1683 | Book Hennepin, Louis. Description de la Louisiane, Nouvellement Decouverte au Sud'Oüest de la Nouvelle France, par Ordre du Roy. Paris: Chez la veuve Sebastien Huré, 1683. While serving with the LaSalle expedition, Father Louis Hennepin moved into country west of the Mississippi River and determined the Missouri River led to the Rocky Mountains. From the Rockies, Hennepin surmised, another navigable river made it easy passage to the Pacific Ocean. Hennepin's descriptions influenced several generations of scholars and explorers, including Jefferson. This French edition of Hennepin's work is available at canadiana.org or as part of Yale University's Western Americana: Frontier History of the Trans-Mississippi West microfilm series; an 1880 English reprint is available as part of the Western Americana microfilm series.
1697 | Book Hennepin, Louis. Nouvelle Decouverte d'un tres grand Pays situé dans l'Amerique, entre le Nouveau Mexique, et la Mer Glaciale, avec les Cartes, & les Figures necessaries, & de plus l'Histoire Naturalle & Morale, & les avantages, qu'on en peut tirer par l'établissement des colonies: le tout dédié a Sa Majesté Britannique Guillame III.. Utrecht: Chez Guillame Broedelet, 1697. Many editions of Nouvelle Decouverteinclude versions of LaSalle's maps of North America, several of which depict the Rio Grande and the Missouri River springing from the same source in the Rocky Mountains, a geographic assumption that became common in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (Allen, Lewis and Clark and the Image of the American Northwest, 9). This French edition of Hennepin's work is available at canadiana.org or as part of Yale University's Western Americana: Frontier History of the Trans-Mississippi West microfilm series; a 1698 English translation is online at Gale Group's Early English Books site and at americanjourneys.org.
1698 | Map Louis Hennepin. A Map of a Large Country Newly Discovered in the Northern America situated between New Mexico and the Frozen Sea, 1698 Images prepared 2002–2005 and used courtesy of the Albert H. and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia.
1698 | Book Hennepin, Louis. Nouveau Voyage d'un Pais plus grand que l'Europe avec les reflections des enterprises du Sieur de la Salle, sure les Mines de St. Barbe, &c. enrichi de la carte, de figures expressives, des moeurs & manières de vivre des sauvages du nord & du sud, de la prise de Québec, ville capitalle de la Nouvelle France, par les Anglois, & des avantages qu'on peut retirer du chemin recourci de la Chine & du Japon, par le moien de tant de vaste contré es, & de nouvelles colonies: avec approbation & dédié à Sa Majesté, Guillaume III, roy de la Grande Bretagne.Utrecht: Chez Antoine Schouten, 1698. Another of Hennepin's influential works, Jefferson used this book while preparing his 1804 description of the Louisiana territory (Jackson, Thomas Jefferson & the Rocky Mountains, 89). See Hennepin's 1698 map in the archive. This French edition of Hennepin's work is available at canadiana.org or as part of Yale University's Western Americana: Frontier History of the Trans-Mississippi West microfilm series.
1705 | Book de Lahontan, Baron Louis Armand de Lom d'Arce. Voyages du Baron de La Hontan dans l'Amerique Septentrionale, qui contiennent une Rélation des différens Peuples qui y habitent; la nature de leur maniére de faire la Guerre: l'Intérêt des François & Anglois dans le Commerce qui'ils font avec ces NationsAmsterdam: François L'Honoré, 1705. Baron de Lahontan's works, which went through several English and French editions, helped spread the idea of a "Long River" that extended from the Mississippi into the Rocky Mountains near the headwaters of another river which ran into the Pacific. French editions of this work are available at canadiana.org and several English versions can be found at the Gale Group's Early English Books Online site.
1718 | Map Guillaume Delisle. Carte de la Louisiana et du Cours du Mississipi, 1718 Images prepared 2002–2005 and used courtesy of the Albert H. and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia.
1722 | Map Daniel Coxe. A Map of Carolana and of the River Meschacebe, 1722 Images prepared 2002–2005 and used courtesy of the Albert H. and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia.
1733 | Map Henry Popple. A Map of the British Empire in America with the French and Spanish Settlements adjacent thereto, 1733 Images copyright 2000 by Cartography Associates.
1738 | Book Keith, William. History of the British Plantations in America. London: printed at the expence of the Society for the Encouragement of Learning, by S. Richardson; and sold by A. Millar, J. Nourse, and J. Gray, 1738. In 1771, Jefferson recommended this book and William Stith's History of the First Discovery and Settlement of Virginiato Robert Skipwith as part of a library suitable for a "common reader." History of the British Plantations in Americais available at the Gale Group's Eighteenth Century Collections Online.
1741 | Book Coxe, Daniel. A Description of the English Province of Carolana. By the Spaniards call'd Florida, and the French, La Louisiane. To which is added a large and accurate map of Carolana, and of the river Meschacebe. London: Olive Payne, 1741. The idea of "symmetrical geography" was supported in Coxe's work, in which he asserted that interlocking river systems in the West, similar to those in the East, meant easy passage by water from the Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean. See Coxe's 1722 map in the archive. Several editions of A Description of the English Province of Carolanaare available at the Gale Group's Early English Books Online site.
1744 | Book Charlevoix, Pierre François Xavier de. Histoire et Description Generale de la Nouvelle France, avec le Journal Historique d'un Voyage fait par ordre du Roi dans l'Amérique Septentrionnale. Paris: Chez Rollin Fils, 1744. Basing his assumptions on interviews with traders and Native peoples, Charlevoix endorsed the idea that from the Missouri explorers would have access to another navigable river leading to the Pacific Ocean. Charlevoix also supported the idea of "height-of-land:" rivers like the Mississippi and Missouri flowed to the cardinal directions from one point on the continent. The 1744 French text is available at Early Canadiana Online; a 1761 English edition is on the Gale Group's Eighteenth Century Collections Oline website.
July 2, 1744 | Treaty Treaty of Lancaster Leaders of the Six Nations sign a treaty ceding territory in the colony of Virginia to King George II. Rather than including the entire body of the treaty, the text on this site has been limited to those decisions which affected Virginia's boundaries
1747 | Book Stith, William. History of the First Discovery and Settlement of Virginia. Williamsburg: William Parks, 1747. In 1771, Jefferson recommended this book and William Keith's History of the British Plantations in Americato Robert Skipwith as part of a library suitable for a "common reader." History of the First Discovery and Settlement of Virginiais available on Google Books and at the Gale Group's Eighteenth Century Collections Online.
1750 | Map Robert Sayer. A new map of North America, with the British, French, Spanish, Dutch & Danish dominions on that great continent; and the West India Islands, 1750? Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.
March 7, 1750–July 13, 1750 | Journal Thomas Walker's Journal (1750) In March 1750 (1749 under the Julian Calendar), Thomas Walker and several companions set off through western Virginia into modern-day Kentucky. His journal documents some of the earliest Euro-American impressions of the Cumberland region.
1751 | Map Joshua Fry-Peter Jefferson. A map of the most Inhabited part of Virginia containing the whole Province of Maryland with Part of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and North Carolina, 1751 (rev. ed. 1755) Albert H. and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia
February 27, 1752 | Statute An Act for encouraging persons to settle on the waters of the Mississippi. Justified as a "means of cultivating a good correspondence with the neighbouring Indians," the provisions of this act encouraged "natural born subjects" and "foreign protestants" to settle along the waters of the Mississippi. Settlements possessed security value since they served as a means of projecting the colony's strength along the frontier. The act exempted settlers on the western slope of the Appalachian Mountains from payment of all public levies for ten years.
April 28, 1752 | Treaty Instructions for the Treaty of Logstown Instructions given Christopher Gist, Gentleman, by the Ohio company, April 28, 1752. Christopher Gist served as representative for the Ohio Company of Associates at the Logstown treaty meeting in the colony of Pennsylvania held in May 1752. Gist's instructions directed him to inform the several tribes of Indians expected at the meeting, including the Six Nations, the extensive grant of land on the Ohio to the Ohio Company for establishing colonial settlements and increase of trade in the region. The point of the meeting was to create a stable frontier environment for extension of commerce and settlement along the Ohio. For Gist's part, he was to emphasize the benefits to the Indians of expanded trade and increased white settlement.
June 13, 1752 | Treaty The Treaty of Logstown Joshua Fry, Lunsford Lomax, and James Patton journeyed to Logstown on the Ohio River to treat with the Indians of the Six Nations. After a delay of nearly a week in which the commissioners waited for the arrival of a leading Sachem of the Six Nations, Thonariss -- called Half King by the English -- the assembly began its discussions. The wide-ranging dialogue covered the topics outlined in their instructions from Lt. Governor Dinwiddie. In the end, the Sachems of the Six Nations recognized the British land claims established by the 1744 Treaty of Lancaster. The exchanges included in this excerpt of the treaty negotiations provide insight into the complex relationship between British, Indian, and French interests in the Ohio Valley.
1754 | Map Thomas and Emanuel Bowen. A Map of the British American plantations: extending from Boston in New England to Georgia; including all the back settlements in the respective provinces, as far as the Mississippi, 1754 (reprinted 1763, 1775) The Filson Historical Society.
February 14, 1754 | Statute An Act for encouraging persons to settle on the waters of the Mississippi. Demonstrating commitment to western settlement, the Virginia Assembly sets levies and duties to offset the costs of protecting the western edges of Augusta County from the depredations of the French and their Native American allies.
February 19, 1754 | Statute Proclimation [sic] of 1754 In response to the perceived threat of French incursions into the Ohio valley, Governor Dinwiddie issued this proclamation offering bounty lands to "all who should voluntarily enter into ... service" for the establishment of a fort on the Ohio where it met the Mohongahela. The bounty lands included two hundred thousand acres near the fort and along the river. Each enlistee would receive land "in a proportion due to their respective merit."
1755 | Map Lewis Evans. A general map of the middle British colonies, in America, 1755 Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.
1755 | Map John Mitchell. A map of the British and French dominions in North America, with the roads, distances, limits, and extent of the settlements, 1755 Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.
1755 | Map John Mitchell. A map of the British and French dominions in North America, with the roads, distances, limits, and extent of the settlements, 1755 (1st impression of first ed.) Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.
1755 | Map Gilles Robert de Vaugondy. Partie de l'Amérique septentrionale, qui comprend le cours de l'Ohio, la Nlle. Angleterre, la Nlle York, le New Jersey, la Pensylvanie, le Maryland, la Virginie, la Caroline, 1755 Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.
January 1, 1755 | Treaty Instructions for Peter Randolph and William Byrd to treat with the Catawbas and Cherokees on behalf of the colony of Virginia. In the early stages of the war with France in North American Lt. Governor Robert Dinwiddie sent William Byrd and Peter Randolph to treat with the Cherokee and Catawba Indians to pursue an alliance with them against the French. Dinwiddie instructed the two representatives to expound the "Grandeur and Munificence" of George II and vilify France's "restless . . . thirst of Dominion" in America. He also directed his emissaries to warn the Cherokee and Catawbas against being deceived by French efforts to turn them against the English. Dinwiddie expressed a particular interest in determining if other Indian tribes might be brought into alliance with the English.
May 28, 1755 | Statute An act for the encouragement and protection of the settlers upon the waters of the Mississippi, particularly in relation to taxation and duties. This law deals mainly with taxation but also continues a previous act for the encouragement of settlements "upon the waters of the Mississippi." That act limited the tax liablility of settlers along the Mississippi in order to speed settlement of that part of Albemarle county that extended farther west.
August 29, 1755 | Statute An act preventing and repelling the hostile incursions of the Indians, at enmity with the inhabitants of this colony. The law addresses ongoing violence between Virginians and native groups "supposed to be in the interest of the French." Bounty is offered to Virginians for the capture and killing of any enemy male over the age of twelve. To safeguard relationships with allies, the Assembly decrees that anyone who "knowingly and wilfully" kills any Native male "in alliance, peace and friendship with his majesty and his subjects in this colony" will be prosecuted as a felon.
October 29, 1755 | Statute An act for preventing and repelling the hostile incursions of the Indians, at enmity with the inhabitants of this colony. The law of August 29, 1755, which offered bounty for the "killing or destruction" of French-allied Native American males is expanded to offer like rewards to Virginia's Native American allies.
April 30, 1757 | Statute An Act for the more effectual preventing and repelling the hostile incursions of the Indians at enmity with the inhabitants of this colony. Further suggestions for the suppression of Native American violence through the offer of bounties. In order to maintain peaceful relationships with Indian allies, Virginians who kill or seize allied Native Americans will be prosecuted as felons.
November 12, 1758 | Statute An Act, to encourage Settlements on the Southern Boundary of this Colony. Virginia's colonial government exempted from taxation for ten years those who settled "upon Roanoke river" above the mouth of "little Roanoke, otherwise called Licking Hole." The exemption lasted ten years.
1763 | Map Antoine-Simon Le Page du Pratz. A map of Louisiana, with the course of the Missisipi, and the adjacent rivers, the nations of the natives, the French establishments and the mines, 1763 Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.
1763 | Book Le Page du Pratz. The History of Louisiana, or of the West Parts of Virginia and Carolina: containing a Description of the Countries that lye on both sides of the River Mississippi: with an Account of the Settlements, Inhabitants, Soil, Climate, and Products. London: T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, 1763. Le Page du Pratz supported the idea of a water passage to the Pacific that would be interrupted only by short portages. See the interactive maps for Du Pratz' conception of North America. Lewis borrowed a copy of The History of Louisianafrom Benjamin Smith Barton and carried it across the continent. The 1763 English edition is online at Eighteen Century Collections Online or through Yale University's Western Americana microfilm series; a French edition is also available from the Yale Western Americana microfilm collection.
October 7, 1763 | Treaty Proclamation of 1763. In the aftermath of the French and Indian War, the British crown issued this proclamation, which severely limited colonists' access to land west of an imaginary line running down the crest of the Appalachain Mountains. With this attempt to reorganize British control in North America and maintain orderly relations with Native peoples, George III further alienated colonists who saw western expansion as an inevitable process. Many provisions in the Proclamation remained intact until 1776, although incursions by colonists into land west of the Proclamation Line were common.
1765 | Book Rogers, Robert. A Concise Account of North America: containing a Description of the several British Colonies on that Continent, including the Islands of Newfoundland, Cape Breton, &c.. London: J. Millan, 1765. Rogers wrote of the "Ouragan" river and the "height-of-land" concept. Jefferson included this work on a list of recommended books for a national library that he prepared for Congress in 1783. An electronic version of A Concise Account of North Americais available at Gale Group's Eighteenth Century Collections Online.
October 5, 1765 | Statute An act for establishing a trade with the Indian allies of his majesty, and to amend another act directing the trustees of the Indian Factory of Virginia. In an effort to regulate and control trade with Cherokee allies, conditions for trade are laid out in detail. The trustees of the Indian Factory are instructed to limit the types of goods sold and the manner in which they deal with established allies and new consumers.
November 7, 1766 | Statute An act for opening a road through the frontiers of this colony to Fort Pitt on the Ohio. For improving commerce with the Indians of the Ohio valley and to facilitate supplying British garrisons along the frontier, the General Assembly authorized Thomas Walker and other gentlemen to "lay out" and "direct" the clearing of a road from the north branch of the Potomac River to Fort Pitt. The act mandated that the road run near Braddock Road.
October 14, 1768 | Treaty Treaty of Hard Labor Created subsequent to the Treaty of Fort Stanwix, clarifying the newly agreed to boundary line required additional treating with the Cherokee in the south. The meeting took place at Hard Labor, South Carolina where the participants recognized the cession of certain lands of the Cherokee to the colonies of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. According to the terms, the king's "white subjects" would be bound by the agreement not to move into the lands designated as belonging to the Cherokee, and the Cherokee were similarly constrained from settling on land acknowledged as belonging to the English colonies. This document described in detail the boundary and also recognized arrangements constructed in earlier agreements, specifically the Treaty of Augusta [Georgia] of 1763. Encroachments by settlers and retaliatory acts of violence conducted by Indians inflamed the frontier and necessitated further boundary negotiations.
November 5, 1768 | Treaty Treaty of Fort Stanwix After expressing their "apprehension" regarding the failure of colonists to strictly observe the 1765 boundary line between Indian Territory and the British colonies, continued negotiations produced this treaty. It describes in detail the line between the Six Nations, tribes of the Ohio, various dependent tribes, and the thirteen seaboard colonies. The agreement effectively closed off legitimate settlement of the Ohio Valley. However, it was ignored by many colonists who migrated west and squatted illegally on Indian lands. The inability of colonial authorities to effectively prevent these illegal settlements west of the boundary aggravated the situation between the various tribes of the region and white settlers along the frontier.
December 16, 1768 | Treaty Objections to the Treaty of Hard Labor Commissioners from Virginia object to the boundary line established with the Treaty of Hard Labor and vow to pursue the matter.
November 10, 1769 | Statute An act for appointing Commissioners to meet with Commissioners, who are or may be appointed by the Legislatures of the Neighbouring Colonies, to form and agree upon a general plan for regulation of the Indian trade. With regulation of Indian trade given over to the colonies, Virginia appoints her commissioners.
November 10, 1769 | Statute An act for the better support of the contingent charges of government. Section 1 of this law committed 2,000 pounds sterling for surveying the boundary between Virginia and Cherokee territory.
1770 | Map John Henry. A new and accurate map of Virginia wherein most of the counties are laid down from actual surveys, 1770 Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.
October 18, 1770 | Treaty Treaty of Lochaber Continued consternation over the exact location of boundary between the Cherokee nation and Virginia led to this 1770 settlement of the line. At issue was a contested swath of land that had been ceded to the Indians at Hard Labor. The new agreement adjusted the border to give lands east of a line running from the Holston River to the convergence of the Great Canaway (Great Kanawha) and Ohio Rivers to the British province of Virginia.
1771 | Book Catesby, Mark. The Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands containing the figures of birds, beasts, fishes, serpents, insects, and plants: ... with their descriptions in English and French. To which is prefixed, a new and correct map of the countries; with observations on their natural state, inhabitants, and productions. London: Benjamin White, 1771. Mark Catesby's massive work on the flora and fauna of North America's southeastern coast and the Bahamas was one of the msot comprehensive catalogs of the birds of the region. Jefferson used the work in Notes on the State of Virginia and Catesby was viewed as one of the primary naturalists of his day. The Natural History...is at Gale Group's Eighteenth Century Collections Online or as part of Yale University's Western Americana microfilm series; an earlier edition is available through University Microfilm's American Culture series.
February 12, 1772 | Statute An act for dividing the county of Botetourt into two distinct counties. Petitioned by an ever growing number of settlers in Botetourt County, the General Assembly agreed to the creation of a the county of Fincastle for the more convenient establishment of local governmental institutions for settlers beyond Blue Ridge. The act describes the boundaries of Fincastle, establishes the responsibilities of the county court and local justices of the peace.
1773 | Map John Ballendine. A Map of Potomak and James Rivers in North America Shewing their several Communications with the Navigable Waters of the New Province on the River Ohio,1773 Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.
1775 | Book Adair, James. The History of the American Indians; particularly those Nations adjoining to the Mississippi, East and West Florida, Georgia, South and North Carolina, and Virginia containing an account of their origin, language, manners, religious and civil customs, laws, forms of government, punishments, conduct in war and domestic life, their habits, diet, agriculture, manufactures, diseases and method of cure...London: Edward and Charles Dilly, 1775. An English trader, James Adair collected native vocabularies and made ethnographic observations in the eighteenth-century tradition that stressed the "primitivism" and inevitable decline of native peoples. In The History of the American Indians, Adair presented his evidence that indigenous Americans were descendants of the tribes of Israel. This work is available as part of University Microfilm's American Culture Series, or at Eighteenth Century Collections Online.
1776 | Map Robert Sayer and John Bennett. A General Map of the Middle British Colonies, in America. containing Virginia, Maryland, the Delaware Counties, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, 1776 Images copyright 2000 by Cartography Associates.
1776 | Map Thomas Pownall. A map of the middle British colonies in North America. First published by Lewis Evans, of Philadelphia, in 1755 Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.
August 26, 1776 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to Edmund Pendleton, August 26, 1776 Thomas Jefferson writes to Pendleton of his hopes for the new nation and practical plans for the election of the Senate and the establishment of boundaries. Thomas Jefferson also writes of battles in the early days of the American Revolution.
October 1, 1776 | Statute An act for dividing the county of Fincastle into three distinct counties, and the parish of Botetourt into four distinct parishes. As more settlers moved into Fincastle County, the demand for local institutions - courts, justices of the peace, etc. - grew. The General Assembly divided Fincastle into the counties of Kentucky, Washington, and Montgomery. This act defined the boundaries of the three counties, established courts, identified county seats, and recognized justices of the peace.
July 20, 1777 | Treaty Avery's Treaty/Treaty of Holston This treaty between North Carolina and the Cherokee is referred to frequently in Daniel Smith's Journal as the Virginia and Carolina Commissioners work with the Cherokee to establish boundary lines.
1778 | Map Thomas Hutchins. A New Map of the Western Parts of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and North Carolina; Comprehending the River Ohio, and all the Rivers, which fall into it; Part of the River Mississippi, the Whole of the Illinois River, Lake Erie; Part of the Lakes Huron, Michigan &c. And all the Country bordering on these Lakes and Rivers, 1778 Images copyright 2000 by Cartography Associates.
1778 | Book Hutchins, Thomas. A Topographical Description of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and North Carolina, comprehending the rivers Ohio, Kenhawa, Sioto, Cherokee, Wabash, Illinois, Mississippi, &c. the climate, soil and produce, whether animal, vegetable, or mineral; the mountains, creeks, roads, distances, latitudes, &c. and of every part, laid down in the annexed map. London: Printed for the author and sold by J. Almon, 1778. Thomas Hutchins served as official geographer during George Washington's administration, following up on work he did before the Revolutionary War. Jefferson was very familiar with Hutchins' work, going so far as to offer detailed corrections to one of his maps (see their correspondence of 1784). Hutchins' 1778 map is in the archive section of the site. A topographical descriptionis available at Eighteenth Century Collections Online or through Yale University's Western Americana microfilm collection.
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.
May 3, 1779 | Statute An act concerning officers, soldiers, sailors, and marines. This act guaranteed bounties of land and money to officers, soldiers, sailors, and marines who enlisted, or re-enlisted in some circumstances, in the forces of the commonwealth or the continental army. The bounties included $750 and "a grant of one hundred acres of any unappropriated land within" the commonwealth of Virginia for soldiers and for officers a "like quantity of lands as is allowed to officers of the same rank in the Virginia regiments on continental establishment." Other provisions of the act included tax exemption during time of service, pensions for soldiers' widows, prices for essentials through commissaries, and a grant of two hundred acres for volunteers under the command of George Rogers Clarke in defense of "the Illinois Country." Additional bounties of one hundred acres of land and $750 for special solicitations for troops to defend Illinois county and "four troops of horse" for the defense of Virginia's "eastern quarter."
May 3, 1779 | Statute An act for declaring and asserting the rights of this commonwealth, concerning purchasing lands from Indian natives. Virginia's revolutionary government claimed an "exclusive right of preemption" over all lands within the bounds of its "chartered territory," including the lands north and west of the Ohio River. Moreover, the act made null and void every land transaction between individuals and the various tribes of Indians, or grants from English crown to any individual within the commonwealth, transferring control of all such lands into the hands of the commonwealth.
May 3, 1779 | Statute An act for establishing a Land office, and ascertaining the terms and manner of granting waste and unappropriated lands. Concerned about the disposal of "waste and unappropriated lands," the General Assembly created a land office to deal with the sale and distribution of these lands. The lands would be used to encourage immigration, increasing public revenue, and paying off the commonwealth's debt. The office's administrative role would be essential to managing records of land patents, grants, veterans' land warrants, and purchases of waste and unappropriated lands sold at forty pounds per hundred acres. Managing Virginias lands, and later the public lands of the United States, was a central concern throughout the dcades of the early republic.
August 14, 1779–August 7, 1780 | Journal Daniel Smith's Journal (1779-1780) In 1779, with other surveyors and adventurers from Virginia and North Carolina, Daniel Smith and Thomas Walker set out to extend the Virginia-North Carolina boundary line far beyond the Cumberland Gap. From August 1779 until August 1780, the men traveled from southern Virginia, to the Falls of the Ohio River, and back to Virginia. In addition to their survey duties, the men worked secretly for Thomas Jefferson, meeting with George Rogers Clark at the Falls of the Ohio River to scout locations for the planned Fort Jefferson.
October 3, 1779 | Statute An act for marking and opening a road over the Cumberland mountains into the county of Kentucky. In response to the pressure from increased settlement along the Ohio River, Virginia's legislature passed this act to finance the scouting and blazing of a trail for use as a road to facilitate "communication and intercourse between the inhabitants in the eastern and western parts." The legislators chose Evan Shelby and Richard Callaway for the task of surveying and marking the proposed route. These two men were directed to proceed through the Cumberland Mountains, to mark and then "cause ... to be opened and cleared. Shelby and Callaway were to receive three hundred acres of land or one hundred twenty pounds in payment for their services. The act also provided for the recruitment of a militia guard and labour detail of up to fifty men.
October 3, 1779 | Statute An act for more effectually securing to the officers and soldiers of the Virginia line, the lands reserved to them. With significant tracts of land in the western reaches of Virginia promised to the "officers and soldiers of the Virginia line," the Assembly asserts its rights to promise lands to veterans and remove squatters. To reduce tensions along the state's border, the assembly prohibits settlement beyond the boundaries it has set.
December 10, 1779 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, December 10, 1779 Thomas Jefferson informs George Washington of a conflict in Congress over reimbursing Colonel Theodrick Bland for expenses incurred at the Barracks at Albemarle. Jefferson encloses important extracts from an act in the Virginia Assembly that ensures land issued to officers, soldiers, and sailors will remain unsettled until the veterans, or their heirs, are able to take possession.
1780 | Report Report of the Virginia Commissioners, 1780 Daniel Smith and Thomas Walker report to the Virginia Assembly on their mission to establish a line between Virginia and North Carolina.
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.
January 29, 1780 | Letter Thomas Jefferson To Thomas Walker and Daniel Smith, January 29, 1780 In this secret communique, Thomas Jefferson instructs the surveyors to assist George Rogers Clark in selecting a spot for the fort to be constructed at the falls of the Ohio River.
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.
1781 | Map Jonathan Carver. A New Map of North America From the Latest Discoveries,1778 Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.
February 20, 1782 | Letter George Rogers Clark to Thomas Jefferson, February 20, 1782 George Rogers Clark writes of western fossils and "Curious work of Antiquity."
May 30, 1782 | Letter Virginia Commission for the Use of Western Territory The Assembly of Virginia appoints five individuals to study the uses of the state's Western Territory.
November 26, 1782 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to George Rogers Clark, November 26, 1782 Responding to George Rogers Clark's February 20 missive, Thomas Jefferson encourages him to send fossil and "notes as to the Indians, information of the country between the Missisipi and waters of the South sea &c."
November 29, 1782 | Letter Arthur Campbell to Thomas Jefferson, November 29, 1782 Arthur Campbell writes to Thomas Jefferson about fossil finds in the West and possible a possible western border that may result from negotiations with the British.
October 12, 1783 | Letter George Washington to Francçois Jean, marquis de Chastellux, October 12, 1783 George Washington recounts his trip into western New York and contemplates the possibilities for the navigation of plentiful western waterways, writing of "the immense diffusion and importance of it; and with the goodness of that Providence which has dealt her favors to us with so profuse a hand."
December 4, 1783 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to George Rogers Clark, December 4, 1783 Thomas Jefferson expresses concern over supposed British plans to explore North America from the Mississippi River to California and asks Clark if he would be willing to undertake such an exploration on behalf of the United States. Jefferson also addresses the ongoing Congressional debate over the location of the new capitol, believing a site on the Potomac River would be amenable to western states as they form.
1784 | Map John Filson. Map of Kentucke, 1784 Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.
1784 | Book Cook, James. A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean: Undertaken, by the command of His Majesty, for making discoveries in the Northern Hemisphere. London: W. and A. Strahan: for G. Nicol; and T. Cadell, 1784. James Cook's account of his final journey included geographic descriptions of the Pacific Coast,assertions of the abundance of furs and resources to be found in the region, as well as accounts of contact with indigenous peoples. Several versions of Cook's Voyagesare available as reprints, as microfilm, or online, including at Early Canadiana Online and Eighteenth Century Collections Online.
1784 | Book Filson, John. The Discovery, Settlement and Present State of Kentucke: and an essay towards the topography, and natural history of that important country. Wilmington: James Adams, 1784. John Filson's work helped popularize the idea of Kentucky and the trans-Appalachian region as a garden waiting for settlement by hardy Americans like Daniel Boone, whose biography he also wrote. Filson recognized that the region would be linked economically to the West via New Orleans and St. Lous, rather than the East. See his 1784 map in the archive. The Discovery, Settlement and Present State of Kentuckeis online at the Library of Congress' First American West website and as part of University Microfilm's American Culture series.
January 24, 1784 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Hutchins, January 24, 1784 Thomas Jefferson writes to geographer Thomas Hutchins with questions and remarks about 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." In his remarks, Jefferson notes several mistakes in the work.
February 8, 1784 | Letter George Rogers Clark to Thomas Jefferson, February 8, 1784 Responding to Thomas Jefferson's December 4, 1783, missive, George Rogers Clark regretfully opts out of any future U.S. expedition to the West. Clark does suggest that such an expedition be undertaken by a small group of men schooled in Native languages and traditions.
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."
March 1, 1784 | Report Resolutions from the Committee for the Western Territory, March, 1, 1784. With Jeremiah Townley Chase and David Howell, Thomas Jefferson issues recommendations for the division and government of the western edges of United States territory. The preferred boundaries of future states are laid out and vaguely classical and Indian names are given the various regions. Congress did not adopt the Ordinance as Jefferson submitted it, primarily rejecting the abolition of slavery in the region and Jefferson's nomenclature. As passed by Congress, it became the Ordinance of 1784.
March 1, 1784 | Statute 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.
March 29, 1784 | Letter George Washington to Thomas Jefferson, March 29, 1784 George Washington writes of the importance of water routes into the western territories of the United States. Washington also refers to the Maryland/Virginia conflict over commerce on the Potomac River and the resolution of the matter.
May 21, 1784 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, May 21, 1784 Thomas Jefferson worries about the evolving western borders and territory of the United States.
May 20, 1785 | Statute Land Ordinance of 1785. Until the Homestead Act of 1862, this ordinance, with detailed instructions as to the sectioning of land into township and plats, was the guiding document in the division and dispersal of Western lands.
September 26, 1785 | Letter George Washington to Thomas Jefferson, September 26, 1785 While anticipating the arrival of Houdon, who is to begin the sculpture commissioned by the State of Virginia, George Washington informs Thomas Jefferson that subscriptions for inland expeditions up the Potomac and James Rivers have all been sold to American investors. Washington also informs Jefferson of the Virginia Assembly's developing plans for the western part of the state, particularly in relation to North Carolina and Kentucky.
November 28, 1785 | Treaty Treaty of Hopewell This treaty further codified the relationship between the Cherokees and the American government
1786 | Map Thomas Jefferson. A Map of the country between Albemarle Sound, and Lake Erie, comprehending the whole of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, with parts of several other of the United States of America, 1786 (i.e. 1787) Albert H. and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia.
January 25, 1786 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to Archibald Stuart, January 25, 1786 Thomas Jefferson thanks Archibald Stuart for his correspondence and worries over the United States' financial help and credit abroad. Jefferson writes that Kentucky's possible cession would be disastrous to his hopes that the new nation serve as the core of settlement for both North and South America.
February 7, 1786 | Letter John Ledyard to Thomas Jefferson, February 7, 1786 John Ledyard warns Thomas Jefferson that Native accounts of fossil origins may not be reliable.
April 27, 1786 | Letter Samuel Parsons to Ezra Stiles, Forwarded to Thomas Jefferson, April 27, 1786 Samuel Parsons describes the fossils and ancient fortifications he encountered on his travels along the Ohio River during the Fall/Winter of 1785. Parsons letter to Stiles was forwarded to Jefferson, who was extremely interested in the discoveries along Big Bone Lick and the Ohio River.
May 8, 1786 | Letter Ezra Stiles to Thomas Jefferson, May 8, 1786 Ezra Stiles pens a note to Thomas Jefferson, introducing Samuel Wales of Yale University. Stiles also prefaces the enclosed letter from Samuel Parsons (see Samuel Parsons to Ezra Stiles, April 27, 1786.)
August 16, 1786 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to John Ledyard, August 16, 1786 Thomas Jefferson writes to John Ledyard expressing hopes that his explorations will prove useful.
1787 | Book Cutler, Manasseh. An Explanation of the Map which delineates that part of the Federal Lands, comprehended between Pennsylvania West Line, the Rivers Ohio and Sioto, and Lake Erie; confirmed to the United States by sundry Tribes of Indians, in the Treaties of 1784 and 1786, and now ready for Settlement. Salem: Dabney and Cushing, 1787. An avid supporter of western settlement, Manasseh Cutler helped form the Ohio Company and served as that organization's representative to Congress as the body debated the Ordinance of 1787. This work is available at Eighteenth Century Collections Online.
July 13, 1787 | Letter Northwest Ordinance, July 13 1787. Setting the stage for western expansion, the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 shaped the development of the territory north and west of the Ohio River.
August 8, 1787 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to Richard Claiborne, August 8, 1787 In this brief note, Thomas Jefferson writes that the best settlers for Western lands would be industrious Germans.
August 10, 1787 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787 Thomas Jefferson outlines the rudiments of a gentleman's education, noting the importance of the Spanish language to the future dealings of the United States. He also recommends several works of North American geography/history.
January 7, 1788 | Letter John Ledyard to Thomas Jefferson, July 1788 The renowned explorer shares his thoughts on racial/ethnic differences, and the possibility of Noah's Flood as an explanation for human diversity.
March 24, 1789 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Willard, March 24, 1789 Thomas Jefferson writes to Joseph Willard, primarily concerned with recent European scientific publications. Jefferson segues into a brief discussion of the scientific possibilities inherent in the exploration of North America, and the development of science by a people concerned with freedom and virtue.
May 10, 1789 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, May 10, 1789 Thomas Jefferson expresses his hopes for the future exploration and navigation of the Ohio and Potomac Rivers, adding a discussion about other avenues of water navigation that could promote western expansion and commerce. Jefferson also informs Washington he hopes to return to the United States, having appealed to John Jay for permission to do so. The letter also includes references to the role of the Marquis de la Fayette in French politics.
November 21, 1789 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to William Short, November 21, 1789 This letter illustrates Thomas Jefferson's interest in, and knowledge of, weather and the science of measurement, as he recounts the tribulations of a sea voyage.
July 11, 1790 | Letter 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.
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 26, 1790 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to Henry Knox, August 26, 1790 Thomas Jefferson discusses the Treaty of Hopewell and its ramifications for national expansion, particularly in regard to treaties made between states and native groups.
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.
August 28, 1790 | Report Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, August 28, 1790 Thomas Jefferson responds to George Washington's concerns, expressed in his August 27, 1790 report to Jefferson, over British expansion in the West. Jefferson is particularly concerned with the United States' position in the event of a conflict between England and Spain.
August 29, 1790 | Report Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, August 29, 1790 As tensions simmer between Great Britain and Spain, Thomas Jefferson writes to George Washington about the possibility of British troops crossing American soil to confront the Spanish. In this note, he offers further comments to the note penned August 28, 1790.
November 26, 1790 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to Gouverneur Morris, November 26, 1790 Thomas Jefferson writes to Gouverneur Morris regarding tensions in Congress over expansion and finances and violence with Native groups along the Ohio.
1791 | Book Bartram, William. Travels through North & South Carolina, Georgia, East & West Florida; the Cherokee country, the extensive territories of the Muscogulges or Creek Confederacy, and the country of the Chactaws. Containing an account of the soil and natural productions of those regions; together with observations on the manners of the Indians. Philadelphia: James & Johnson, 1791. Although Jefferson did not own a copy of Bartram's work until 1805 (Jackson, 92), as fellow members of the American Philosophical Society and frequent correspondents, Jefferson was well aware of Bartram's reports on Native American life and the natural history of the southeastern United States. Travels through North & South Carolina, Georgia, East & West Floridais available online at Gale Group's Eighteenth Century Collections, or as part of University Microfilm's American Culture Series.
March 7, 1791 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to Henry Innes, March 7, 1791 Thomas Jefferson continues correspondence with Henry Innes about native history in the western regions of the United States. Jefferson also laments the problems George Rogers Clark is having, likely as a result of ongoing financial and health issues.
March 12, 1791 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to William Carmichael, March 12, 1791 Tension along the Mississippi River worries Thomas Jefferson, who asks William Carmichael to clarify the position of the Spanish regarding navigation of the Mississippi below the mouth of the Ohio River.
March 12, 1791 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to William Short, March 12, 1791 Tensions with European powers create worries for Thomas Jefferson as he writes to William Short with concerns over the navigation of the Mississippi.
April 2, 1791 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, April 2, 1791 Thomas Jefferson summarizes for George Washington the diplomatic maneuvering of Spain and the United States on the subject of Florida and western settlements.
August 10, 1791 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to Henry Knox, August 10, 1791 The validity of private contracts with Native American groups in the face of Federal and state authority is addressed in this letter concerning the South Yazoo Company.
December 22, 1791 | Report Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, December 22, 1791 Thomas Jefferson advises President Washington on the prospects of negotiations with the Spanish and urges him to direct commissioners to focus on the navigation of the Mississippi.
February 25, 1792 | Letter David Campbell to Thomas Jefferson, February 25, 1792 David Campbell writes to Thomas Jefferson, outlining the difficulties in establishing federal authority in the newly organized Southwest Territory. Significantly, Campbell argues for the supremacy of the Constitution over North Carolina state law in the region and asserts that the land and property of Native groups should be left unmolested.
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.
March 27, 1792 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to David Campbell March 27, 1792 Thomas Jefferson replies to David Campbell, in response to Campbell's letter of February 25, 1792, thanking him for his commentary on Western law. Jefferson also expresses concern over the seizure of Native American lands, concerned that an Indian War would be expensive.
January 22, 1793 | Letter George Washington to Thomas Jefferson, January 22, 1793 George Washington responds to Jefferson's note about Michaux's expedition and asks that his name be added to the subscription list.
January 23, 1793 | Letter American Philosophical Society Members Subscribe to Andre Michaux's Expedition Thomas Jefferson's draft of the pledge of the subscribers to the Andre Michaux expedition.
January 23, 1793 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to Andre Michaux, January 23, 1793 Thomas Jefferson's instructions for Andre Michaux's proposed western expedition.
February 16, 1793 | Report Thomas Jefferson to the United States House of Representatives, February 16, 1793 In the report, Thomas Jefferson's understanding of American land policy in the west, particularly Indian treaties and possession and white claims, is clearly laid out as he reports on the land claim of a Revolutionary War veteran
March 10, 1793 | Report Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, March 10, 1793 In his official capacity as Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson writes to George Washington, reiterating the boundaries of the western frontiers of the United States, particularly as they apply to treaties with Native groups.
March 11, 1793 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to Henry Lee, March 11, 1793 Thomas Jefferson writes to Henry Lee about extending the Virginia/Kentucky line and the prospects for settlement. Regarding Virginia's unsettled boundary with the southwestern territory, Thomas Jefferson anticipates population growth and formal organization in that region.
April 10, 1793 | Letter David Rittenhouse to Thomas Jefferson, April 10, 1793 David Rittenhouse asks Thomas Jefferson for direction in the planning of the Andrew Michaux expedition.
April 10, 1793 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, January 22, 1793 Thomas Jefferson forwards information about subscriptions for Michaux's journey to George Washington.
April 11, 1793 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to David Rittenhouse, April 11, 1793 Thomas Jefferson responds to David Rittenhouse's April 10 inquiry about planning Michaux's expedition and desires that the Philosophical Society meet.
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.
1794 | Map Samuel Lewis. The State of Virginia from the best Authorities, 1794 Images copyright 2000 by Cartography Associates.
February 6, 1795 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to Francois Ivernois, February 6, 1785 Thomas Jefferson expresses hopes for the development of higher education and the sciences in America.
July 3, 1796 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to Jonathan Williams, July 3, 1796 Thomas Jefferson discusses "barometrical measurements" of the Virginia mountains. Jefferson also notes his ongoing interest in agricultural researches.
1797 | Book Barton, Benjamin Smith. New Views of the Origin of the Tribes and Nations of America. Philadelphia: Printed for the author by John Bioren, 1797. Barton's parallel vocabulary of native words is presented here to provide evidence for his assertion of the Asian origins of Native American languages. A frequent correspondent of Jefferson's, Barton's work in natural history was wide-ranging and influential among his fellow American Philosophical Society members. As one of Meriwether Lewis' scientific mentors, Barton's views on botany and native life were surely impacted the expedition. New Viewsis found online at Gale Group's Eighteenth Century Collections and as microfilm from University Microfilms.
1797 | Book Carver, Johnathan. Three years travels through the interior parts of North-America, for more than five thousand miles. Boston, 1797. Carver's travelogue borrows from Hennepin, Lahontan, and other explorers to propogate ideas about "height-of-land" and the great river "Oregan." See his 1778 map in the archive for an illustration of the "height-of-land" concept. Editions are available at Early Canadiana Online and Eighteenth Century Collections Online.
May 29, 1797 | Letter 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.
June 17, 1797 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to Aaron Burr, June 17, 1797 Thomas Jefferson contemplates the actions of the newly seated Congress in the light of foreign pressure and partisan politics. Jefferson's worries about the changing character of American politics are focused on expansion and the possibility of serious French colonization in Louisiana.
February 12, 1799 | Letter Daniel Clark to Thomas Jefferson, February 12, 1799 Daniel Clark, of New Orleans, writes to Thomas Jefferson on behalf of Philip Nolan, promising a summary of Nolan's information and impressions about New Mexico and the Louisiana Territory. Clark also uses the letter to introduce Jefferson to the work of William Dunbar.
June 24, 1799 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to William Dunbar, June 24, 1799 Thomas Jefferson writes his first letter to William Dunbar, who had been recommended to him by Daniel Clark. Jefferson asks Dunbar for information on the land and inhabitants of the "regions beyond" the Mississippi River, making particular note of the importance of recording the languages of indigenous peoples as a means to understanding their origins.
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.
January 16, 1800 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to William Dunbar, January 16, 1800 Thomas Jefferson writes to William Dunbar, thanking him for promised communications about Native languages from Western groups and meteorological observations that may be used in comparative studies. Reports from Dunbar were read at the American Philosophical Society and several appear in the "Reports" section of this archive.
January 27, 1800 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Priestley, January 27, 1800 Thomas Jefferson writes to Joseph Priestley of his hopes for American education, including public lands for educational institutions.
January 29, 1800 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to John Breckinridge, January 29, 1800 Thomas Jefferson advocates the creation of a separate Western judiciary in the newly laid-out regions. The tumult in France causes him to worry over the fate of the American Republic.
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."
June 30, 1800 | Report William Dunbar to the American Philosophical Society, via Thomas Jefferson, read January 16, 1801 This letter, 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 provides detailed notes on the climate in and near Natchez.
June 30, 1800 | Report William Dunbar to the American Philosophical Society, via Thomas Jefferson, read January 16, 1801. This letter, with several other missives and reports written by Dunbar, were forward 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 describes the sign language used by Native Americans between the Mississippi River and the "Western American ocean."
November 29, 1800 | Letter James Wilkinson to Thomas Jefferson, November 29, 1800 James Wilkinson introduces Thomas Jefferson to the work of William Dunbar and offers his own map of the Mississippi Territory.
December 16, 1800 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to Caspar Wistar, December 16, 1800 Thomas Jefferson introduces Caspar Wistar to the work of William Dunbar, excited at the prospect of a scientific correspondent "on the very verge of the great terra incognita of our western continent."
December 16, 1800 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to Caspar Wistar, December 16, 1800 In a personal addition to his other letter of December 16, 1800, Thomas Jefferson assures Caspar Wistar of William Dunbar's fitness for membership in the American Philosophical Society.
1801 | Map Alexander Mackenzie. A Map of America between Latitudes 40 and 70 North, and Longitudes 45 and 180 West, Exhibiting Mackenzie's Track, 1801 Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.
1801 | Book Vancouver, George. A Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific Ocean, and round the world: in which the coast of north-west America has been carefully examined and accurately surveyed : undertaken by His Majesty's command, principally with a view to ascertain the existence of any navigable communication between the North Pacific and North Atlantic oceans, and performed in the years 1790, 1791, 1792, 1793, 1794, and 1795, in the Discovery sloop of war, and armed tender Chatham, under the command of Captain George Vancouver. London: G. G. and J. Robinson, 1798. Vancouver's work provided detailed charts and descriptions of the Pacific Coast and the landscape the Corps of Discovery would face while there. Several editions of A Voyage of Discoveryare available, see Early Canadiana Online and Yale University's Western Americana microfilm series.
January 12, 1801 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to William Dunbar, January 12, 1801 Thomas Jefferson acknowledges William Dunbar's July 14, 1800 letter and enclosures; he also touches on other scientific matters and expresses his satisfaction at having a scientific correspondent on the western edge of the country.
March 20, 1801 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to Joseph-Mathias Gerard de Rayneval, March 20, 1801 Thomas Jefferson addresses the history and purposes of the Ohio, Wabash, and Loyal Land Companies in this letter about Conrad Alexandre Gérard de Rayneval's financial difficulties with the Wabash Company. State cession of lands to the companies are germane to the discussion.
May 26, 1801 | Letter 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.
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.
August 22, 1801 | Letter William Dunbar to Thomas Jefferson, August 22, 1801 William Dunbar writes to Thomas Jefferson of scientific matters, including the properties of rainbows. Dunbar anticipates fossil finds west of the Mississippi River, based on information forwarded by the late Philip Nolan. This letter, with several other missives and reports written by Dunbar, were forward 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 1809. See the "Reports" section of this archive.
November 24, 1801 | Letter 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.
1802 | Map Aaron Arrowsmith. A map exhibiting all the new discoveries in the interior parts of North America, additions to 1802. Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.
1802 | Book Mackenzie, Alexander. Voyages from Montreal on the river St. Laurence, through the continent of North America, to the frozen and Pacific oceans, in the years 1789 and 1793 : with a preliminary account of the rise, progress and present state of the fur trade of that country. London: R. Noble, 1802. Mackenzie's work recounts his travel across North America, demonstrating the possibility of such a trek, and includes a passage from MacKenzie urging the British to develop a route across Canada to the Pacific and thence to Asia. In doing so, the British could control the fur trade and strengthen their hold on the continent through easier settlement. Lewis and Clark carried a copy of Voyageswith them. Mackenzie's 1781 map is in the archive section of this site. An 1801 edition published in Edinburgh is available at Early Canadiana Online and through University Microfilm's American Culture Series; an 1802 London edition is included in Yale University's Western Americana microfilm collection.
April 2, 1802 | Report Martin Duralde to the American Philosophical Society, via William Dunbar, read March 4, 1803. The current state of, and the prospects for, fossil hunting in the West receive detailed attention in this letter from Martin Duralde.
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.
October 20, 1802 | Report John Watkins to the American Philosophical Society, via Benjamin Smith Barton, read January 1, 1803 Dr. John Watkins' letter to Benjamin Smith Barton is an interesting catalog of the flora and fauna of the northern parts of the Louisiana Territory. The inclusion of this missive in theTransactions of the American Philosophical Societydemonstrates the importance of science in the West to the members of the Society.
November 29, 1802 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Priestley, November 29, 1802 Thomas Jefferson writes of civil government, the first principles of government, and France. He mentions the possible cession of Louisiana to France.
1803 | Map Nicolas King. Lewis and Clark map, with annotations in brown ink by Meriwether Lewis, tracing showing the Mississippi, the Missouri for a short distance above Kansas, Lakes Michigan, Superior, and Winnipeg, and the country onwards to the Pacific, 1803 Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.
January 18, 1803 | Report Thomas Jefferson to United States Congress, January 18, 1803 Thomas Jefferson's confidential report to Congress planned westward expansion and the United States' relationship with Native Americans.
February 27, 1803 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Smith Barton, February 27, 1803 Thomas Jefferson informs Benjamin Smith Barton of Meriwether Lewis' upcoming journey, excited at the prospect of the scientific advances that will result.
February 28, 1803 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Rush, February 28, 1803 Thomas Jefferson informs Benjamin Rush of Meriwether Lewis' upcoming trip west, asking Rush to assist Lewis in any way possible. Jefferson then details his ongoing digestive problems.
February 28, 1803 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to Caspar Wistar, February 28, 1803 Jefferson informs Wistar of the upcoming expedition and of his faith in Meriwether Lewis.
March 2, 1803 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to Robert Patterson, March 2, 1803 Thomas Jefferson writes to Robert Patterson of the planned expedition west, asking him to help prepare Meriwether Lewis for taking geographical measurements.
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."
March 6, 1803 | Letter Andrew Ellicott to Thomas Jefferson, March 6, 1803 Andrew Ellicott writes of his willingness to train Meriwether Lewis in taking measurements on his trip westward.
March 14, 1803 | Letter Albert Gallatin to Thomas Jefferson, March 14, 1803 Albert Gallatin informs Thomas Jefferson of the preparations he has made for the Corps of Discovery expedition, including commissioning Nicholas King's blank projection of western North America. Gallatin demonstrates his familiarity with the work of cartographers including Arrowsmith, Delisle, and Mackenzie, assuming Jefferson has the same background knowledge.
March 15, 1803 | Letter Robert Patterson to Thomas Jefferson, March 15, 1803 Robert Patterson explains the mathematical formulas he will show Meriwether Lewis in preparing him for his journey. Please note, the complex nature of the formulas and examples makes it more feasible to leave them off of the transcribed document than include them; see the images for a complete rendition of Patterson's work.
March 20, 1803 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to Albert Gallatin, March 20, 1803 As Jefferson and Albert Gallatin plan Lewis and Clark's expedition, questions over geography and cartography continue as Jefferson reveals his familiarity with maps of the West.
April 3, 1803 | Letter Meriwether Lewis to Thomas Jefferson, April 3, 1803 Meriwether Lewis writes to Jefferson regarding his preparations, including his many communications with men of science. Lewis includes his plans for a collapsible boat.
April 13, 1803 | Letter Albert Gallatin to Thomas Jefferson, April 13, 1803 Albert Gallatin responds to Jefferson's planned instructions to Lewis by stressing the importance of evaluating the suitability of the parts of the trans-Missouri region not included in the Louisiana Purchase. He wonders if British appropriation of the region is a possibility.
April 17, 1803 | Letter Levi Lincoln to Thomas Jefferson, April 17, 1803 Levi Lincoln offers suggestions for the Corps of Discovery's trip and warns Thomas Jefferson of strong objections from the opposition.
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.
April 23, 1803 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to Meriwether Lewis, April 23, 1803 Thomas Jefferson worries that lengthy preparations are keeping Meriwether Lewis from a swift departure, fearing a delay to the expedition.
April 27, 1803 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to Meriwether Lewis, April 27, 1803 Thomas Jefferson informs Meriwether Lewis he will be forwarding copies of his instructions for the journey into the Louisiana Territory. The instructions may be shown to members of the American Philosophical Society, in case they would make any modifications.
April 30, 1803 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to Meriwether Lewis, April 30, 1803 Thomas Jefferson encourages Meriwether Lewis to follow Andrew Ellicott's advice on scientific matters involving astronomical measurements.
May 13, 1803 | Letter 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.
June 11, 1803 | Letter Benjamin Rush to Meriwether Lewis, June 11, 1803 Benjamin Rush writes instructions for Meriwether Lewis, who is about to undertake his trip westward.
June 20, 1803 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to Meriwether Lewis, June 20, 1803 Thomas Jefferson issues detailed instructions to Meriwether Lewis, addressing every aspect of the upcoming expedition.
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 8, 1803 | Letter Meriwether Lewis to Thomas Jefferson, September 8, 1803 Meriwether Lewis updates Thomas Jefferson on his progress preparing for the westward expedition.
September 21, 1803 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to William Dunbar, September 21, 1803 Thomas Jefferson questions William Dunbar about Spanish borders in the Louisiana Territory.
October 3, 1803 | Letter Meriwether Lewis to Thomas Jefferson, October 3, 1803 While pausing to provision his expedition, Meriwether Lewis writes to Thomas Jefferson about the scientific explorations at Big Bone Lick and his plans for the trip westward.
October 21, 1803 | Letter William Dunbar to Thomas Jefferson, October 21, 1803 William Dunbar responds to Thomas Jefferson's September 21 letter regarding the Spanish presence in Florida and the Gulf Coast and the surveys conducted by the Spanish in that region. He also praises Daniel Clark's summation of the population of the Lousiana Territory and suggests a representative from that region appear before Congress, but notes that the Spanish government is unlikely to allow such a measure to take place as long as the territory is in their hands.
October 21, 1803 | Letter William Dunbar to Thomas Jefferson, October 21, 1803 William Dunbar writes to Thomas Jefferson regarding the Spanish presence in Florida and the Gulf Coast and the surveys conducted by the Spanish in that region. He also praises George Rogers Clark's summation of the population of the Lousiana Territory and suggests a representative from that region appear before Congress, but notes that the Spanish government is unlikely to allow such a measure to take place as long as the territory is in their hands.
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.
1804 | Map Aaron Arrowsmith & Samuel Lewis. "Louisiana." InA New and Elegant General Atlas, Comprising All the New Discoveries, to the Present Time. John Conrad and Company: Philadelphia, 1804. Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.
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.
January 28, 1804 | Letter William Dunbar to Thomas Jefferson, January 28, 1804 William Dunbar sends notes to Jefferson concerning the Mississippi River Valley; he believes the notes could be read before the Philosphical Society; see the "Reports" section of this archive for several of Dunbar's dispatches on the Mississippi River region. Dunbar continues with a discussion of the development of Natchez and the establishment of a college there.
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.
May 13, 1804 | Letter William Dunbar to Thomas Jefferson, May 13, 1804 William Dunbar thanks Thomas Jefferson for his comments about Dunbar's notes on the Mississippi River. Spain's land sales in Western Florida draw the author's attention and Dunbar offers approval of continuing explorations on America's western rivers, while bemoaning Congress' reluctance to adequately fund such expeditions.
November 9, 1804 | Letter William Dunbar to Thomas Jefferson, November 9, 1804 William Dunbar relates the beginnings of his exploration of the Red River, including ventures into former Spanish territory. He also relates general scientific information of interest to Jefferson.
1805 | Map George Henri Victor Collot and P.F. Tardieu. Map of the Missouri; of the higher parts of the Mississippi; and of the elevated Plain, 1805 Images copyright 2000 by Cartography Associates.
1811 | Map Aaron Arrowsmith. A map exhibiting all the new discoveries in the interior parts of North America, additions to 1811 Images copyright 2000 by Cartography Associates.
1814 | Map Aaron Arrowsmith. A map exhibiting all the new discoveries in the interior parts of North America, additions to June 1814. Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.
September 21, 1814 | Letter Thomas Jefferson to Samuel H. Smith, September 21, 1814 Following the destruction of Washington by the British, Jefferson writes to Samuel H. Smith offering his own extensive library to Congress, noting his strategies for book acquisition over the course of his career. Jefferson's search for books about North America draws particular attention.