1802 - Jefferson and the Missouri country

Clay bluffs above the Mandan villages on the Missouri.

       While he was trying to secure a 'right of deposit' in New Orleans for American farmers, Jefferson feels out the Spanish envoy to Washington about sending an expedition up the Missouri.  The Spanish shrugged off the suggestion, largely because many explorations had shown there was no Northwest passage, and commercial opportunities had been eclipsed by competition with the French and the British.  What the envoy didn't tell Jefferson was the Spanish king was about to cede Louisiana back to France.  What Jefferson didn't tell the envoy was his plan to send explorers up the Missouri.

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Thomas Jefferson, a man of extraordinary but contradictory qualities, remains a true American enigma.