Jefferson didn’t buy the Louisiana Territory merely because it was for sale. He felt strongly that if New Orleans remained in foreign control, it would be a danger to the United States, which was barely 15 years old:
There is on the globe one single spot the possessor of which is our natural and habitual enemy. It is New Orleans, through which the produce of three-eighths of our territory must pass to market, and from its fertility it will ere long yield more than half of our whole produce and contain more than half of our inhabitants. ... [T]he impetuosity of [France's] temper, the energy and restlessness of her character placed in a point of eternal friction with us and our character, which, though quiet, and loving peace and the pursuit of wealth, is high-minded, despising wealth in competition with insult or injury, enterprising and energetic as any nation on earth; these circumstances render it impossible that France and the United States can continue long friends when they meet in so irritable a position. – Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Robert Livingston, 4/18/1802We’re so used to thinking of the Louisiana Purchase as a huge amount of land that it’s strange to remember the details of it had to be written out, like any other transaction between governments. Here’s the gorgeous binding of the National Archives copy of the agreement to pay 60 million francs to France.
Favorite Quotes from Thomas Jefferson
We are not to expect to be translated from despotism to liberty in a featherbed. -- Letter to the Marquis de Lafayette, 4/2/1790
Jefferson and Pulitzer
Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World vied with Hearst's New York Journal to be the most sensational paper in New York (see Maine Monument). Pulitzer (1847-1911) left funds for a statue of Jefferson to be erected in City Hall Park, as a companion piece to Nathan Hale. But MacMonnies didn’t want his work to be one of a pair, so Jefferson was eventually erected in front of Columbia’s School of Journalism, which was also funded by a Pulitzer bequest.
Jefferson asserted that "Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost," but he also remarked that "The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers."
Copyright (c) 2013 Dianne L. Durante