Jeffersonianism and Early Expansionism

  1. Foundations of Expansionism (Jefferson/Republican view)

    1. Yeoman farmer

      1. Virtuous citizen

      2. Independent

      3. Contrasted this with English (enclosure, rented land, urbanization)

    2. Frontier

      1. America's Utopia

      2. The place for the common man

      3. Conquering the frontier a sign of our worth

    3. A large republic is a necessary good

      1. Desire to create a large agrarian democracy

      2. Less hierarchical, less dominated by entrenched East Coast merchants

      3. This would reduce corruption and increase opportunity of equality (they hoped)

  2. Westward expansion

    1. Victories over Indians in 1790s opens West for large scale migration

    2. Weakens all forms of hierarchy

      1. Children leave parents

      2. Church members leave churches

      3. Tenant farmers leave their landlords

      4. Journeymen leave their masters

    3. Pushed along by population growth

      1. 4 million in 1790; 5.3 million in 1800; 9.6 million in 1820

      2. Soil exhaustion and ever smaller subdivided farms pushes people west

  3. Government policy

    1. Land Ordinance and Northwest Ordinance (under the Articles) fosters migration

    2. Louisiana Purchase

      1. Doubles size of country

      2. Napoleon had dreamed of an American empire

      3. But malaria destroyed his army in Haiti

      4. Meanwhile, closure of New Orleans to American ships brought rumors of war

      5. Jefferson sent James Madison to France to negotiate possible purchase of New Orleans from France

      6. Napoleon needed money badly, offered whole of Louisiana Territory - for $15 million

      7. Jefferson worried about constitutionality, but eager to get territory

    3. Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804-1805)

      1. Americans knew nothing of this territory

      2. Little known to any Europeans - even the French who supposedly owned it

      3. Meriwether Lewis commissioned by Jefferson to explore territory and search for water route to Pacific

      4. Took on William Clark as his number 2

      5. Returned with valuable scientific and strategic knowledge

      6. Convinced many of the long-range potential of this country

  4. Conflict with the British
    1. Napoleonic Wars (1796-1815) become a worldwide contest for power between France and England
    2. Neither France nor England really concerned about what USA thinks
    3. Conflict on the Sea
      1. France's power is on continent of Europe, England more powerful at sea
      2. U.S. a weak sea power - Jefferson didn't think we needed a strong navy
      3. USA claimed neutral right in French-English conflict - right to trade non-military goods with either side
      4. England interpreted international law to squeeze France, cut France off from trade
      5. Napoleon wanted to seal off England from trade
      6. Both sides seized US ships, but English practices impressments, taking people off US ships and forcing them into British Navy
      7. Long war left British short-handed - wound up impressing 10 to 20 thousand American sailors
    4. Embargo Act, 1807
      1. Jefferson got congress to embargo both England and France - no US ships could go to either country
      2. Doesn't work
        1. Smugglers stepped in, and English and French ships could still come here
        2. Absolutely hated by Northern merchants, put many people out of work
        3. Only hurt American business - we're too poor to have much impact on European powers