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Learn About the Jefferson Era

Between 1800 and 1815, the Jeffersonian Republicans nearly doubled the size of the country by purchasing Louisiana Territory from France; defeated powerful Indian confederations in the Northwest and South, opening the area north of the Ohio River as well as southern and western Alabama to white settlement; and--to protect American shipping and seamen, clear westerns lands of Indians, and preserve national honor--once again waged war with Britain, fighting the world's strongest power to a stalemate. In addition, the Supreme Court established the principle of judicial review, which enables the courts to review the constitutionality of federal laws and invalidate acts of Congress when they conflict with the Constitution.

The Jeffersonian era was rife with conflict, partisan passion, and larger-than-life personalities. On the domestic front, a new party, the Republicans, came to office for the first time and a former vice president was charged with treason. Pirates, operating from bases on the coast of North Africa, harassed enslaved American sailors, and Britain and France interfered with American shipping. Finally, the United States fought a second war for independence against Britain.

Learn more about the Jefferson era.
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"We have the wolf by the ears & feel the danger of holding or letting loose"
Thomas Jefferson to Lydia Sigourney, 1824
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More documents in the our collection.
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Handouts and fact sheets:

War of 1812

Recommended lesson plan:

Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery, PBS
http://www.pbs.org/lewisandclark/class/idx_les.html
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Quizzes:

Quiz on Jeffersonian Era, Answers to the Quiz on the Jeffersonian Era
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Recommended books:

Henry Adams, The United States in 1800
The grandson and great-grandson of presidents, Henry Adams examines the nature of American society at the dawn of the nineteenth century.

Drew McCoy, The Elusive Republic: Political Economy in Jeffersonian America

Recommended film:

Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery (1997)
A two-part documentary directed by Ken Burns that examines the expedition of Meriweather Lewis and William Clark and American society in the early 19th century.
http://www.pbs.org/lewisandclark/index.html
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The Buccaneers (1938, 1958) A fanciful tale of pirate Jean Lafitte joining forces with General Andrew Jackson to defeat the British at the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812.

The Fighting Kentuckian (1949) In Alabama in 1818, Kentucky militiaman John Breen, played by John Wayne falls in love with a French exile and discovers a plot to steal the land her fellow exiles plan to settle on.

John Paul Jones (1959) Hollywood biopic about the American naval hero of the War of 1812.

Old Ironsides (1926) The story of the famous War of 1812 battleship.

Recommended Website:

Monticello
This site contains biographical information about Jefferson, about Jefferson's views on slavery, and a guide to the controversy surrounding Jefferson and Sally Hemings.
http://www.monticello.org/
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Learn more online: Read transcripts of interviews with leading authorities on Thomas Jefferson, including Joseph Ellis, John Hope Franklin, and Garry Wills
http://www.pbs.org/jefferson/archives/interviews/frame.htm

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