One of the founding fathers and writer of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson was a key figure in the writing and rhetoric of the Revolutionary period. However, please don’t think that his contributions stopped after 1776! Jefferson plays a vital role in the era of Expansionism that followed the Revolution, securing the purchase of the Louisiana Territories and commissioning the exploration of Lewis and Clarke. Jefferson was also aware of the key issues of conflict arising in American in its early infancy – the effect that changes to the banking and the economic system were having on Americans and American ideals, the conflict between Americans and the country’s Native inhabitants, and the ongoing moral struggle of the legality of slavery.

In the follow document you will find three letters from Jefferson spanning 1785 to 1821, addressing the issues above. As you read and analyze these documents consider the following questions –

  • What is Jefferson’s approach to addressing the issues of American expansionism?
  • How does Jefferson feel about the conflict with the Native Americans?
  • What is Jefferson’s opinion on slavery, and the effect it will have on the new nation?

Click here to read the letters from Jefferson to Chastellux, John Adams and Merriweather Clarke.

You will write a timed constructed response in class over the following prompt, grading using the GADOE 2 points rubric:

How does Jefferson’s authorial voice change from 1776 to 1812, and why would this change happen? Cite evidence from the text to explain your answer.