National Geographic : 1896 Aug
JEFFERSONAS A GEOGRAPHER ginian shedding luster on his native state, or as a citizen doing in that broader national field things of greater import for his country and for oppressed humanity everywhere. Trite may have been the truths he uttered, but he voiced so aptly and clearly the aspirations of the people that his words yet thrill mankind and will in centuries to come. The National Geographic Society erred not in making Monti cello the scene of its annual field day. Bear in mind that of all our Presidents Jefferson is the only one of whom we can say, " He was a geographer." We do not know how far he aided his father in the surveys or draughting that resulted in the famed Jefferson and Fry map of Virginia, published in London in 1775, under Jefferys, the royal geographer, but we can well imagine young Jefferson eagerly studying its western and scarcely known limits, then given over to the Indian and the Spaniard. Doubt less from such studies his comprehending mind, in a manner common to all men of genius, stored geographic facts and ideas that better fitted him for his life duties. Men of genius make all knowledge tributary to their particular interests and ambitions. In the days of travail for this nation, when to Europe America was a land of savages and forests, then it was that Jefferson did his first geographical work, writing " Notes on Virginia," to make known to the statesmen of France the resources and possibilities of a struggling colony. We know that the book was timely and effective, and we believe that it broadened the mind of Jefferson. His greatest geographic measure was his extra-constitutional act of annexation by purchase of the great territory of Louisiana. He realized that the only natural southern boundary of the United States of his day was the gulf of Mexico. To the south and southwest the presence of Latin races meant constant irrita tion and misunderstandings between them and the Anglo-Saxons. Louisiana acquired, Jefferson, like a good geographer, initiated a survey of its immense and unknown areas, sending Lewis and Clarke to the west, and Pike first to the north and then to the southwest. With unwonted wisdom and courage, even before the territory was formally transferred, he sent Lewis and Clarke on their long and perilous journey, the first as well as the most important of all American explorations. Their three years' journey taught the way to the Pacific overland, and their dis covery of the upper valley of the Columbia, conjoined with Gray's entrance at the mouth of that noble waterway in 1792, insured the title of the United States to Oregon territory in 1845.