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Freedom: A History of US.
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Webisode 2: Revolution
Introduction Segment 1 Segment 2 Segment 3 Segment 4 Segment 5 Segment 6 Segment 7 Segment 8 Segment 9

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Thomas Jefferson's Inauguration
Segment 9
Thomas Jefferson, Third President of the United States An Empire for Liberty

The Federalists—who had predicted terrible things for the country from the new president they thought they detested—were surprised. They had forgotten that Thomas Jefferson was a gracious country gentleman with fine taste and a belief in people's natural goodness Check The Source - Jefferson at the White House - An Eyewitness Account by Margaret Bayard Smith. The nation didn't fall apart under a Democratic-Republican administration. But it did change. In 1803, Jefferson bought a huge piece of land; See It Now - An 1802 Map of North America some people thought it extravagant or worthless. It was all the land that France had claimed in North America, and was called Louisiana after a French king—Louis Check The Source - Napolean Decides to Sell Louisiana. The Louisiana Purchase See It Now - The Louisiana Purchase cost $15 million, or about four cents an acre, and it doubled the nation's size. Jefferson said it was a vast new "empire for liberty." He wrote, Hear It Now  - Thomas Jefferson "In seizing [Louisiana I] ... have done an act beyond the Constitution." And in another letter he explained, "But it is incumbent on those ... who accept great charges, to risk themselves on great occasions."

The new land stretched from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains and maybe beyond. No one was sure how far it went. So someone had to find out what had been bought. How big was the territory, what was it like, and where did it end? The West was as unknown to white men in 1803 as most of outer space is today. Jefferson sent an expedition to investigate. To head the expedition he commissioned his shy personal secretary Meriwether Lewis, a dreamer and lover of science, along with a good-natured, talkative soldier and mapmaker, William Clark. They were to explore the vast reaches of the American West. Jefferson wrote: Hear It Now  - Thomas Jefferson "the object of your mission is to explore the Missouri River and the water offering the best communication with the Pacific Ocean.... Your observations are to be taken with great pains and accuracy Check The Source - A Letter to Meriwether Lewis from President Thomas Jefferson."


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Did You Know?
A man named York was an important member of the Lewis and Clark team. York was Clark's black slave. The Indians were awed by York; most have never seen a black man before. Indian warriors often painted their bodies with charcoal as a mark of success in battle. So when they saw strong, charcoal-skinned York they thought him the mightiest of men. York was freed when the expedition returned home. He headed back west and is said to have become chief of an Indian tribe.


Did you know that Freedom is adapted from the award-winning Oxford University Press multi-volume book series, A History of US by Joy Hakim?



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