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Empire of Liberty
Transcript of Empire of Liberty
“By enlarging the
empire of liberty
, we multiply its auxiliaries, and provide new sources of renovation, should its principles, at any time, degenerate, in those portions of our country which gave them birth.” –
to president and legislative council, speaker and house of representatives of the territory of Indiana, Dec. 28, 1805
In the progress of the division of labour, the employment of the far greater part of those who live by labour, that is, of the great body of the people, comes to be confined to a few very simple operations, frequently to one or two. But the understandings of the greater part of men are necessarily formed by their ordinary employments. The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects are perhaps always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become.
-- Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, Bk 5, Ch 1
Northwest Ordinance (1787, 1789)
Louisiana Purchase (1803)
Nicholas King map used by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark (1803): This composite map was prepared by Nicholas King, at the request of Thomas Jefferson and Albert Gallatin, secretary of the treasury. It represents the geographical knowledge of the trans-Mississippi West available to government officials on the eve of the expedition.
A map of Lewis and Clark's track, across the western portion of North America from the Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean, in 1804, 5 & 6. Copied by Samuel Lewis from the original drawing of William Clark. Published in Philadelphia in 1814 by Bradford and Inskeep.
The political oeconomists of Europe have established it as a principle that every state should endeavour to manufacture for itself: and this principle, like many others, we transfer to America, without calculating the difference of circumstance which should often produce a difference of result. In Europe the lands are either cultivated, or locked up against the cultivator. Manufacture must therefore be resorted to of necessity not of choice, to support the surplus of their people.
But we have an immensity of land courting the industry of the husbandman. Is it best then that all our citizens should be employed in its improvement, or that one half should be called off from that to exercise manufactures and handicraft arts for the other? Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God, if ever he had a chosen people, whose breasts he has made his peculiar deposit for substantial and genuine virtue. It is the focus in which he keeps alive that sacred fire, which otherwise might escape from the face of the earth. Corruption of morals in the mass of cultivators is a phaenomenon of which no age nor nation has furnished an example.
-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Chapter 19, Query XIX: "The present state of manufactures, commerce, interior and exterior trade?"
Critiques of Commerce
Intellectual and Political Contexts:
Four Stages Theory
Federalists vs Republicans (Strong government? Planned economy? Manufacturing?)
1800 Election (Thomas Jefferson defeats John Adams)
What are the requirements of an "Empire of Liberty?" I.e. what are the prerequisites of republican political economy?
Healthy political system
Liberal international commerce
Further Reading: Drew R. McCoy, The Elusive Republic
Political Economy in Jeffersonian America (Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1980)
Native American settlements in Arkansas Valley, 1770s-90s, in Kathleen DuVal, The Native Ground Indians and Colonists in the Heart of the Continent (Phila: U Penn, 2007)