Requests for Information Related to Thomas Jefferson


>Napoleon's decision to sell the Louisiana Purchase to the United 	
>States--to include any publications, articles, readings of 	
>Thomas Jefferson on the decision to purchase it and his thoughts on
>I am doing reseach on the above statement, I would appreciate
>your insight and any reference material, reading, www sites that
>I could use.

A very interesting topic!  I have not run across a www site that deals with
this specifically, though you might try running "Louisian Purchase"
through the standard search engines (Yahoo, Infoseek, Excite, etc.) and
see what you find.  There is one chapter of one of my own sites that
contains some information on the LP.  See the chapter on the LP in:

        Life of Thomas Jefferson, by B. L. Rayner

I know of one or two other sites that *should* have something, but I'm
not sure that they do.  Nevertheless, if they do, it will turn up in your
search.  Similarly, there must be a ton of reading material that you could
find through the catalog of any good library.  Remember: every
biography of Jefferson will probably have at least a chapter on the LP.

My own Jefferson quotes website focuses on Jefferson's political
principles as revealed in his writings, so that any quotations I would
have related to the Louisiana Purchase would be with respect to the
principles involved, not the historical facts alone.  If you wanted a
broader look at Jefferson's writings on the subject, I would suggest going
to a large library (public, university) and looking at the "Writings of
Thomas Jefferson," Lipscomb and Bergh, editors -- the "Memorial
Edition" -- and checking the index volume, vol. 20.  There are two
columns of references under "Napoleon."

As I say, my interest in TJ's writings are not really historical, but I just got
through reading his letters in the Memorial Edition related to the
Louisiana Purchase, and there were a couple of things that struck me.
Jefferson, of course, thought Napoleon was a monster, bathing Europe
in blood, etc.  Apparently, Napoleon was the early 19th century
equivalent of Hitler, and it is surprising the extent to which we tend now
to honor and admire Napoleon, especially down here in New Orleans,
where we have Napoleon Ave. and the Napoleon House Bar, etc., where
no one would think of having Hitler Ave., etc.  According to the Rayner
biorgraphy of TJ (chapter: At Home in Monticello), Jefferson had a bust
of Napoleon and Alexander (tsar of Russia) on either side of the entry in

The other interesting fact that I (a non-historian) had not previously run
across was that Jefferson thought it was absolutely imperative that the
U.S., by purchase or whatever, gain control of New Orleans and the
Mississippi River in order to avoid conflicts that he thought would almost
certainly lead to eventual war with France.  This was because so much
of the produce of the western part of the U.S. needed to go down the
Mississippi, and having a seaport for transferring the goods to ocean
going vessels was indispensable.  Thus, besides just the enlargement of
territory at a very cheap price, it was also a preventive measure which
compelled Jefferson to go ahead, even though he realized the purchase
was outside his constitutional authority.

I hope that helps some.  It is a giant topic, more proper for a book than a
paper.  But you might either survey it, or focus on one special aspect,
such as the avoidance of conflict which was so important to Jefferson, in
order to keep it to manageable size.

Good luck,

Eyler Coates


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