Envisaging the West: Thomas Jefferson and the Roots of Lewis and Clark



Monroe, James

Virginia's delegates cede western counties to the nation. The wrangling between Virginia, Maryland, and other "landed" states and the Congress over the use and distribution of western territory was a long and contentious process. With this document, Virginia's delegates cede land northwest of the Ohio River to the nation.

Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, July 11, 1790 Thomas Jefferson writes to James Monroe about paying the public debt and Congress' willingness to do so. Jefferson believes establishing the nation's credit is critical to showing its ability to go to war should England and Spain do so. Jefferson hopes to avoid conflict: "Our object is to feed & theirs to fight." Jefferson worries that English and Spanish designs on North America would leave the United States surrounded by potential aggressors.

Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Pinckney, May 29, 1797 Tensions in Congress draw Thomas Jefferson's attention, as does Spain's cession of territory to France. Thomas Jefferson discusses political and diplomatic affairs, concerned over tensions with England and Spain. Additional worries about hostilities along the western borders occupy his thoughts.

Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, May 26, 1801 Thomas Jefferson writes to James Monroe of business dealings and then mentions his fear that Spain would cede Louisiana and the Floridas to the French.

Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, November 24, 1801 Thomas Jefferson wonders about the possible use of Western territory for slaves or free blacks in the aftermath of Gabriel's Rebellion. He is concerned about the possible repercussions for domestic and international relations if they are sent west or remain on the continent; St. Domingo seems a good possible destination.

Bernard Lacépède to Thomas Jefferson, May 13, 1803 Bernard Lacépède applauds Jefferson's dedication to exploration and expansion, predicting success and the expansion of United States trade and communication because of it.