Selected Documents

Some Connecticut merchants challenge the removal of a Federalist collector at New Haven and the subsequent appointment of a Republican whom they deemed inadequately qualified for the position. They interpret Jefferson's inaugural address as implying presidential appointments would be merit-based without regard to party.
Jefferson gives Meriwether Lewis a letter of credit authorizing him to draw on the U.S. government for whatever funds or resources may be needed for a westward exploratory expedition.
Jefferson clarifies misunderstandings over his removal policies, acknowledging the burden of presidential appointments and the reality of political parties.
After conversing with Jefferson and considering Article 4, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution, Nicholas argues that no amendment is necessary for the acquisition of Louisiana. He advises the president against issuing a public opinion that an amendment is needed.
Jefferson comments on the "dreadful operation" he must perform in finding offices for members of his party who feel that they had been denied jobs and influence in previous administrations.
Although Jefferson maintains that a “safe & precise” interpretation would require amending the Constitution before adding new territory to the union, he gives up his insistence on an amendment for Louisiana.
The Danbury Baptists congratulate the new president and express their belief in religious liberty as a matter between God and individuals.
A merchant whose store was broken into (but nothing stolen) and 51 other residents of Alexandria petition the president for clemency for Samuel Miller, a journeyman shoemaker who has been sentenced to death for the burglary.
Jefferson sends his cabinet members his thoughts on "the mode & degrees of communication" by which the business of government should be conducted, taking as his model the administrative example of George Washington.
Jefferson wrote these resolves to challenge the constitutionality of the Alien and Sedition Acts and suggested the possibility of a state's authority to nullify federal law.
Jefferson solicits congressional support for extending external commerce, especially by funding an exploration of the Missouri River and the territory beyond it. He suggests an appropriation of $2,500 to advance "the geographical knowledge of our own continent" and to find a route to the Pacific Ocean.
Jefferson expresses his political creed in this statement of republican principles with his unifying and conciliatory exhortation, "we are all republicans: we are all federalists."
Jefferson's opinions on education and the improvability of the human mind are expressed in this letter to a young student who asked his advice on a proper course of study.
Jefferson relies on his French friend to help maintain peaceful relations between the United States and France, informs him of James Monroe's appointment as a special envoy, and stresses the importance of the Mississippi and the American right of deposit at New Orleans.
Jefferson wrote this letter as a private citizen expressing his criticism of the Federalist party. Its subsequent unauthorized publication, often appearing out of context, haunted him for the rest of his life.
Jefferson is informed of the electoral tie between him and fellow Republican candidate Aaron Burr. The selection of the next president will be determined by vote in the House of Representatives.
Jefferson's granddaughter accepts his invitation to become a correspondent, requests he send a French dictionary, and updates him on the schooling of her siblings.
Jefferson updates his friends in Virginia on the suspenseful electoral impasse after repeated balloting in the House of Representatives. Not until the 36th ballot taken five days later did Jefferson know he had been selected the next president of the United States.
A long-time friend freely communicates her sentiments, offers her opinions on John Adams, and congratulates Jefferson on his election as president.
Jefferson responds to his granddaughter's request for a French dictionary and his grandson's wish for a book of geography.
Editor Julian P. Boyd noted the "transcendent importance of this charter of national liberties," the most famous document drafted by Jefferson.
A Connecticut gentleman cautions Jefferson that both political parties expect to share in the plums of political appointment.
Jefferson actively participates in the landscape design of the federal city, offering suggestions on the best placement of trees along Pennsylvania Avenue.
Jefferson's response to the Danbury Baptists is a classic expression on the place of religion in American civil society with its invocation of a "wall of separation between church and state."
In his reply to Boardman, Jefferson offers no comment on political appointments, but acknowledges receipt of a sermon on religious freedom and articulates the rights of conscience.
Jefferson intends to draw up an outline comparing the doctrines of Jesus with those of other moral philosophers.