Featured Documents

In this section, we feature a small selection of documents from the Papers of Thomas Jefferson, sorted by historical themes and subjects. Each document links to the transcription and annotations from our volumes, publicly available for free on Founders Online.

Accurate transcriptions and clear annotation help a reader to make sense of a document and to understand it in its historical context. For common abbreviations and repository symbols used, see the summary of our editorial method.

To Meriwether Lewis, 4 July 1803

Vol. 40:655-656

Jefferson gives Meriwether Lewis a letter of credit authorizing him to draw on the US government for whatever funds or resources may be needed for a westward exploratory expedition.

Petition of Ambrose Vasse and Others, 17 July 1803

Vol. 41:80-82

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.

From Wilson Cary Nicholas, 3 September 1803

Vol. 41:312-314

After conversing with Jefferson and considering Article 4, Section 3 of the US 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.

To Wilson Cary Nicholas, 7 September 1803

Vol. 41:346-348

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.

To James Monroe, 8 Jan. 1804

Vol. 42:245-251

Jefferson relays news of the purchase of Louisiana as well as social differences between Great Britain and the United States where everyone is to be treated as equals.

To Elbridge Gerry, 3 March 1804

Vol. 42:580

Jefferson informs Gerry that he will seek a second term as president to help consolidate his party's gains and resist the "unbounded calumnies" of diehard Federalists.