The Zeal for Land

Thomas Jefferson, portrayed as Vice President.

Thomas Jefferson, from his earliest years, imagined that all of the North American land known in the 1790s would one day belong to the United States. He imagined that Florida would become part of the United States, that Cuba would join, that Mexico’s provinces would join, and that ultimately, Canada would join as well. Gordon Wood, Empire of Liberty, 376.

Some may see this as an imperialistic tendency. It was. Jefferson stated that “we should have such an empire for liberty as she has never surveyed since the creation.” Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, April 27, 1809. He strongly believed that “no constitution was ever before so well calculated as ours for extensive empire and self government.” Id.

Jefferson long had a passion for expansion, pre-dating both his presidency and his vice-presidency. Almost immediately after the Revolutionary War, Jefferson began planning how this vast area of land could benefit the United States and how it could be explored.

Ultimately, this led to the monumental exploration of the Louisiana Territory by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, which would captivate the nation and spread the expansion fever.

Jefferson’s firmly held belief that the Louisiana Purchase and its territory would become America’s is one of the best examples of firm leadership guiding the nation’s people toward a common goal that benefits all. The best presidents did not always have unanimous support in their decisions, but history cherishes and fondly remembers those presidents, like Jefferson.

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