October 3, 1778 | Statute An act for establishing the county of Illinois, and for the more effectual protection and defense thereof. This act recognized the successful effort by George Rogers Clark and his expedition to secure the western side of the Ohio for Virginia. The commonwealth incorporated the existing inhabitants into the commonwealth through oaths of fidelity and then extended institutions of governance by establishing the county of Illinois. The act provided for election of civil officials and the raising of a five hundred man force for the defense of the county.
January 24, 1780 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Martin, January 24, 1780 Thomas Jefferson instructs Joseph Martin, agent to the Cherokee, to purchase or trade for land for Fort Jefferson, currently being plotted by George Rogers Clark.
January 29, 1780 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to George Rogers Clark, January 29, 1780 Thomas Jefferson issues instructions for the construction of a fort on the Falls of the Ohio, offering the services of surveyors Thomas Walker and Daniel Smith, who are in the field plotting a line between North Carolina and Virginia. Addressing the need to defend the western frontier from British advances, Jefferson authorizes Clark's recruitment of a battalion of soldiers, with land warrants issued as payment. Jefferson also expresses concern over the establishment of peaceful relations with French settlers and Native groups already in the region.
April 19, 1780 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to George Rogers Clark, April 19, 1780 Thomas Jefferson writes to George Rogers Clark with concerns about the planned fortifications at the mouth of the Ohio River.
February 11, 1784 | Letter Thomas Hutchins to Thomas Jefferson, February 11, 1784 Thomas Hutchins responds to Thomas Jefferson's January 24, 1784 note questioning calculations made in one of Hutchins' pamphlets, "A Topographical Description of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and North Carolina, Comprehending the Rivers Ohio, Kenhawa, Sioto, Cherokee, Wabash, Illinois, Mississippi, &c...With a Plan of the Rapids of the Ohio, A Plan of the Several Villages in the Illinois Country, a Table of the Distances Between Fort Pitt and the Mouth of the Ohio."
August 2, 1790 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to William Carmichael, August 2, 1790 The importance of the Mississippi River to American growth and economic success is uppermost in Jefferson's mind as Spain and England seem on the brink of war.
August 27, 1790 | Report George Washington to Thomas Jefferson, August 27, 1790 George Washington asks for Thomas Jefferson's opinions on a variety of security concerns on the United States' western borders, particularly given the threat of British/Spanish hostilities. Jefferson answered on August 28, 1790.
March 18, 1792 | Report Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, March 18, 1792 A detailed examination of the current and future prospect for western expansion and the legal and political ramifications of such movement.
June 30, 1793 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to William Carmichael and William Short, June 30, 1793 Thomas Jefferson writes to William Carmichael and William Short, the United States' commissioners in Spain, addressing ongoing tensions with Spain. Spanish authorities viewed American settlements in the West with great suspicion and accused the United States of encouraging Native groups to violence. Jefferson addresses both the accusations and the United States' policies towards the Chickasaw and Creek Nations.
November 12, 1799 | Letter Daniel Clark to Thomas Jefferson, November 12, 1799 Daniel Clark writes of Philip Nolan's close brush with death in New Mexico and informs Jefferson of Nolan's plan to travel to the United States. Clarks takes the liberty of sending along a box of pecans for Jefferson.
May 29, 1800 | Letter Daniel Clark to Thomas Jefferson, May 29, 1800 Daniel Clark writes to Jefferson of Philip Nolan's departure for the United States, and notes that an inhabitant of the land "West of the Mississippi" accompanies him for Jefferson's edification, so that he may be "the first to acquire particular information of a Country now almost unknown to the U.S."
July 13, 1801 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to William C. C. Claiborne, July 13, 1801 Thomas Jefferson writes to William Claiborne with news of his appointment as Governor of Mississippi, noting the importance of the region as "the principal point of contact between Spain and us, & also as it is the embryo of a very great state." Jefferson also warns Claiborne of the importance of encouraging the residents of Mississippi to embrace party politics similar to his.
August 22, 1801 | Report William Dunbar to the American Philosophical Society, via Thomas Jefferson, read December 18, 1801. This report, with several other missives and reports written by Dunbar, were forwarded by Jefferson to the American Philosphical Society, where they were read before the Society and later published in theTransactions of the Philosophical Society of Americain 1804. Dunbar's detailed descriptions of the weather and growing conditions in Lousiana were sure to interest Jefferson.
April 18, 1802 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to Robert Livingston, April 18, 1802 Thomas Jefferson sends a cipher to Robert Livingston, as well as his musings on the cession of Louisiana.
March 3, 1803 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to William Dunbar, March 3, 1803 After thanking William Dunbar for earlier correspondence, including Martin Duralde's report to the American Philosophical Society, Thomas Jefferson expresses hopes that American rights to the Mississippi River can be maintained without war; the President also anticipates the acquisition of Native lands on the left bank of the river to "plant on the Missisipi itself the means of it's own defence."
April 22, 1803 | Letter From Thomas Jefferson to Lewis Harvie, April 22, 1803 Thomas Jefferson writes to Lewis Harvie, informing him of Meriwether Lewis' progress in preparing for his expedition. Jefferson also reassures Harvie that questions between Spain and France over the Louisiana Territory will not interfere with the United States' acquisition of the region.
July 17, 1803 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to William Dunbar, July 17, 1803 Thomas Jefferson writes to William Dunbar of the acquisition of Louisiana Territory, asking for information and statistics to place before the Congress.
August 9, 1803 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to John Dickinson, August 9, 1803 Thomas Jefferson expresses his pleasure at the Louisiana Purchase, and explains the importance of the territory as a buffer against Spanish expansion.
September 21, 1803 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to William Dunbar, September 21, 1803 Thomas Jefferson questions William Dunbar about Spanish borders in the Louisiana Territory.
November 16, 1803 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to Meriwether Lewis, November 16, 1803 Thomas Jefferson updates Meriwether Lewis on political activity around the event of the Louisiana Purchase. Jefferson includes notes from the explorer Truteau that detail population and activities of some native groups living west of the Mississippi.
January 22, 1804 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to Meriwether Lewis, January 22, 1804 Thomas Jefferson informs Meriwether Lewis of the steps the United States is taking to consolidate its position in the land along the Mississippi.
March 13, 1804 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to William Dunbar, March 13, 1804 Thomas Jefferson thanks William Dunbar for his letter of January 28, promising to forward his paper on the Mississippi River to the American Philosophical Society. Jefferson then writes a detailed discussion of the science of water in a river like the Mississippi. Jefferson also relates his plans for directing surveying parties to the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, in addition to explorations of the Red and other more southern waterways. Jefferson concludes with speculations on the future of the Lousiana Territory.
April 6, 1804 | Report William Dunbar to the American Philosophical Society, via Thomas Jefferson, read April 6, 1804. The Mississippi River, its delta, and the surrounding region receive detailed attention from William Dunbar in this report forwarded to the APS by Thomas Jefferson.