History of the United States – Jeffersonian Republicans: Principles and Policies/The Great West

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History of the United States – Jeffersonian Republicans: Principles and Policies/The Great West

section number six the history of the u.s. part three the Union and national politics this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain for more information or to volunteer please visit librivox.org recording by robert scott history of the united states by charles a beard and mary ritter beard part 3 section 6 chapter 9 the Jeffersonian Republicans in power republican principles and policies opposition to strong central government cherishing especially the agricultural interest as Jefferson said the Republicans were in the beginning provincial in their concern and outlook their attachment to America was certainly as strong as that of Hamilton but they regarded the state rather than the national government as the proper center of power and affection indeed a large part of the rank-and-file had been among the opponents of the Constitution in the days of its adoption Jefferson had entertained doubts about it and Monroe destined to be the fifth president had been one of the bitter foes of ratification the former went so far in the direction of local autonomy that he exalted the state above the nation in the Kentucky resolutions of 1798 declaring the Constitution to be a mere compact and the state’s competent to prett and nullify federal law this was provincialism with a vengeance quote it is jealousy not confidence which prescribes limited constitutions end quote wrote Jefferson for the Kentucky legislature jealousy of the national government not confidence in it this is the ideal that reflected the provincial and agricultural interest Republican simplicity every act of the Jeffersonian party during its early days of power was in accord with the ideals of government which it professed it had opposed all pomp and ceremony calculated to give weight and dignity to the chief executive of the nation as symbols of monarchy and high prerogative appropriately therefore Jefferson’s inauguration on march four 1801 the first at the new capital at Washington was marked by extreme simplicity in keeping with this procedure he quit the practice followed by Washington and Adams of reading presidential addresses to Congress in joint assembly and adopted in its stead the plan of sending his messages in writing a custom that was continued unbroken until nineteen thirteen when President Wilson returned to the example set by the first chief magistrate Republican measures the Republicans had complained of a great national debt as the source of a dangerous quote money power giving strength to the federal government accordingly they began to pay it off as rapidly as possible they had held Commerce and low esteem and upon a large Navy as a mere device to protect it consequently they reduced the number of warships they had objected to the excise taxes particularly on whiskey these they quickly abolished to the intense satisfaction of the farmers they had protested against the heavy cost of the federal government they reduced expenses by discharging hundreds of men

from the army and abolishing many offices they had savagely criticized the sedition law and Jefferson refused to enforce it they had been deeply offended by the assault on freedom of speech and press and they promptly impeached Samuel chase a justice of the supreme court who had been especially severe in his attacks upon offenders under the Sedition Act their failure to convict justice chase by a narrow margin was due to no lack of zeal on their part but to the Federalist strength in the Senate where the trial was held they had regarded the appointment of a large number of federal judges during the last hours of Adam’s his administration as an attempt to entrench Federalists in the judiciary and to enlarge the sphere of the national government accordingly they at once repealed the Act creating the new judge ships thus depriving the quote midnight appointees of their posts they had considered the federal offices civil and military as sources of great strength to the Federalists and Jefferson though committed to the principle that offices should be open to all and distributed according to merit was careful to fill most of the vacancies as they occurred with trusted Republicans to his credit however it must be said that he did not make wholesale removals to find room for party workers the Republicans thus hued to the line of their general policy of restricting the weight dignity and activity of the national government yet there were no Republicans as the Federalists asserted prepared to urge serious modifications in the Constitution quote if there be any among us who wish to dissolve this union or to change its republican form and quote wrote Jefferson and his first inaugural quote let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it end quote after reciting the fortunate circumstances of climate soil and isolation which made the future of America so full of promise Jefferson concluded quote a wise and frugal government which shall restrain men from injuring one another shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of Industry and improvement and shall not take from the mouths of labor the bread it has earned this is the sum of good government and this is necessary to close the circle of our Felicity’s and quote in all this the Republicans had not reckoned with destiny in a few short years that lay ahead it was their fate to double the territory of the country making inevitable a con tinental nation to give the Constitution a generous interpretation that shocked many Federalists to wage war on behalf of American commerce to reestablish the hated United States bank to enact a high protective tariffs to see their federalist opponents in their turn discredited as nullifiers and provincials to announce high national doctrines in foreign affairs and to behold the Constitution exalted and defended against the pretensions of states by a son of old Virginia John Marshall Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States the Republicans and the Great West expansion and land hunger the first of the great measures which drove the Republicans out upon this new national course the

purchase of the Louisiana territory was the product of circumstances rather than of their deliberate choosing it was not the lack of land for his cherished farmers that led Jefferson to add such an immense domain to the original possessions of the United States in the Northwest Territory now embracing Ohio Indiana Illinois Michigan Wisconsin and a portion of Minnesota settlements were mainly confined to the north bank of the Ohio River to the south in Kentucky and Tennessee where there were more than 100,000 white people who had pushed over the mountains from virginia and the carolinas there were still wide reaches of untilled soil the Alabama and Mississippi regions were vast India frontiers of the state of Georgia unsettled and almost unexplored even to the wildest imagination there seemed to be territory enough to satisfy the land hunger of the American people for a century to come the significance of the Mississippi River at all events the east then the center of power saw no good reason for expansion the planters of the Carolinas the manufacturers of Pennsylvania the importers of New York the shipbuilders of New England looking to the seaboard and to Europe for trade refinements and sometimes their ideas of government were slow to appreciate the place of the West in national economy the better educated the Easterners were the less it seems they comprehended the destiny of the nation sons of Federalists father’s at Williams College after a long debate decided by a vote of 15 to 1 that the purchase of Louisiana was undesirable on the other hand the pioneers of Kentucky Ohio and Tennessee unlearned in books saw with their own eyes the resources of the wilderness many of them had been across the Mississippi and had beheld the rich lands awaiting the plow of the white man down the great river they floated their wheat corn and bacon to ocean-going ships bound for the ports of the Seaboard or for Europe the land journeys over the mountain barriers with bulky farm produce they knew from experience were almost impossible and costly at best nails bolts of cloth tea and coffee could go or come that way but not corn and bacon a free outlet to the sea by the Mississippi was as essential to the pioneers of the Kentucky region as the harbor of Boston to the merchant Prince’s of that metropolis Louisiana under Spanish rule for this reason they watched with deep solicitude the fortunes of the Spanish king to whom at the close of the Seven Years War had fallen the Louisiana territory stretching from New Orleans to the Rocky Mountains while he controlled the mouth of the Mississippi there was little to fear for he had neither the army nor the Navy necessary to resist any invasion of American trade moreover Washington had been able by the exercise of great tact to secure from Spain in 1795 a trading privilege through New Orleans which satisfied the present requirements of the frontiersman even if it did not olay their fears for the future so things stood when a swift succession of events altered the whole situation Louisiana transferred to france in july 1802 a royal order from spain instructed the officials at new orleans to close the

port to american produce about the same time a disturbing rumor long current was confirmed Napoleon had coerced Spain into returning Louisiana to France by a secret treaty signed in 1800 quote the scalars of the Alps and conquerors of Venice end quote now looked across the sea for new scenes of adventure the West was ablaze with excitement a call for war ran through the frontier expeditions were organized to prevent the landing of the French and petitions for instant action flooded in upon Jefferson Jefferson sees the danger Jefferson the friend of France and sworn enemy of England compelled to choose in the interest of America never winced quote the Secession of Louisiana and the Florida’s by Spain to France end quote he wrote to Livingston the American minister in Paris quote works sorely on the United States it completely reverses all the political relations of the United States and will form a new epoch in our political course there is on the globe one single spot the possessor of which is our natural and habitual enemy it is New Orleans through which the produce of three-eighths of our territory must pass to market France placing herself in that door assumes to us an attitude of defiance Spain might have retained it quietly for years her Pacific dispositions her feeble state would induce her to increase our facilities they’re not so can it ever be in the hands of France the day that France takes possession of New Orleans fixes the sentence which is to restrain her forever within her low-water mark it seals the union of the two nations who in conjunction can maintain exclusive possession of the ocean from that moment we must marry ourselves to the British fleet and nation this is not a state of things we seek or desire it is one which the measure if adopted by France forces on us as necessarily as any other cause by the laws of nature brings on its necessary effect and quote louisiana purchased acting on this belief but apparently seeing only the mississippi outlet at stake jefferson sent his friend james monroe to France with the power to buy new orleans and west florida before monroe arrived the regular minister Livingston had already convinced Napoleon that it would be well to sell territory which might be rested from him at any moment by british sea power especially as the war temporarily stopped by the piece of amines was once more raging in Europe wise as he was in his day Livingston had at first no thought of buying the whole Louisiana country he was simply dazed when Napoleon offered to sell the entire domain and get rid of the business altogether though staggered by the proposal he and Monroe decided to accept on April 30 they signed the treaty of session agreeing to pay 11 million two hundred and fifty thousand dollars in six percent bonds and to discharge certain debts due French citizens making in all approximately 15 millions Spain protested Napoleon’s brother fumed French newspapers objected but the deed was done Jefferson and his constitutional scruples when the news of this

extraordinary event reached the United States the people were filled with astonishment and no one was more surprised than Jefferson himself he had thought of buying new orleans and west florida for a small sum and now a vast domain had been dumped into the lap of the nation he was puzzled on looking into the Constitution he found not a line authorizing the purchase of more territory and so he drafted an amendment declaring quote louisiana as seated by france a part of the united states end quote he had belabored the Federalists for piling up a big national debt and he could hardly endure the thought of issuing more bonds himself in the midst of his doubts came the news that Napoleon might withdraw from the bargain thoroughly alarmed by that Jefferson pressed the Senate for a ratification of the treaty he still clung to his original idea that the Constitution did not warrant the purchase but he lamely concluded quote if our friends shall think differently I shall certainly acquiesce with satisfaction confident that the good sense of our country will correct the evil of the construction when it shall produce ill effects end quote thus the stanch advocate of quote strict interpretation cut loose from his own doctrine and entrusted the construction of the Constitution to quote the good sense and quote of his countrymen the treaty ratified this unusual transaction so favorable to the West aroused the ire of the seaboard Federalists some denounced it as unconstitutional easily forgetting Hamilton’s masterly defense of the bank also not mentioned in the Constitution others urged that if quote the howling wilderness end quote ever should be settled it would turn against the east form new commercial connections and escaped from federal control still others protested that the purchase would lead inevitably to the dominance of a quote hodgepodge of wild men from the far west end quote Federalists who thought quote the broad back of America end quote could readily bear Hamilton’s consolidated debt now went into agonies over a bond issue of less than one-sixth of that amount but in vain Jefferson’s party with a high hand carried the day the Senate after hearing the Federalist protest ratified the treaty in December 1803 the French flag was hauled down from the old government buildings in New Orleans and the stars and stripes were hoisted as a sign that the land of Coronado de Soto Marquette and LaSalle had passed forever to the United States by a single stroke the original territory of the United States was more than doubled while the boundaries of the purchase were uncertain it is safe to say that the Louisiana territory included what is now Arkansas Missouri Iowa Oklahoma Kansas Nebraska South Dakota and large portions of Louisiana Minnesota North Dakota Colorado Montana and Wyoming the farmlands that the Friends of quote a little America end quote on the Seacoast declared a hopeless wilderness were within a hundred years fully occupied and valued at nearly seven billion dollars almost five hundred times the price paid to Napoleon western explorations having taken the fateful stop Jefferson wisely began to

make the most of it he prepared for the opening of the new country by sending the Lewis and Clark expedition to explore it discover its resources and lay out an overland route through the Missouri Valley and across the Great Divide to the Pacific the story of this mighty exploit which began in the spring of 1804 and ended in autumn of 1806 was set down with skill and pains in the journal of Lewis and Clark when published even in short form it invited the forward-looking men of the East to take thought about the western empire at the same time Zebulon Pike in a series of journeys explored the sources of the Mississippi River and penetrated the Spanish territories of the far southwest thus Scouts and pioneers continued the work of diplomats end of section 6 recorded by Robert Scott July the 10th 2007