At the dawn of the nineteenth century, as Britain, France, Spain, and the United States all jockeyed for control of the vast expanses west of the Mississippi River, the stakes for American expansion were incalculably high. Read more...
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At the dawn of the nineteenth century, as Britain, France, Spain, and the United States all jockeyed for control of the vast expanses west of the Mississippi River, the stakes for American expansion were incalculably high. Even after the American purchase of the Louisiana Territory, Spain still coveted that land and was prepared to employ any means to retain it. With war expected at any moment, Jefferson played a game of strategy, putting on the ground the only Americans he could: a cadre of explorers who finally annexed it through courageous investigation.
Responsible for orchestrating the American push into the continent was President Thomas Jefferson. He most famously recruited Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, who led the Corps of Discovery to the Pacific, but at the same time there were other teams who did the same work, in places where it was even more crucial. William Dunbar, George Hunter, Thomas Freeman, Peter Custis, and the dauntless Zebulon Pike all were dispatched on urgent missions to map the frontier and keep up a steady correspondence with Washington about their findings.
But they weren t always well-matched with each other and certainly not with a Spanish army of a thousand soldiers or more. These tensions threatened to undermine Jefferson s goals for the nascent country, leaving the United States in danger of losing its foothold in the West. Deeply researched and inspiringly told, "Jefferson s America" rediscovers the robust and often harrowing action from these seminal expeditions and illuminates the president s vision for a continental America."
- ISBN-13: 9780307956484
- ISBN-10: 0307956482
- Publisher: Crown Publishing Group (NY)
- Publish Date: May 2016
- Page Count: 432
- Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-03-28
- Reviewer: Staff
Fenster (FDR’s Shadow), a specialist in 19th-century American history, details the political strategies behind President Thomas Jefferson’s decision to dispatch teams of explorers to the vast lands west of the Mississippi River. During Jefferson’s administration, the U.S. confronted major threats from the global superpowers of that time—Britain, Spain, and France—all of whom wished to carve up the weak, newly independent nation. A major part of Jeffersonian strategy consisted of using citizen explorers—most of whom were personally recruited old friends and outlaws, including Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, George Hunter, William Dunbar, Thomas Freeman, Peter Custis, and Zebulon Pike—to take possession of the newly acquired Louisiana Territory. By avoiding the burden of deploying of a large military force to the territory, Jefferson skirted political opposition and found a means to “absorb” the West without provoking the European powers. The dangerous expeditions were plagued with disease, attacks by Native Americans, natural disasters, crew mutinies, and peril from rival nations. Fenster skillfully profiles the “Men of Jefferson” who were selected to spearhead the exploration efforts, but it’s the wily, resourceful Jefferson who steals the show with his ambitious vision, ability to gauge foreign opposition, and advantageous use of the federal treasury to support his missions. Agent: Joëlle Delbourgo, Joëlle Delbourgo Associates. (May)