Saturday, March 28, 2015

Th Jefferson

George, Tom, Teddy and Abe
In looking at the times and people surrounding the settlement of the Whitewater Valley, not much about it can't be attributed to Thomas Jefferson.

He's the guy on the nickel.

And the $2 bill, which most people think is counterfeit. Lincoln is the guy on the $20 bill, in case you are confused about presidents and money. A zero, here and there.

Jefferson is credited with having penned the Declaration of Independence, which you will see on the wall at the public library and in selected baseball stadiums that have $1 hot dog nights. The "D of I" was written in 1776 and propelled Jefferson to rock-star status among the Founding Fathers.

In 1801, when TJ was eventually elected president just ahead of the invention of the nickel, he began to see a need to expand the American footprint. Jefferson actually abhorred a large federal government but had seen the need to make the one he governed grow in size.

Jefferson was no dummy. He had experienced -- as an ambassador under President Washington -- the French Revolution and what came after that. France was basically broke, and Jefferson knew it. He knew the French would take cash for about 828,000 square miles of land it owned in America. In 1803, he agreed to the Louisiana Purchase, even though the transaction was unconstitutional. In effect, the U.S.A. bought St. Louis and Laramie illegally. Such a deal at about 4 cents an acre.

The details of all that are mind-boggling.

Jefferson's agenda took hold in 1801, the year he was elected to replace his old buddy, John Adams, who later invented a Yuppie brand of overrated beer.

Louisiana Purchase (the green part)
The Americans had already captured the area known as the Northwest Territory, getting it from the native tribes. Actually the tribes didn't actually own it, but they lived on it and that was enough. It included Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and some place near Chicago.

In 1795, Mad Anthony Wayne won the great fight and forced the Indians to draw the line for the Treaty of Greenville. By 1798, the government was making plans to settle it.

This is how Jefferson gets in on the play. His vision of taking the land, making America huge and powerful ... again, contradictory to his disdain for a large federal government. Jefferson was a bit confused about some of his ideas, most historians agree.

Men like Robert Hanna, Robert Templeton, George Leviston, Robert Swan, William Logan ... for divergent reasons, bought into the principle that settling the Northwest Territory was a good idea. Jefferson, it seemed, believed that more white settlers in the territory would allow for commerce, which would lead to more settlers, who would create states -- and grow the federal government.

It worked.

Jefferson, who claimed he hated slavery, owned 200 slaves. He claimed he hated that the French royalty had abused the French peasants, and he figuratively and literally ran the native Indians off the land they had owned for centuries.

The Jeffersonian ideal of westward expansion was connected to his belief that if the whites of the East controlled the West, that the Louisiana Purchase would be a cake-walk.

The Americans got everything from the Mississippi River to Mount Rushmore in one deal with the French, who were building up a war debt, thanks to Napoleon Bonaparte, whose picture is on the $900 bill.

Jefferson initially settled for being on the nickel and later agreed to be carved into Mount Rushmore. Things did not go nearly as well for Napoleon.

Fairfield exists because of Jefferson's vision. There is little doubt that it would have existed in some form regardless of any vision. History plays strange tricks on us. "When in the course of human events ..."



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