectionately nicknamed “Pomp” and “Pompy” for
his “little dancing boy” antics, was only 55 days old when the explorers
departed Fort Mandan on April 7, 1805, bound for the Pacific Ocean.
The following are biographical vignettes of each of the 33 permanent party
members. All the men were hand-picked; the two officers for their leadership
abilities, and their detachment for frontier, hunting, woodcutting, specialized
craftmanship, and interpreting skills. Those who distinguished themselves
during the mission for their more than routine contributions, or were unique
members, are treated individually. A total of 12 who made no special mark are
listed collectively, with their individual activities noted in appropriate
Lewis, on January 15,
1807, in transmitting to the Secretary of War his roll of the men
who accompanied him on his exploring mission “through the continent of North America,” gave praise and gratitude collectively to
the members of the Corps of Discovery:
“With rispect to all those persons whose names are entered on this roll, I
feel a peculiar pleasure in declaring, that the Ample support which they gave
me under every difficulty; the manly firmness which they evinced on every
necessary occasion; and the patience and fortitude with which they submited to,
and bore, the fatigues and painful sufferings incident to my late tour to the
Pacific Ocean, entitles them to my warmest approbation and thanks; nor will I
suppress the expression of a hope, that the recollection of services thus
faithfully performed will meet a just reward in an ample remuneration on the
party of our Government.” – Meriwether Lewis, Captain 1st U.S. Regt.
"We were now about to penetrate a country at least two
thousand miles in width, on which the foot of civilized man had never trodden
... I could but esteem this moment of my departure as among the most happy of
my life."--Meriwether Lewis
During much of their journey, Meriwether Lewis
and William Clark had no idea what they would encounter next. And, in a sense,
that is how everyone lives every day. Even when we think we know what's around
the corner, life can throw surprises at us. The story of Lewis and Clark is the
universal story of human beings dealing with the unexpected. It's also great
entertainment with a compelling cast of characters—an adventure, a road trip, a
buddy story. It's about teamwork and failure and success. It brims with history
Looking at historic maps of the West, students can begin to
appreciate the immensity and mystery of the mission Lewis and Clark
accepted. As "experts" investigating specific subjects assigned to
Lewis by President Jefferson, students will conduct careful research. Reading
brief diary entries of the men of the Corps will spark the interest of students
as they relive the discoveries of the original participants.
"The lack of detail in maps circa 1803 hinted at the
enormous task to be faced by the Lewis and Clark expedition. Before the
journey, Meriwether Lewis had map collector Albert Gallatin make a special map
that showed North America from the Pacific coast
to the Mississippi."
map depicted only three points of certainty: the latitude and longitude of the
mouth of the Columbia
and of St. Louis,
and details of what was known of the Missouri River
up to the Mandan
villages in the Great Bend
of the river (today's Bismarck,
North Dakota). The map also
estimated how the Rockies might look and the
course of the Columbia River, which no one had
charted beyond its mouth.
But the area that lay west of the Mandan
villages was blank, and the best minds in the world could not fill in that
blank until someone had walked the land, taken measurements and described the
flora, fauna, rivers, mountains and people. Observations of the commercial and
agricultural possibilities of the regions were equally crucial.
After reviewing the map, students can
read excerpts from the trip diaries. These are readily available on-line.
Lewis's Packing List
In preparation for the journey, Meriwether Lewis wrote a
list of necessary items to be taken. Due to Lewis's spelling, some of the words
may not look familiar to you; please sound them out phonetically to understand
them. See http://media.nara.gov/media/images/19/29/19-2831a.gif
for a look at the manuscript version of the Indian gifts.Much of that preparation involved education;
in the months prior to his departure, Lewis would learn astronomy, botany,
navigation, medicine and biology, among other scientific disciplines. In
addition, Lewis spent his time accumulating all the supplies that the
expedition was going to need. He wrote list after list of provisions, which
included guns, ammunition, medical supplies and scientific instruments. While
still on the East Coast, Lewis accumulated almost two tons of goods using the
$2,500 Congress had allocated for the expedition.Here is what Lewis bought:
Mariner's Compas & 2 pole chain
Sett of plotting instruments
Cheap portable Microscope
brass Scale one foot in length
Magnetic needles in small straight silver or brass cases
opening on the side with hinges.
Instrument for measuring made of tape with feet &
inches mark'd on it,...
Sett of planespheres
papers of Ink powder
Metal Pens brass or silver
Set of Small Slates & pencils
Sealing wax one bundle
Miller's edition of Lineus in 2 Vol:
Pair large brass money scales with two setts of weights.
Arms & Accoutrements
Powder Horns & pouches complete
Pairs of Bullet Moulds
do. Of Wipers or Gun worms
Extra parts of Locks & tools for repairing arms
Lbs. Best rifle powder
3 pt. Blankets
Watch Coats with Hoods & belts
Rifle Frocks of waterproof Cloth if possible
Pairs of Socks or half Stockings
Fatigue Frocks or hinting shirts
Shirts of Strong linnen
yds. Common flannel.
Copper kettles (1 of 5 Gallons, 1 of 3, 2 of 2, & 2 of
Drawing Knives, short & strong
Augers of the patent kind.
Small permanent Vice
Steel plate hand saws
Vials of Phosforus
do. Of Phosforus made of allum & sugar
Groce fishing Hooks assorted
Bunches of Drum Line
Bunches of Small cord
Coils of rope
Bunches Small fishing line assorted
or Oil Stone
Iron Mill for Grinding Corn
yds. Oil linnen for wrapping & securing Articles
yds do. do. Of thicker quality for covering and lining
yds Do. Do. To form two half faced Tents or Shelters.
Tin blowing Trumpets
hand or spiral spring Steelyards
yds Strong Oznaburgs
Pint Tin Cups (without handles)
Steels for striking or making fire
for do. do. do.
Saddlers large Needles
Do. Large Awls
patent chamber lamps & wicks
Oil Cloth Bags for securing provision
Sea Grass Hammock
Provisions and Means of Subsistence
lbs. Portable Soup.
bushels of Allum or Rock Salt
Kegs of 5 Gallons each making 30 Gallons of rectified
pirits such as is used for the Indian trade
Kegs bound with iron Hoops
lbs. White Wampum
lbs. White Glass Beads mostly small
lbs. Red Do. Do. Assorted
lbs. Yellow or Orange
Do. Do. Assorted
Pieces of East India
muslin Hanckerchiefs striped or check'd with brilliant Colours.
Red Silk Hanckerchiefs
Small cheap looking Glasses
Vials of Phosforus
Steels for striking fire
Small cheap Scizors
Pair large Do.
Groces Needles Assorted No. 1 to 8 Common points
Groces Do. Assorted with points for sewing leather
Common brass thimbles - part W. office
lbs. Sewing Thread assorted
Hanks Sewing Silk
lbs. Red Lead
lbs. Vermillion - at War Office
Knives Small such as are generally used for the Indian
trade, with fix'd blades & handles inlaid with brass
Pipe Tomahawks - at H. Ferry
lbs. Brass wire Assorted
lbs. Iron do. Do. generally large
Belts of narrow Ribbons colours assorted
lbs. Spun Tobacco.
Small falling axes to be obtained in Tennessee
fish Griggs such as the Indians use with a single barbed
point - at Harper's ferry
Groce fishing Hooks assorted
Groce Mockerson awls assorted
lbs. Powder secured in a Keg covered with oil Cloth
Belts of Worsted feiret or Gartering Colours brilliant and
Sheets of Copper Cut into strips of an inch in width &
a foot long
Sheets of Tin
lbs. Strips of Sheet iron 1 In. wide 1 foot long
Pc. Red Cloth second quality
Nest of 8 or 9 small copper kettles
Block-tin rings cheap kind ornamented with Colour'd Glass
Groces of brass Curtain Rings & sufficently large for
Groce Cast Iron Combs
Cheap brass Combs
Arm Bands Silver at War Office
Wrist do. do. Do.
Ear Trinkets Do. Part do.
Groces Drops of Do. Part Do.
doz Rings for Fingers of do.
Groces Broaches of do.
Small Medals do.
Means of Transportation
Keeled Boat light strong at least 60 feet in length her
burthen equal to 8 Tons
Iron frame of Canoe 40 feet long
Large Wooden Canoe
Spikes for Setting-Poles
Boat Hooks & points Complete
Chains & Pad-Locks for confining the Boat & Canoes
lbs. Best powder's Bark
lbs. Epsom or Glauber Salts
oz. Tarter emetic
oz. Powder'd Ipecacuana
oz. Powder Jalap
oz. Powdered Rhubarb
oz. White Vitriol
oz. Lacteaum Saturni
Pewter Penis syringes
Flour of Sulphur
oz. Turlingtons Balsam
lbs. Yellow Bascilicum
Sticks of Symple Diachylon
lb. Blistering Ointments
Materials for making up the Various Articles into portable Packs
Sheep skins taken off the Animal as perfectly whole
aspossible, without being split on the belly as usual and dress'd only with
lime to free them from the wool; or otherwise about the same quantity of Oil
Cloth bags well painted
Raw hide for pack strings
Dress'd letter for Hoppus-Straps
List copied from: Jackson, Donald, ed., Letters
of the Lewis and Clark Expedition: with
Related Documents 1783 - 1854, University of Illinois
1978, pages 69-74.
Questions and activities for
1.In the days when travel was limited to the capabilities of boat, horse
and foot travel, what route would students have chosen to take through the
territory to reach the Pacific Ocean?Lewis and Clark traveled a total of 8,000
miles. How long would it take to travel that distance using these modes of
transportation? 2.Describe some of the hazards faced by the
Lewis and Clark expedition.
the journey on a U.S.
4.List some of the discoveries made on the
5.How did the expedition fulfill the charge
given by Thomas Jefferson?
6.When would they have made fast progress, and
when would they have slowed down?What is the relative and geographic location
of Philadelphia, PA, and its importance as the intellectual
center of the nation and a port for trade and commerce at the time of the
7.What were the purposes of Lewis's visit to Philadelphia in 1803 was
to procure supplies and equipment for the expedition and to learn information
from experts How was the American
Philosophical Society a leading source of information for Lewis?
National Archives, Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General.
and animals did they see?What did they
eat along the way?A couple of examples:
BUFFALO ~ BISON
2,000 pounds, six feet tall at the
Its spirit was praised before every hunt with a tribal ritual dance. The
buffalo supplied virtually everything that the Plain Indians needed to stay
alive; food, clothing, tools, and housing.
A. Brains - hide, preparation
B. Skull - ceremonies, sun
C. Horns - cups, fire carrier,
powderhorn, spoons, ladles, headdresses, signals, toys
you are Meriwether Lewis, and you're about to begin your journey into uncharted
land. Write a letter to your mother that describes what President Jefferson has
asked you to do. Explain why Americans must "get there first" and how
the observations and discoveries you make will impact the future of the
students write a letter from President Jefferson to Congress asking for
$2,500—the amount Jefferson requested—to fund
the expedition. The letter must convince Congress of the importance of the
mission to the U.S.
students complete an "Application for Employment" to participate in
the Lewis and Clark expedition. They should include special qualifications that
would make them suitable for the mission.
other countries with claims to western land have perceived the Lewis and Clark
expedition? From the perspective of a leader of another country, write a letter
to President Jefferson that explains why and how you think the expedition may
impact your country and your people.
students think about a place where no one has ever been. (You might get a
variety of answers, from the bottom of the ocean to another galaxy.) Ask them
what is known about these places. Are there preconceived ideas we have about
them? Is information available about these sites? Have we been able to see
these sites even if no one has visited them? How have we obtained information
about these places so far?
students to discuss what they would do to prepare for a journey to a location
where no one has ever been and/or for which there is limited information. Ask
whether myths about the place might dissuade them from visiting it or entice
them to explore.
that although people already lived in the region where Lewis and Clark visited,
to the European people who had settled the eastern United States, the American West
was a mysterious place. Invite students to discuss what Lewis and Clark must
have imagined about their journey - particularly the places they would visit -
before they embarked upon it.
segment of Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery in
which John Allen compares the journey of Lewis and Clark to Apollo 13’s journey
to the moon. Invite students to discuss any similarities and differences
between the two journeys. For example, Allen notes that Apollo 13 was able to
maintain contact with people on earth while it traveled through space. Lewis
and Clark were isolated, without the means to report their day-to-day
experiences with others.
students write and illustrate journal entries in the voice of expedition
members before they embark on their journey. The journal entry should discuss
what they expect to find, what they fear, what they will miss, and where they
plan to go. It can include, for example, sketches of the animals they might
see, the terrain they can expect to cross, etc.
students if they know what a compass is. If yes, ask whether they have ever
used one. Show students a compass (or several different models), explaining and
demonstrating how it functions and for what it is typically used. Explain that
the compass was perhaps the primary navigational tool Clark
used to map locations it visited.Or:Allow students to experiment
with the compass to locate a direction and then discuss the experience. Was the
compass helpful? What did they need to know in order to use the compass? Is a
compass always accurate?
Assign small groups specific aspects
of the expedition and related diary entries to explore. Groups could include
"specialists" in zoology (animals), botany (plants), meteorology (weather),
Native American cultures, and geology/geography. Each group is given or
searches online for the diary entries related to the assigned
"specialty."You can download
a list of the diary entries by category.This unit works very well when you have a few wildflower, insect, trees,
animal and other identification handbooks on hand for students to use as they
discover what the expedition members saw along the route.
A Fourth Set of Activities: Native American Encounters
Always a man of dichotomies, Jefferson
admired and lauded Native Americans as "noble savages" but he
believed that the Indian way of life could no longer exist in an expanding United States.. The only Indians he saw, as a boy, were
"civilized". They were romantic characters to the young lad when they
stopped at the Jefferson home on their way to Williamsburg. It was
during Jefferson's presidency that the basic decisions were made that required
the deportation of massive segments of the Indian population to land west of the
Mississippi..."the seeds of extinction" for Native American culture
were sown under
Explain to students that as they study details of the Corps of Discovery,
they should be aware that areas the travelers explored were already inhabited
by many different Native Americans tribes, who had established governments,
lifestyles, economic bases, and trading and territorial boundaries. The primary
group of Native Americans with whom the expedition interacted was the Lakota,
one of the Seven Council Fires of the Dakota Nation.While Lewis and Clark gave names to—and
recorded on maps--locations and landmarks, they were actually renaming sites
the Lakota had already claimed.
activity:Have students look up
important place names and people among the Native American groups: Sacagawea;Mandan;Shoshone;Nez Perce;consult maps to plot
where different groups of Native Americans were.
to pose:What would Native
Americans have experience when the expedition came West?Why were some friendly, and some
hostile?The Shoshone were very
friendly, but the Blackfeet were hostile.Why?Why would some welcome the
opportunity for trade and sharing resources, and others have responded with
Use:the Lewis and Clark expedition journals, for
colorful information about the responses of Native Americans.
Jefferson’s lifetime interest in Native
Americans can also be seen in his long term effort to collect and catalogue
Indian vocabularies. He worked on this extensively during his Presidency,
perhaps as way of relieving the stress of office. But, the office, also, gave
him new resources. On July 4,
1801, his first year as president, Jefferson
held a reception for five Cherokee chiefs where he queried them for his
vocabularies study. When he sent Lewis and Clark on their expedition of the LouisianaTerritory he tasked them to collect
linguistic records of all the tribes they encountered.
On one hand, Jefferson had ordered Lewis
and Clark to offer friendship, trade, education, and even to offer vaccination for
smallpox to the Indians.
On the other hand, as soon as Louisiana
was purchased, during his first term, he embarked on a cold-blooded policy
toward Native Americans. Jefferson, in a
lengthy letter to William Henry Harrison, military governor of the Northwest Territory, explained the nation's policy
"is to live in perpetual peace with the Indians, to cultivate their
affectionate attachment from them, by everything just and liberal which we can
do for them within the bounds of reason." Having said that, Jefferson then instructs Harrison
on how to get rid of every last independent tribe between the Atlantic states
and the Mississippi.
In secret messages to his cabinet and
Congress, Jefferson outlined a plan for removal of all Native Americans east of
the Mississippi to make sure that this land would never fall to the French or
was even less sentimental and more direct during his second inaugural address
in 1805. Even the area west of the Mississippi
would no longer be available to the Indian.
There were over 50
tribes along the Lewis and Clark trail whom the explorers met.
believe the Indian then to be in body and mind equal to the whiteman," Jefferson wrote to the Marquis de Chastellux. Only their
environment needed to be changed to make them fully American in Jefferson's mind. Even though many American Indians lived
in villages and many engaged in agriculture, hunting was often still necessary
for subsistence. It was this semi-nomadic way of life that led Jefferson and
others to consider Indians as "savages." Jefferson
believed that if American Indians were made to adopt European-style agriculture
and live in European-style towns and villages, then they would quickly
"progress" from "savagery" to "civilization" and
eventually be equal, in his mind, to white men. As President, Jefferson
would try to make these changes a reality. First, Jefferson
wanted to guarantee the security of the United States and so sought to bind
Indian nations to the United
States through treaties. The aim of these
treaties was to acquire land and facilitate trade, but most importantly to keep
them allied with the United
States and not with European powers, namely England in Canada and Spain in the
regions of Florida,
the GulfCoast and lands west of the Mississippi River.
Jefferson used the networks created by the
treaties to further the program of gradual "civilization." His
Federalists predecessors had begun this program, but it was completely in
keeping with Jefferson's Enlightenment
thinking. Through treaties and commerce, Jefferson
hoped to continue to get Native Americans to adopt European agricultural
practices, shift to a sedentary way of life, and free up hunting grounds for
further white settlement. The desire for
land raised the stakes of the "civilization program." Jefferson told his agents never to coerce Indian nations
to sell lands. The lands were theirs as long as they wished, but he hoped to
accelerate the process. The "civilization program" would thus aid the
Indians in accordance with Enlightenment principles and at the same time
further white interests.
Indian peoples were divided as to how to respond to Jefferson's
policies. The Shawnee
chief Black Hoof embraced the "civilization program," and he and many
within the state of Ohio
and lived as farmers, while the Shawnee
war leader Tecumseh took a different course and led the formation of a
pan-Indian resistance movement against the United States government in the
years prior to the War of 1812. Some of the Indian nations in the South also
accepted the "civilization program" and eventually became known as
the "Five Civilized Tribes." Many in the Creek and Cherokee nations
built towns and plantations, and some individuals held African American slaves
just as their white neighbors. Yet many southern Indians remained skeptical of
"civilization" and joined Tecumseh's movement. Among the Creeks, a
distinct anti-white resistance movement called the Red Sticks rose against the United States
and the Creek nation itself during the War of 1812.
well-known as the Indian woman who led Lewis and Clark on their famous
expedition to find the Pacific Ocean. The
truth is a bit different from the movie and children's book versions, however.
In fact, Sacajawea was not officially a member of the expedition party. Her
husband, Toussaint Charbonneau, was hired as an interpreter and took Sacajawea
along. She was allowed to join the party as an unofficial member because the
captains thought she would be useful to help in communicating with some of the
Indian tribes they met and also in obtaining horses from her native tribe, the
Sacajawea was born about 1790 in what is now the state of Idaho. She was one of
the "Snake People," otherwise known as the Shoshone. Her name in
Hidatsa was Tsi-ki-ka-wi-as, "Bird Woman. In Shoshone, her name means
"Boat Pusher." She was stolen during a raid by a Hidatsa tribe when
she was a young girl and taken to their village near what is now Bismark, N.
Dakota. Some time afterward the French-Canadian trapper and fur trader,
Charbonneau bought Sacajawea and her companion, Otter Woman, as wives. When her
husband joined the expedition at FortMandan in the Dakotas, Sacajawea was about 16 years old and pregnant.
The expedition spent the winter at Fort Mandan and
Sacajawea's baby, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, was born on Feb. 11 or 12, 1805.
He was also given the Shoshone name, Pomp, meaning First Born. The expedition resumed the westward trek on April 7, 1805. Their route
was along the Missouri River, west to the
mountains. On May 14, 1805
an incident occurred which was typical of the calmness and self-possession
Sacajawea was to display throughout the journey. The incident was recorded in
the diaries because of it's significance to the success of the
expedition. On that day, the boat Sacajawea was in was hit by a sudden storm
squall. It keeled over on it's side and nearly capsized. As the other members
of the crew worked desperately to right the boat, Sacajawea, with her baby
strapped to her back, busied herself with retrieving the valuable books and
instruments that floated out of the boat. They had been wrapped in waterproof
packages for protection and, thanks to Sacajawea's courage and quick actions,
suffered no damage.
Contrary to popular opinion, Sacajawea did not serve as a
guide for the party. She only influenced the direction taken by the expedition
one time, after reaching the area where her people hunted she indicated they
should take a tributary of the BeaverheadRiver to get to the
mountains where her people lived and where Lewis and Clark hoped to buy horses.
15, 1805 Sacajawea was re-united with her tribe, only to learn that
all her family had died, with the exception of two brothers and the son of her
oldest sister, whom she adopted. One of her brothers, Cameahwait, was head
chief of the Shoshone. The Shoshone chief agreed to sell the party the horses
they needed for the trek through the mountains. He also sketched a map of the
country to the west and provided a guide, Old Toby, who took them through the
mountains and safely to the Nez Perce country. where they resumed river travel.
Throughout the expedition, Sacajawea maintained a helpful,
uncomplaining attitude of cheefulness in the face of hardship. This was so remarkable
that it was commented on by all the men who kept diaries. There is one record
of her complaining, however. While wintering on the Columbia River before
starting their journey back to the east, nearby Indians reported that a whale
had washed up on the beach about 35 miles from the fort. Sacajawea said that
she had traveled a long way to see the great waters and, now that a monstrous
fish was also to be seen, she thought it "very hard" that she could
not be permitted to see it, and the ocean too. Captain Clark took a party of
two canoes, including Sacajawea and her husband, to find the whale and possibly
obtain some blubber. By the time they arrived there was nothing left but the
skeleton, but they were able to buy about 35 pounds of blubber.
After the expedition was over in the summer of 1806,
Sacajawea, her husband and son remained at FortMandan
where Lewis and Clark had found them. In August 1806, Captain Clark wrote to
Charbonneau and invited him to come to St.
Louis and bring his family, or to send Jean Baptiste
to Clark for schooling.Charbonneau and Sacajawea accepted the offer
and lived near St. Louis
for a time. In March 1811, however, Charbonneau sold his land back to Clark and returned to the Dakotas
with Sacajawea. Their son remained in St.
Louis in the care of Cpt. Clark, who was the Indian
Agent of the Louisiana Purchase at that time.
What became of Sacajawea after leaving St. Louis? There are two widely varying
stories, with no proof of either. The first is that she died on Dec. 20, 1812. This
information came from the records of John C. Luttig, the clerk at Ft. Manuel, SD
who wrote: "This evening the wife of Charbonneau, a Snake squaw, died of a
putrid fever. She was a good and the best woman in the fort, aged about 25
years. She left a fine infant girl." It is a fact that, in March 1813,
John Luttig returned to St. Louis
with a baby whom he called "Sacajawea's Lizette." In August 1813, he
applied to be her guardian, as well as that of a boy called
"Toussaint," but the court record shows his name crossed out and Cpt.
William Clark's written in. Jean Baptiste Charbonneau was often called
Toussaint. John Luttig died in 1815.
Shoshone oral tradition says that Sacajawea did not die in
1813, but instead, wandered the west for a few years and eventually returned to
her tribe on the Wind River Reservation. Tradition says she died there on April 9, 1884, a venerated
and influential member of the tribe, and is buried between her son, Jean
Baptiste, and her sister's son, Bazil, whom she adopted. There is a monument
over the grave on the Wind River Reservation, of the woman called Sacajawea.
Many people who were living at the time wrote and told that it was she who
traveled with Lewis and Clark to the great water and that the woman who died at
FortManuel was another wife of Toussaint
Charbonneau. There is no record of what
became of Lizette. There is a baptismal record in Westport, MO
for Victoire, daughter of Joseph Vertifeuille and Elizabeth Carboneau. It is
not known if this was Lizette Charbonneau, Sacajawea's daughter or not.
Interior of a Chinook
House along the trail:
One of the games of amusement and risk of the western Indians
consists in hiding in the hand some small article about the size of a bean.
This they throw from one hand to the other with great dexterity accompanying
their operations with a particular song which seems to have been adapted to the
game. When the individual who holds the piece has amused himself sufficiently
by exchanging it from one hand to the other, he holds out his hands for his
competitors to guess which hand contains the piece. If they hit on the hand
which contains the piece they win the wager; otherwise they lose. The
individual who holds the piece is a kind of banker and plays for the time being
against all the others in the room. When he has lost all the property which he
has to venture, or thinks proper at any time, he transfers the piece to some
other who then also becomes banker.
From:Stewart Cullin, Games of the
North American Indians: Volume 1, Games of Chance (Lincoln: University of
Nebraska Press, 1992).
Bead money, also used as jewelry in northern tribes:
Additional sources to use:
-- full text of the Lewis and Clark expedition journals and a lot of ancillary
material, including images of expedition people and numerous Native American
village sites and homes, as well images of animals and plants from journey.