Facts in Five

Jefferson’s Presidency by the numbers

  • National debt in 1801- $112 million 
  • Percentage of budget Jefferson designated to pay the debt- 78%
  • The population of the US in 1801 was 5, 305, 982  – 893, 605 were slaves
  • The United States paid $15 million for the Louisiana territory in 1803-  Equivalent to $233 million today
  • The Federal budget in 1803 was $8.2 million before the Louisiana Purchase
  • Jefferson was prepared to pay $10 million for New Orleans alone, the extra 828,000 square miles were a bargain at just under 3 cents per acre

Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park in Leesburg, Virginia

M.A. Kleen

A small park and cemetery memorializes one of the most lopsided and controversial battles of the American Civil War.

Click to expand photos

The Battle of Ball’s Bluff was fought on October 21, 1861 between Union forces commanded by Brig. Gen. Charles P. Stone and Col. Edward D. Baker and Confederate forces commanded by Col. Nathan “Shanks” Evans near Leesburg, Virginia during the American Civil War. The battle was a humiliating defeat for Union forces, including the loss of a U.S. Senator, and led Congress to establish the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War.

After the First Battle of Bull Run ended notions of a quick Union victory, President Abraham Lincoln authorized Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan to form the Army of the Potomac and plan another advance into Virginia. Leesburg, Virginia was a strategic town on the Potomac River, so McClellan ordered Brig. Gen. George A…

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Dolley Madison: Some Evicted Evening

Presidential History Blog

Dolley Madison’s reputation as the most popular First Lady is enshrined for all times…except

Washington: The Summer of 1814

Whether he wanted it or not, President James Madison found himself embroiled in the War of 1812, in essence, the “second” war of independence from Great Britain.  England had been committing serious outrages on American shipping, impressing American sailors, and a host of other “crimes” that were enraging the populace. Armies were raised and English soldiers were once again poised to reclaim their erstwhile colonies.

President James Madison

Two years after hostilities began, the “war” was still being fought, and was coming dangerously close to Washington City itself. Things did not bode well.

The decidedly un-warlike sixty-three-year-old President Madison believed it was his duty to follow the lead of George Washington, and assume personal command of the army. He mounted his horse, and rode off toward Baltimore, less than a…

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Justice Today

Martin Luther King’s words ring as true today as they did in 1963… justice is relevant and must never be taken for granted.

“We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.”  We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

"Devil of a Whipping"- Cowpens

General Daniel Morgan knew his opponent. Lt. Colonel Banestre Tarleton was overly aggressive, particularly in pursuit of undisciplined militia. Morgan used this knowledge to trap Tarleton’s forces in hilly cow pasture.

The Battle of Cowpens turned the tide of the Revolutionary War in the South.

Just as we got to our horses, they overtook us and began to make a few hacks at some, however without doing much injury.  They, in their haste, had pretty much scattered, perhaps thinking they would have another Fishing Creek frolic, but in a few moments Col Washington’s cavalry was among them like a whirlwind, and the poor fellows began to keel from their horses without being able to remount.  The shock was so sudden and violent they could not stand it and immediately betook themselves to flight.  There was no time to really, and they appeared to be as hard to stop as a drove of wild Choctaw steers going to a Pennsylvania market.  In a few moments the clashing of swords was out of hearing and quickly out of sight.

By this time both lines of the infantry were warmly engaged and we, being relieved from the pursuit of the enemy, began to rally and prepare to redeem our credit, when Morgan rode up in front and, waving his sword, cried out, ‘Form, form, my brave fellows!  Give them one more fire and the day is ours.  Old Morgan was never beaten.’

We then advanced briskly and gained the right flank of the enemy, and they, being hard pressed in front by Howard and falling very fast, could not stand it long.  They began to throw down their arms and surrender themselves prisoners of war.  The whole army, except Tarleton and his horsemen, fell into the hands of Morgan, together with all the baggage.*

*James P Collins, Autobiography of a Revolutionary Soldier, reprinted in Commager & Morris, The Spirit of Seventy-Six, (Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 1958), 1156.

Confederacy and Freedom

For too long defenders of Confederate heritage… have associated it with freedom and individual rights for all whites. The specter of the conquering Yankee invading the homeland to oppress the yeoman and steal his acre was the rallying cry.  Policy makers in the Confederacy used this propaganda to dupe poor whites  to defend the landed gentry- a social order built on the aristocracy of chattel slavery.  Jefferson Davis and ilk had no interest in expanding opportunity for the thousands of men who volunteered for this abhorrent cause- they were cannon fodder.

Talk of opportunity and liberty were contrary to the Confederate cause… the slave owning power structure needed poor whites to stay right where they were.  The egalitarian dreams of Thomas Jefferson had no place in the CSA- and the leadership expressed it openly- The Declaration of Independence was a threat to the south.  Far from a “second American Revolution,” the American Civil War was an authoritarian power grab by an entrenched group of oligarchs.

 

Confederate propaganda from Georgia said it best…

“Thanks to Mr. Jefferson we have made a mistake … and pushed the love of democracy too far … vulgar democracy and licentious freedom is rapidly supplanting all the principles of constitutional ‘liberty’! When shall the American people perceive that all our difficulties arise from the absurdities of deciding that the ‘pauper’ and the ‘landholder’ are alike competent to manage the affairs of a Country, or alike entitled to vote for those who shall?”  Athens Southern Watchman 1857

thomas-jefferson

Jefferson’s feelings on slavery and liberty also alienated our apostle of liberty… from these slave owning aristocrats…

“The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other. Our children see this, and learn to imitate it …The man must be a prodigy who can retain his manners and moral undepraved by such circumstances [under slavery]. And with what desecration should the statement be loaded, who permitting one half of the citizens to trample on the rights of the other, transforms those into despots and these into enemies, destroys the morals of one part and the amor patriae of the other.”  Notes on the State of Virginia  1782

January 12, 1865: Davis Note to Blair

Almost Chosen People

Lincoln v. Davis

 Go here to read about the peace initiative of Francis P. Blair who travelled to Richmond to meet with President Davis.

Jefferson Davis was a very shrewd man, much shrewder I think than most historians have given him credit for being.  He realized that little could be expected from negotiations with Lincoln because Lincoln would never agree to Confederate independence, the one non-negotiable issue as far as both Lincoln and Davis were concerned.  Additionally, he regarded a joint Union Confederate war against the French in Mexico, the core of the Blair initiative,  to be a fairly bizarre proposal.  However, he was eager to negotiate.  The Confederate military situation was beyond dire.  If the negotiations led to Confederate independence, victory would be snatched at the last instant.  If, as Davis expected, the negotiations led to nothing, he could tell his people that he had attempted negotiations and the Union would not negotiate in good…

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