Of Salt Mountains, Prairie Dogs, and Horned Frogs: The Louisiana Purchase and the Evolution of Federalist Satire 1803–1812

Of Salt Mountains, Prairie Dogs, and Horned Frogs: The Louisiana Purchase and the Evolution of... Abstract: In November 1803, President Thomas Jefferson presented to the United States Congress a report on the newly acquired Louisiana Territory. The report offered a wide-ranging description of the territory, including geographic boundaries, accounts of the various inhabitants, and the natural resources contained within the region. For Jefferson and his supporters the news of the salt mountain and the other natural wonders contained within the Louisiana Territory provided cause for celebration. For some members of the Federalist opposition, however, these natural wonders offered grist for the political mill. While this back and forth is colorful, historians often treat it as little more than an interesting aside in studies of the Federalist response to the Louisiana Purchase, focusing instead on larger issues of constitutional authority, the extension of slavery, and even northern secession. Yet to relegate these “curiosities” to a secondary role misses an important moment in the development of American politics. More than simply serving as entertaining political banter, the Federalist critique of the Louisiana Purchase became an essential piece of minority party’s on-going satire of the Jefferson administration. These efforts became a form of shorthand that made up a key part of a moderate Federalist identity as they sought to navigate a shifting political landscape in earliest decades of the 19th century. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of the Early Republic University of Pennsylvania Press

Of Salt Mountains, Prairie Dogs, and Horned Frogs: The Louisiana Purchase and the Evolution of Federalist Satire 1803–1812

Journal of the Early Republic, Volume 35 (1) – Feb 19, 2015

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Publisher
University of Pennsylvania Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 Society for Historians of the Early American Republic.
ISSN
1553-0620
Publisher site
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Abstract

Abstract: In November 1803, President Thomas Jefferson presented to the United States Congress a report on the newly acquired Louisiana Territory. The report offered a wide-ranging description of the territory, including geographic boundaries, accounts of the various inhabitants, and the natural resources contained within the region. For Jefferson and his supporters the news of the salt mountain and the other natural wonders contained within the Louisiana Territory provided cause for celebration. For some members of the Federalist opposition, however, these natural wonders offered grist for the political mill. While this back and forth is colorful, historians often treat it as little more than an interesting aside in studies of the Federalist response to the Louisiana Purchase, focusing instead on larger issues of constitutional authority, the extension of slavery, and even northern secession. Yet to relegate these “curiosities” to a secondary role misses an important moment in the development of American politics. More than simply serving as entertaining political banter, the Federalist critique of the Louisiana Purchase became an essential piece of minority party’s on-going satire of the Jefferson administration. These efforts became a form of shorthand that made up a key part of a moderate Federalist identity as they sought to navigate a shifting political landscape in earliest decades of the 19th century.

Journal

Journal of the Early RepublicUniversity of Pennsylvania Press

Published: Feb 19, 2015

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