During our nation’s early years, Thomas Jefferson was considerably very important to the history and growth of the United States. Born on April 13, 1743 in Shadwell, Virginia Jefferson was noted for his heavily involvement in the United States (U.S.) government. Jefferson served as a representative in the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1769 then eventually got a seat in the Second Continental Congress in 1775. From there was when Jefferson had presented and submitted his draft of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson returned to Virginia where he became the governor in 1779, later “in 1785 he succeeded Franklin as minister to France.”1 Then in 1789, Jefferson would become Secretary of State where he “was chiefly engaged in fruitless negotiations with the European powers”2 Finally, Jefferson became President of the U.S. on March 4, 1801, until 1809. Although Jefferson’s decisions on enacting the 1807 December Embargo act and cutting funds to the U.S. Army and Navy were unsuccessful and ultimately backfired, his negotiation with the French on the Louisiana Purchase and his funding for the expedition of the Lewis and Clarke expedition overall outshined the negatives, I consider the presidency of Thomas Jefferson to have been a success.
In the year 1801, the French had secured their territory of Louisiana from Spain; this affected the U.S. when a restriction was imposed on American trade in the port of New Orleans. In response, the Jefferson administration sought to negotiate a deal with the French in order to purchase New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. French Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte was on the verge of war with the British and knew that he would not be able to defend the Louisiana territory so instead of just offering New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, he offered the entire Louisiana territory. “The agreement itself required the United States to pay $11.5 million and to forgive $3.5 million in French debts.”3 The citizens of the U.S. were ecstatic to see their nation grow and more importantly “the Purchase had achieved a peaceful settlement.”4 his dream and the citizen’s dreams of expansion, of Manifest Destiny was in our nation’s minds and was our long time goal, to which Jefferson was making the necessary steps to secure.
President Jefferson was not perfect; he made some decisions that had a negative effect on the U.S. such as the Embargo in 1807. Due to the chaos from the Napoleonic Wars in the Atlantic, American ships were getting caught in the crossfire and their neutrality was doing nothing to ease the conflicts.” Finally there appeared to be no escape from war except by withdrawing from the oceans.”5 In December of 1807 a total Embargo was placed on all outgoing sea commerce, the Embargo failed to do what it was intended for, “to bring Britain or France to justice,”6 instead it had only backfired on the U.S. economy until it was finally repealed by congress. A way to have prevented or have protected themselves more would have been easier if Thomas Jefferson had not scaled down and cut funding to the Army and Navy of the U.S. during this time. It left the U.S. merchant ships vulnerable to being destroyed or being stolen by the British and French. These decisions had caused a damaging effect on the U.S. economy and were overall very destructive to our growing nation.
Another perk to gaining the territory of Louisiana was the opportunity to explore what exactly the U.S. had gotten. Jefferson “asked Congress for authorization and funding of $2,500 for an expedition to explore the Missouri River to its source in the Rocky Mountains, and then down the nearest westward-flowing stream to the Pacific.”7 Jefferson picked his private secretary, Captain Meriwether Lewis and Lewis asked for permission to bring his friend William Clark to lead this expedition along with several recruits. The goals of the expedition were more than just exploration, “They were instructed to…