Featured Primary Sources

The Age of Jefferson and Madison

Nothing can enrich and enliven our understanding of the nation’s past, or dispel apathy about it, more powerfully than primary sources. The primary sources below open up a variety of viewpoints and have been chosen by master teachers specifically for use in the classroom. Affiliate School members can print a packet that includes an image of the document, photograph, or other resource, a transcript where applicable, text to place the document in historical context, and document-based questions. In addition, you may want to search the Gilder Lehrman Collection itself for other resources to enrich your lessons.

A Map of the Louisiana Territory, 1814. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

A map of the Louisiana Territory, 1814

Creator: Meriwether Lewis Curriculum Subjects: Geography, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Grade Levels: 6, 7, 8
Aaron Burr to Joseph Alston, July 20, 1804 (GLC01523)

Aaron Burr, fugitive and traitor, 1804

Creator: Aaron Burr Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
James Monroe to Thomas Rutter, November 13, 1816, on the Quakers’ petition for a

Conscientious objectors: Madison pardons Quakers, 1816

Creator: James Madison and James Monroe Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Thomas Jefferson to James Maury Esq., June 16, 1815. (Gilder Lehrman Collect

Jefferson on British aggression, 1815

Creator: Thomas Jefferson Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
John Adams to Benjamin Rush, November 11, 1807. (GLC00424)

John Adams describes George Washington’s ten talents, 1807

Creator: John Adams Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Timothy Pickering, Speech in favor of the Twelfth Amendment, October 17, 1803 (T

Speech in favor of the Twelfth Amendment, 1803

Creator: Timothy Pickering Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
“A Correct View of the Battle of the Horse-Shoe, March 27th, 1814” (GLC06772)

The Battle of Horseshoe Bend and the end of the Creek War, 1814

Creator: Isaac Stephens Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Angelica Schuyler Church to Philip Schuyler, July 11, 1804. (Gilder Lehrman

The duel: Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, 1804

Creator: Angelica Schuyler Church Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Thomas Jefferson to David Howell, December 15, 1810. (GLC01027)

Thomas Jefferson’s opposition to the Federalists, 1810

Creator: Thomas Jefferson Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:

Primary Sources from Other Sub-Eras

William North’s Recollection, September 18, 1823 (GLC02541.02)

Benedict Arnold’s 1780 treason and the execution of John Andre recalled, 1823

Creator: William North Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
John Adams to George Churchman and Jacob Lindley, January 24, 1801. (Gilder Lehr

John Adams on the abolition of slavery, 1801

Creator: John Adams Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+