The Early Republic, 1800-1809
February. While in Philadelphia, Jefferson learns that his lifelong body servant and slave, Jupiter, has died. Jupiter had fallen ill but insisted on accompanying Jefferson in his travels. Unable to continue, and left in Fredericksburg, Virginia to recuperate, Jupiter had returned home to Monticello, where he died.
July. Jefferson works on a manual of parliamentary practice, which will be published in 1801 and become the procedural handbook for the Senate. About twelve years after Jefferson's death in 1826, the House adapts the Manual of Parliamentary Practice for its own use. The 1993 edition, still in use today in the Senate, includes Jefferson's preface and a list of the sources he used in writing it.
June. The U. S. capital is moved from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C.
June 30. A false report that Jefferson is dead is published in Baltimore and taken up elsewhere throughout the country.
December 3. Electors meet in their states and cast votes for the next president of the United States. A tie vote between Jefferson and Aaron Burr does not become known till the end of the month. This throws the election into the House of Representatives which addresses the matter on February 11, 1801.
February 11. The electors' votes for president are officially opened and counted in Congress, which already knows that the vote is tied between Jefferson and Aaron Burr. The House of Representatives meets separately and continues balloting for six days. On February 17, on the thirty-sixth ballot, Jefferson is elected president and Aaron Burr becomes vice president.
March 2. President John Adams appoints sixteen federal judges in a series of "midnight appointments" after the Judiciary Act, which establishes courts between the Supreme and the federal levels, becomes effective February 13. Republicans see this action as a Federalist attempt to gain control of the federal court system in the last hours of Adams administration. Adams also appoints John Marshall, an avowed Federalist, Chief Justice of the United States. Jefferson and Adams cease correspondence thereafter and do not resume it until 1812. The Judiciary Act is repealed on March 8, 1801.
March 4. Jefferson is the first president inaugurated in the new capital city. He walks to his inauguration from his residence, Conrad and McCunn's boarding house, a very short distance from the Capitol Building. "We are all republicans, we are all federalists," Jefferson says in his Inaugural Address. In Jefferson's handwritten copy, "republicans" and "federalists" are both lowercased. In the National Intelligencer, where the Address is published the same day, the terms are capitalized as would be appropriate for two political parties. In the weeks that follow, Jefferson sends copies of his Inaugural Address to two of the original signers of the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Rush and Samuel Adams, and to John Dickinson and Nathaniel Niles.
May. The Pasha of Tripoli declares war on the United States because it has been paying Tripoli less in tribute than it pays Algiers. Tripoli is one of several North African regimes collecting tribute from commercial shipping in the Mediterranean. On May 20, Jefferson sends a naval squadron to the area. In 1804, Stephen Decatur rescues American seamen held in the Bay of Tripoli on their captured ship, the Philadelphia. The naval war ends shortly thereafter.
June 2. Jefferson pays Martha Washington a visit of condolence at Mount Vernon.
January 1. Jefferson replies to a letter from Connecticut's Danbury Baptist Association. In his reply Jefferson explains his position on the issue of the government establishment of religion. Letter, 1802. | Letter, digitally revised to expose obliterated sections. (Thomas Jefferson to Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins and Stephen S. Nelson, a committee of the Danbury Baptist Association in the state of Connecticut, January 1, 1802. Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Thomas Jefferson Papers. Presented in the Religion and the Founding of the American Republic. Part VI: Religion and the Federal Government, Part 2, Library of Congress Exhibitions.)
September. James Callender makes the accusation that Thomas Jefferson has "for many years past kept, as his concubine, one of his own slaves," Sally Hemings. It is published in the Richmond Recorder that month, and the story is soon picked up by Federalist presses around the country. Callender, a Republican, has previously been an avid investigator of Federalist scandals. In 1798, Jefferson had helped pay for the publication of Callender's pamphlet The Prospect Before Us, which claimed to expose John Adams as a monarchist. However, when Jefferson, now president, fails to reward Callender with the office of postmaster in Richmond, Virginia, Callender turns on him.
January 18. Jefferson asks Congress for funds for an expedition to explore the Mississippi River and beyond in search of a route to the Pacific. Meriwether Lewis, Jefferson's private secretary, begins planning the expedition, which forms late in 1803.
April 30. Robert Livingston, ambassador to France, and James Monroe, special envoy, conclude a treaty of cession in Paris in which the United States purchases from France the whole of the Louisiana territory for fifteen million dollars. The territory, approximately 800,000 square miles comprising the Mississippi River Valley and most of the present-day Midwest, almost doubles the size of the United States. Jefferson's original expectation was that Livingston and Monroe might persuade the French to yield a portion of the Mississippi River Valley for ten million dollars. However, Emperor Napoleon of France has just lost an army and the island of Santo Domingo in the Caribbean to Toussaint L'Overture, leader of a slave insurrection, and he is no longer interested in maintaining a French foothold in North America. He offers the United States the whole of the territory.
July 4. News of the purchase of the Louisiana territory is announced in the United States. Jefferson drafts an amendment that if ratified would make the purchase of the Louisiana territory constitutional retroactively. The draft contains measures for the removal of Indian tribes to the other side of the Mississippi River and prohibits American settlement above the 33rd Parallel. Draft of Constitutional Amendment Incorporating Louisiana Territory into the United States
October. A special session of Congress dispenses with Jefferson's draft amendment and ratifies the purchase of the Louisiana territory. Congress also passes legislation giving Jefferson authority over the provisional governments established there.
April 17. Jefferson's daughter Mary (Polly) Jefferson Eppes dies from complications in childbirth. She is twenty-five years old. Abigail Adams, learning of Jefferson's loss, writes him a letter of condolence. June 13, Jefferson responds to her letter and a correspondence follows. However, it soon ceases when political differences on old issues resurface: Jefferson's support of James Callender's pamphlet criticizing Adams in 1798 and John Adams's appointment of "midnight judges" during the last weeks of his presidency in 1801.
May. The expedition led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark departs, moving up the Missouri River. (Lewis and Clark map, with annotations... Geography and Map Division)
July 12. Alexander Hamilton dies after being shot the previous day by Vice President Aaron Burr in a duel at Weehawken, New Jersey.
November. Jefferson is re-elected president. He receives the votes of all state electors except those of Connecticut, Delaware, and two from Maryland. George Clinton is his vice president.
November. Jefferson begins planning an expedition up the Red River to Spanish territory in the southwest.
March 4. Jefferson is inaugurated as president for a second term.
April 7. Lewis and Clark depart from Fort Mandan in what is now North Dakota for the Pacific. They report to Jefferson on the findings of the first year of their expedition.
June 4. The U. S. and Tripoli sign a peace treaty, ending the Mediterranean naval war between the two countries.
August-October. Zebulon Pike begins an expedition to the headwaters of the Mississippi River. Thomas Freeman accepts Jefferson's invitation to head the Red River expedition.
February-March. Joseph H. Daveiss, a Kentucky Federalist, writes Jefferson several letters warning him of possible conspiratorial activities by Aaron Burr. Daveiss's July 14 letter to Jefferson states flatly that Burr plans to provoke a rebellion in Spanish-held parts of the West in order to join them to areas in the Southwest to form an independent nation under his rule. Similar accusations are appearing against local Republicans in a Frankfort, Kentucky newspaper, Western World, and Jefferson dismisses Daveiss's accusations against Burr, a Republican, as politically motivated.
April 19. Jefferson nominates James Monroe and William Pinckney as joint commissioners to Great Britain. British warships have been boarding and searching American ships and seizing American as well as British seamen, claiming that they are British deserters. Jefferson hopes to resolve the issue and maintain American neutrality in the conflict between Great Britain and France.
July. Zebulon Pike's expedition, which began in the fall of 1805, is at the Arkansas River.
September 23. Meriwether Lewis writes Jefferson about the expedition's return to St. Louis.
September-October. Jefferson receives further information from a variety of sources in Pennsylvania and New York, including Generals William Eaton and James Wilkinson, that Aaron Burr is organizing a military expedition against Spanish possessions for the purpose of separating western territories from the United States. Eaton, a veteran of the recent Tripolitan War, claims that Burr tried to recruit him. Wilkinson, commander of United States military forces in the West, provides information about the conspiracy after having been implicated in it himself. He does not specifically name Burr.
November 27. Jefferson issues a proclamation declaring that "sundry persons, citizens of the U.S. or resident within the same, are conspiring & confederating...against the dominions of Spain" and requiring that all military and civil officials of all states and territories of the United States prevent "the carrying on such expedition or enterprise by all lawful means within their power."
January 17. Aaron Burr is captured near New Orleans. He escapes but is recaptured and imprisoned. In April, Burr is charged with treason and tried in Richmond in a federal circuit court presided over by John Marshall. Burr is acquitted. Later, with other charges pending, Burr escapes to England.
March. The Monroe-Pinckney Treaty between Great Britain and the United States, negotiated a year earlier, is made public in Washington. It does not include any guarantees against impressment, although the British have offered informal assurances. Jefferson finds the Treaty unacceptable and the Senate refuses to ratify it. Secretary of State James Madison suggests defusing the situation by forbidding British seamen to serve on American trading ships.
June 22. The British warship Leopard attacks the American ship Chesapeake off the Virginia coast because its captain refused to allow the British to board and search for deserters. Three American seamen are killed and eighteen wounded as the British force a boarding and remove four alleged deserters. After learning of the attack on June 25, Jefferson calls an emergency cabinet meeting.
July. Jefferson and his cabinet release a proclamation closing American ports to all British ships except those with emergencies or on diplomatic missions. The Revenge will carry an ultimatum to Great Britain. Meanwhile, state governors are to call up troops for the federal army.
October-December. James Monroe's further negotiations with Great Britain on the boarding and searching of American ships and other issues fail. In December, as the war between Great Britain and France escalates, Jefferson learns that Napoleon will extend his blockade to American shipping and authorize French seizure of American ships.
December 14. The Nonimportation Act becomes effective, and on December 18, the Senate passes the Embargo Act. The Nonimportation Act was drafted in 1806, but Congress has awaited the outcome of negotiations before making it effective. The Embargo Act closes all American ports to foreign trade, allowing only coastal trade. In 1808, further measures tighten the Embargo Act and prohibit exports by land. Opposition to the Embargo Act is especially strong among New England Federalist merchants. Jefferson also receives many letters of protest from ordinary citizens. Anonymous to Thomas Jefferson, February 2, 1808, Signed A True Republican
April 19. Jefferson declares the Lake Champlain region to be in a state of insurrection because of its outright violations of the Embargo Act.
November 8. In his Annual Message to Congress, Jefferson calls for an increase in domestic manufactures. He cites the beneficial expansion of manufacturing since the Embargo Act has been in effect.
December 7. James Madison is elected president.
March 1. Jefferson signs the Non-Intercourse Act, which effectively repeals the Embargo Act of 1807 but continues restrictions on trade with Great Britain.
March 4. Jefferson retires from public office, and James Madison is inaugurated president. Jefferson leaves Washington and returns to his home, Monticello, in Virginia. He never leaves Virginia again.
Thomas Jefferson, 1800, by Rembrandt Peale (1778-1860), White House Collection, courtesy White House Historical Association
Th. Jefferson, photomechanical print, created/published [between 1890 and 1940(?)]. This print is a reproduction of the 1805 Rembrandt Peale painting of Thomas Jefferson held by the New-York Historical Society.