Jefferson on British aggression, 1815

A primary source by Thomas Jefferson
Resource type: 
Primary Source
Year of Resource: 
1815
Creator: 
Thomas Jefferson
Synopsis: 

In this letter in defense of American nationalism, Thomas Jefferson denounced members of the British House of Lords who blamed the War of 1812 on US aggression. 

Thomas Jefferson to James Maury Esq., June 16, 1815. (GLC09077)

Thomas Jefferson to James Maury Esq., June 16, 1815. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)
Thomas Jefferson to James Maury Esq., June 16, 1815. (GLC09077)
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George Washington’s reluctance to become president, 1789

A primary source by George Washington
Resource type: 
Primary Source
Primary Sub Era: 
Year of Resource: 
1789
Creator: 
George Washington
Synopsis: 

In April 1789, George Washington wrote to his friend Henry Knox about his reluctance to become President of the United States.

George Washington to Henry Knox, April 1, 1789. (Gilder Lehrman Collection, From 1787 to 1789, as the Constitution was submitted for ratification by the states, most Americans assumed that George Washington would be the first president.

Inline body image(s): 
George Washington, by Rembrandt Peale, ca. 1852 (GLC09119.01)
George Washington to Henry Knox, April 1, 1789. (GLC02437.09419)
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A map of the Louisiana Territory, 1814

A primary source by Meriwether Lewis
Resource type: 
Primary Source
Year of Resource: 
1814
Creator: 
Meriwether Lewis
Synopsis: 

The Lewis and Clark expedition returned to Missouri in September 1806 with valuable maps of the Louisiana Territory. After Lewis’s death in 1809, Clark took responsibility for organizing and releasing the expedition journals to eager scientists and curious Americans.

A Map of the Louisiana Territory, 1814. (Gilder Lehrman Collection) The 1803 Louisiana Purchase from France during Thomas Jefferson’s first term as president more than doubled the size of the United States.

Inline body image(s): 
A Map of the Louisiana Territory, 1814. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)
A Map of the Louisiana Territory, 1814. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)
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George Washington on the abolition of slavery, 1786

A primary source by George Washington
Resource type: 
Primary Source
Primary Sub Era: 
Year of Resource: 
1786
Creator: 
George Washington
Synopsis: 

Washington gradually came to realize that slavery was immoral and contrary to the Revolutionary ideals of liberty and equality. Although he never spoke out publicly against the institution, he did express his objections privately in this letter to John Mercer in 1786.

George Washington to John Francis Mercer, September 9, 1786. (Gilder LehrmanOf the nine presidents who were slaveholders, only George Washington freed all his own slaves upon his death.

Inline body image(s): 
"Life of George Washington--The farmer,"  by Jumius Brutus Stearns (LOC)
George Washington to John Francis Mercer, September 9, 1786. (Gilder Lehrman
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Two versions of the Preamble to the Constitution, 1787

A primary source by Constitutional Convention
Resource type: 
Primary Source
Primary Sub Era: 
Year of Resource: 
1787
Creator: 
Constitutional Convention
Synopsis: 

The two different preambles to the US Constitution illustrate the new view of a united nation that emerged in the last weeks of the Constitutional Convention.

On May 25, 1787, the fifty-five delegates to the Constitutional Convention began meeting in a room, no bigger than a large schoolroom, in Philadelphia’s State House. They posted sentries at the doors and windows to keep their “secrets from flying out.” They barred the press and public, and took a vow not to reveal to anyone the words spoken there. There were speeches of two, three, and four hours. The convention, which lasted four months, took only a single eleven-day break.

Inline body image(s): 
Constitution [printing of first draft] [Committee of Detail], August 6, 1787.
Constitution. Printed Dunlap & Claypoole edition inscribed to Jonathan Williams,
Constitution [printing of first draft] [Committee of Detail], August 6, 1787.
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Carte de la Louisiane et du cours du Mississipi, 1718

A primary source by Guillaume De l’Isle
Resource type: 
Primary Source
Primary Sub Era: 
Year of Resource: 
1718
Creator: 
Guillaume De l’Isle
Synopsis: 

This map of “la Louisiane,” published by French geographer Guillaume de l’Isle, is the first detailed map of the Gulf Coast region and the Mississippi River, as well as the first printed map to show Texas and identify New Orleans.

Carte de la Louisiane et du cours du Mississippi [map of North America], by Guil

Carte de la Louisiane et du cours du Mississippi [map of North America], by Guil
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Henry Knox’s Order of March to Trenton, 1776

A primary source by Henry Knox
Resource type: 
Primary Source
Primary Sub Era: 
Year of Resource: 
1776
Creator: 
Henry Knox
Synopsis: 

This copy of Washington’s orders for the Battle of Trenton, with a map of Trenton drawn on the back, belonged to Henry Knox, chief artillery officer, and was written in his own hand. Also presented here is Knox’s firsthand account of the battle, in a letter written to his wife Lucy on December 28.

Henry Knox, Order of march to Trenton, December 26, 1776 (Gilder Lehrman Collection)On Christmas Day in 1776 the American Revolution was on the verge of collapsing.

Inline body image(s): 
The Passage of the Delaware, by Thomas Sully, 1819 (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston,
Henry Knox, Order of march to Trenton, December 26, 1776 (Gilder Lehrman Collect
Henry Knox to Lucy Knox, December 28, 1776 (Gilder Lehrman Collection)
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Paul Revere’s engraving of the Boston Massacre, 1770

A primary source by Paul Revere
Resource type: 
Primary Source
Primary Sub Era: 
Year of Resource: 
1770
Creator: 
Paul Revere
Synopsis: 

Produced just three weeks after the Boston Massacre, Paul Revere’s historic engraving,“The Bloody Massacre in King-Street,”  was probably the most effective piece of war propaganda in American history.

Paul Revere, “The Bloody Massacre in King-Street, March 5, 1770.” Boston, 1770. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

Paul Revere, “The Bloody Massacre in King-Street, March 5, 1770.” Boston, 1770.
Paul Revere, “The Bloody Massacre in King-Street, March 5, 1770.” Boston, 1770.
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A Jamestown settler describes life in Virginia, 1622

A primary source by Sebastian Brandt
Resource type: 
Primary Source
Primary Sub Era: 
Year of Resource: 
1622
Creator: 
Sebastian Brandt
Synopsis: 

This 1622 letter from Jamestown colonist Sebastian Brandt to Henry Hovener, a Dutch merchant living in London, provides a snapshot of the colony in flux.

Sebastian Brandt to Henry Hovener, January 13, 1622. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)The first English settlers in Jamestown, Virginia, who arrived in 1607, were eager to find gold and silver. Instead they found sickness and disease.

Inline body image(s): 
Detail of Jamestown from 1624 map of Virginia engraved by William Hole. (LOC)
Sebastian Brandt to Henry Hovener, January 13, 1622. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)
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Late seventeenth-century map of the Northeast, 1682

A primary source by Nicholas Visscher
Resource type: 
Primary Source
Primary Sub Era: 
Year of Resource: 
1682
Creator: 
Nicholas Visscher
Synopsis: 

This map, made by Nicholas Visscher and printed in 1682, depicts not only the former Dutch holdings of New Amsterdam (which had been taken over by the British), but also New England and New Jersey.

Novi Belgi Novaeque Angliae [New Netherland and New England], 1682.Like many other explorers, Henry Hudson stumbled upon North America almost by accident.

Inline body image(s): 
Novi Belgi Novaeque Angliae [New Netherland and New England], 1682.
Novi Belgi Novaeque Angliae [New Netherland and New England], 1682.
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