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Whenever our affairs go obviously wrong, the good sense of the people
will interpose and set them right." -- JEFFERSON'S Writings.
THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IN POWER
THOMAS JEFFERSON (DEMOCRAT)1
212. Jefferson's Administration (Third President, Two Terms, 1801-1809); "Republican Simplicity"; the New National Capital; Jefferson's Appointments to Office. The new President 2 called himself a Democratic-Republican, or, as we should say to-day, a Democrat (§ 203). He prided himself on taking his stand with the people. In dress, manners, and ideas he was quite different from the Federalist Presidents, Washington and Adams. They both thought it proper for the head of the nation to stand a little apart from the people; both were opposed to monarchy, yet they
1 Reference Books (Jefferson to J. Q. Adams, inclusive). A. B. Hart's "Formation of the Union," ch. 9-12; W. C. Bryant and Gay's "United States" (revised edition), IV, 145-291; E. Charming's The Jeffersonian System"; K. C. Babcock's "Rise of American Nationality (war of 1812, etc.); F. J. Turner's "Rise of the New West A. B. Hart's "American History by Contemporaries," ch. 16-23; A. B. Hart's Source Book," ch. 12-14; J. Schouler's "United States," II, III, ch. 10-12; J. B. McMaster's "United States," II, 526-635; III, IV, V, 1-523. See also the classified List of Books in the Appendix.
2 Thomas Jefferson was born 1743, at Shadwell, Virginia; died 1826. He was a member of the Continental Congress and drafted the Declaration of Independence; he also drew up the Act of Religious Freedom adopted by Virginia through Madison's influence in 1785. he proposed our present decimal system of coinage and secured its acceptance. In 1785 he was sent to France to succeed Franklin as minister of the United States. On his tombstone is the following epitaph written by himself: "Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and the father of the University of Virginia." The presidential election of November, 1800, was a time of great excitement, and of bitter strife between the Federalists and the Republicans (or Democrats (§ 203)). Thomas Jefferson of Virginia and Aaron Burr of New Jersey were the Republican candidates. Each received 73 electoral votes; while John Adams, the Federalist candidate, got but 65. In such a case the House of Representatives -- a majority of whom were Federalists -- had to decide the election; they finally voted in favor of Jefferson, and he was declared President, with Burr for Vice President. This period marks the downfall of the Federalists; for the next forty years the Democrats held control.
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
kept up something of the dignity and ceremony of a king. Jefferson preferred, on the contrary, "republican simplicity" in all things, and was ready to receive and shake hands with any one and every one that wanted to shake hands with him.
Jefferson took the oath of office (§ 199) in the new capitol, which was ridiculed as a "palace in the woods." It stood on a hill in the "city of Washington" (§ 199), then nothing but a straggling village of a few hundred inhabitants. Washington, for whom it was named, had himself chosen the ground for the city.
When Jefferson entered office he found only Federalists (§ § 196, 203) in the employ of the government. He naturally wished that men of his own party should hold such offices, and when opportunities came he appointed Democrats to fill them. From this time on, for many years, each new President gave government employment to those who had voted for him.
213. What was thought of the Probable Extent of the Republic. Eminent men of that day thought it very doubtful whether the American republic could permanently extend into the wilderness beyond the Allegheny Mountains. Many agreed with them, and believed that in time the country would be divided into several nations. They thought it would be impossible for the President to enforce the laws over a territory reaching from the Atlantic to the Mississippi. When we consider that there were then no steamboats, canals, or railways to bind the states together, and in fact very few good ordinary roads, it does not seem strange that men of sound judgment should have thought so.
214. What Our New Navy taught the Pirates of Tripoli. For many years Tripoli and other towns on the north coast of Africa had been nests of Mohammedan pirates. They sent out fast-sailing armed vessels to capture the ships of Christians coming to the Mediterranean to trade.
European nations had made repeated efforts to break up this system of robbery, but had not succeeded. Even Great Britain was obliged to pay the governors of Algiers and Tripoli large sums of money every year in order to protect her commerce in that quarter of the globe. We, too, felt obliged to buy the good
will of these pirates. At one time we paid the ruler of Tripoli $20,000 a year to let our merchant vessels sail the Mediterranean in peace. Furthermore, we spent $1,000,000 in freeing American sailors that were held as slaves in Tripoli. Part of this money was given by the government and part of it was collected in the churches on Sunday.
The Governor of Tripoli, disappointed because we did not yield to his demands. and give him a still larger tribute, declared war (1801) against the United States. Jefferson was a man of peace, but he believed with Benjamin Franklin that "if you make yourself a sheep, the wolves will eat you." He thought we had been sheep long enough. The United States had recently completed (1798-1799) a small fleet of first-class warships. They were commanded by such men as Barry (§ 169), Bainbridge, Decatur, Preble, and Truxtun. The President sent them out to Tripoli, and they soon made the ruler of that place confess his sins and beg for mercy.
The Pope declared that the Americans had done more toward punishing the insolent power of the Mohammedan pirates than all the nations of Europe put together. The Governor of Tripoli was glad to make a new treaty (1805) with the United States. He gave up asking tribute from us, and he agreed to let our merchant ships and sailors alone in future.
215. Our First Step in National Expansion, Purchase of Louisiana Territory, 1803. While this war with Tripoli was going on, the greatest event of Jefferson's presidency occurred. France had recovered possession of the province of Louisiana (1800), including New Orleans (§ 143). Napoleon Bonaparte, who was then about to engage in a tremendous contest with England, was afraid that when war broke out the. English would send over a fleet and take Louisiana out of his hands. For that reason he was willing to sell it to the United States -- especially as the money would help him to fit out his armies against Great Britain. In 1803, the year that Ohio entered the Union, President Jefferson bought the whole territory of Louisiana for $15,000,000. By so doing he got the very heart of the American continent, reaching from the Mississippi back to the Rocky Mountains. He thus, at one stroke, more than
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
doubled the area of the United States, getting nearly 900,000 square miles, or over 560,000,000 acres, for less than three cents an acre. (Map, p. 194.)
There were people who grumbled at the purchase. Some even denied that Jefferson had the right to make it, -- but the majority heartily supported the President. He himself confessed that he had stretched his power "till it cracked," in order to complete the bargain. In reality Jefferson showed his statesmanship in the act. The Purchase of Louisiana did these four things:
1. It prevented disputes with France about the territory.
2. It prevented England from getting control of it.
3. It gave us a large part of the Great West -- that is, all of it beyond the Mississippi to the Rocky Mountains.
4. It made us masters of the entire Mississippi River, with the city of New Orleans to boot.
216. Lewis and Clark's Exploration of the Far West; Our Claim to Oregon. The next year (1804) the President sent out an expedition under Lewis and Clark to explore the new territory. They started from St. Louis (May 14, 1804), then a little village of log cabins, and worked their way, in boats, up the Missouri. About the middle of July (1805) they reached the "Gates of the Rocky Mountains,"1 a long, deep, narrow gorge, through which the river forces its way. This point is over twenty-six hundred miles from St. Louis, and it had taken the explorers more than a year to get to it. With an Indian girl
1 The "Gates of the Rocky Mountains" are near the point where Helena, the capital of Montana, is now situated. A short distance above, the Jefferson, Gallatin, and Madison rivers unite to form the Missouri. Lewis and Clark ascended the Jefferson to its source, crossed the Rocky Mountains, and embarked on a branch of the Snake, or Lewis, River, which flows into the Columbia.
NOTE. 1. Louisiana was part of the country claimed by Spain in 1540 (§§ 21, 22). 2. It was claimed by France in 1686 (§ 131). 3. France ceded it to Spain in 1762 (§ 143). 4. Spain ceded it back to France in 1800 (§ 215). 5. The United States purchased it
from France in 1803 (§ 215).