• Thomas Jefferson and New Lands

    Thomas Jefferson believed that a strong, free nation could only be maintained by strong, free people. For centuries in Europe, most people had belonged to a class system. Peasants worked on farms or in factories for a few people who owned most of the land and wealth. Peasants had little hope of changing their situation and were dependent on the wealthy for their survival.

    Jefferson believed that by expanding the country, more people could own farms and lands, allowing even the poorest to improve their circumstances through hard work. He was very anxious to expand the United States to include more area.

    Fun Facts about Thomas Jefferson
    Fun Facts about Thomas Jefferson

    Fun Facts

    • Kentucky became a state in 1792; Tennessee, in 1796. Ohio became a state in 1803.
    • French emperor, Napoleon, wanted to build an empire in North America starting with a naval base on the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean Sea. Toussaint Louverture led an army of free blacks and slaves against Napoleon. This revolution discouraged Napoleon from his original plans.
    • In 1803, Thomas Jefferson and the Senate approved a plan to buy the Louisiana Territory for $15 million from France. The purchase doubled the United States’ land area, adding about 800,000 square miles of land. More importantly, it guaranteed control of the Mississippi River to the U.S., which Thomas Jefferson believed was necessary for the country’s security. This became known as the Louisiana Purchase.
    • As the country expanded, farmers needed a way to get their crops to the east to sell. The fastest way to ship their goods was to float them down the Mississippi River on barges to New Orleans. From there, they could be shipped to the east or even across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe.


    1. Peasant: a poor farmer or laborer of a low social class
    2. Expand: to enlarge
    3. Security: safety

    Question and Answer

    Question: How many people lived in the Louisiana Territory when it was purchased by the U.S.?

    Answer: About 200,000 people were living in the Louisiana Territory at the time of the purchase. Most of them were American Indians, Spanish, and French.

    Learn More

    Visit Discover Kids to learn more about the Louisiana Purchase.


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