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Era Introduction - What Were Jefferson’s Reasons For Wanting to Explore the West?

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson had been interested in exploring the west well before the 1803 Louisiana Purchase from France. During the 1780's and 1790's, he championed a few failed attempts at such an exploration. Believing the United States needed to expand west to help ensure its survival and prosperity, he jumped at the chance to buy Louisiana from France’s Napoleon Bonaparte. Plans were immediately made to explore the new acquisition and establish American claims to the vast region, an area which effectively doubled the size of the United States. Aside from obvious political reasons, Jefferson, as a child of the Enlightenment ,was an immensely inquisitive individual. The exploration would provide a wealth of information on everything from flora and fauna to geography to the inhabitants.

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