Denise Baker

Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Lowell Harrison, Francis Thompson, James Bennett

Degree Program

Department of History

Degree Type

Master of Arts


From his childhood on the fringe of the Virginia frontier until his years of retirement at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson displayed a special interest in the vast expanse of land stretching westward. The land provided the ideal place for the expansion of Jefferson’s dream of an American empire for liberty. He viewed the continent as the home of an agrarian nation living under the principles of democracy.

Chapter one is introductory in nature, linking Jefferson’s ideals to his interest in the West. Chapter two concentrates on his early contributions to the West. Emphasis is placed on land speculation, the western land cession, and Jefferson’s plan for a territorial government. Chapter three deals with Jefferson and the western questions developing from the peace negotiations of 1783: the unrestricted navigation of the Mississippi River and conflicts concerning the Northwest Territory. Chapter four covers the exploration of the West and the acquisition of Louisiana. Chapters are developed along topical lines. Into these broad, familiar areas are incorporated other related ideas and issues that reveal Jefferson’s views of both the trans-Allegheny West and the trans-Mississippi West.


American Politics | Arts and Humanities | History | Political History | Political Science | Social and Behavioral Sciences | United States History