Exploration of the Far West | U.S. Elections
Exploration of the Far WestThe Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of the United States, but Americans did not really know what they had bought. In 1804, Thomas Jefferson sent an expedition led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to investigate the new territories. Lewis and Clark's party, with their Shoshone guide Sacajawea, traveled up the Missouri River from St. Louis, reached the Pacific coast and returned with a wealth of information. In 1806, Lieutenant Zebulon Pike led a similar expedition into the southwest. As this map demonstrates, the explorers that traveled the far West encountered rough terrain, harsh weather, disease, and hunger as they followed the waterways of the region. As reports trickled in, it became clear that United States had gained lands inhabited by a diverse combination of Native Americans, animals and plant life. These new areas captured the imagination of the American public. Indeed, in the main foyer of Thomas Jefferson's grand Monticello, visitors were greeted with animal skins, skulls and other artifacts given to him by Lewis and Clark.
How did the voyage of Lewis and Clark help create interest in the western expansion of the United States? What did they find that would draw settlers west? Who did they influence to help the United States pursue a policy of expansion?
Why did the Federalists oppose the Louisiana Purchase and westward expansion in general? Compare and contrast the Federalist and Jeffersonian vision of the future United States? Which vision triumphed in the end?
What were the direct and indirect causes of the Louisiana Purchase? What factors led France to sell the territory? What beliefs made the Jefferson administration interested in buying the land? Why was New Orleans considered a particularly important possession?
What was the role of Native Americans in the journeys of Lewis and Clark? How was their exploration different from the way Native Americans had navigated these same lands for centuries? What new technology and techniques did Lewis and Clark bring to the task?
U.S. ElectionsThomas Jefferson won the Presidency in 1800 in what has been called a political revolution for the new Republic. The election was the first in which two parties faced one another in a presidential election, and demonstrated that Americans could peacefully change their government through the electoral process. Jefferson, after narrowly defeating John Adams in the electoral college, pledged in his inaugural address to unite the country, "We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists." The two-party system that was born in this election persists until the present. This interative map details the elections and their results from 1789-2000 including candidates, electoral votes, and popular votes.
The election of Thomas Jefferson brought to power a new political party, the Democratic-Republicans. Was this party a national organization, representing the U.S. as a whole, or sectional party, representing only the South? What evidence is there for each position?
Why did a two-party system arise in the election of 1800? What effect did this system have on American political history? Was this a healthy or unhealthy development for American political life?
Write a diary as an observer from France in the United States during the Election of 1800. What are your views of the election? What do you think the election reveals about American political life? Compare America's peaceful transition to Democratic-Republican rule with political life in post-revolutionary France? How do you explain the differences?
explore our Web site. To report a technical problem with this Web site, please contact the