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


Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Albert Gallatin

Thomas Jefferson to Albert Gallatin, March 20, 1803
Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress
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.

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Monticello Mar. 20. 1803

Dear Sir

Yours of the 14th is received and I have written to Mr. Madison to issue a commission to Edward Turner of Kentucky [unclear] for Register of the land office at Natchez. a commission has issued to Trist via Carmichael. Thompson and Watson may await my return. I am indorsing the power to transfer the 2500D to the disposal of the Secretary of War.

I do not find in my library any thing which can throw light on the geography of the Rio Norte. I do not believe that in modern times any thing has been added to the information as to that river in early times. of this information Mitchell had the benefit. his map was made under public patronage & with all the information that could procure him. that it was made with great care we know from what is laid down in those Western parts with which we have lately become accustomed. Certainly his map we find much nearer the truth than could have been expected considering when it was made. Hence I conclude that his delineation of the Rio Norte is more to be credited than any other, not excepting Danville & Delisle. Accept my best [unclear]

Th: Jefferson