Demonstrates the passionate interest the Jeffersonian presidents had in wresting land from less powerful foes and expanding Jefferson’s “empire of liberty”
The first two decades of the 19th century found many Americans eager to move away from the crowded eastern seaboard and into new areas where their goals of landownership might be realized. Such movement was encouraged by Presidents Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe—collectively known as the Jeffersonians—who believed that the country's destiny was to have total control over the entire North American continent. Migration patterns during this time changed the country considerably and included the roots of the slavery controversy that ultimately led to the Civil War. By the end of the period, although expansionists had not succeeded in moving into British Canada, they had obtained command of large areas from the Spanish South and Southwest, including acreage previously controlled by Native Americans.
Utilizing memoirs, diaries, biographies, newspapers, and vast amounts of both foreign and domestic correspondence, Frank Lawrence Owsley Jr. and Gene A. Smith reveal an insider’s view of the filibusters and expansionists, the colorful—if not sometimes nefarious—characters on the front line of the United States’s land grab. Owsley and Smith describe in detail the actions and characters involving both the successful and the unsuccessful efforts to expand the United States during this period—as well as the outspoken opposition to expansion, found primarily among the Federalists in the Northeast.