Northup, Solomon. Twelve Years a slave (New York: Penguin Books, 2012). (461)

Peterson, Merrill. “Jefferson, the West, and the Enlightenment Vision.”

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Peterson, Merrill. “Jefferson, the West, and the Enlightenment Vision.” The Wisconsin Magazine of History 70 (1987): 270-280. (11)
Merrill Peterson’s piece on Jefferson and the continuation of the United States in to the west highlights the journey of Thomas Jefferson to pave the way to the United States that citizens know today. “Jefferson, the West, and the Enlightenment Vision” created a story line for one to see the thought process of Jefferson – from the building of Monticello to the beginning of the American Revolution to the Ordinance of 1787. Each one of these crucial events in Jefferson’s timeline represents a crucial point in American history as well. Perhaps one of the more controversial points covered in Peterson’s piece was Jefferson’s “identif[ication}…with the spirit and aspirations of the West” despite his life in Virginia – an idea also highlighted in Jefferson’s 1801 State of the Union address.37 Upon his predictions of interactions between themselves and the Natives, Jefferson hoped for a continued “spirit of peace and friendship”.38 Interestingly enough, this was also an aspect that was most literally built into the creation of Monticello, as the dome located atop the building even faced the western frontier. Perhaps most interesting in Peterson’s piece was his work with the Ordinance of 1787, also known as the Northwest Ordinance, a piece of legislature which “would rank among all American State Papers immediately after the Constitution”.39 This Ordinance continues to show Jefferson’s infatuation with exploration to the West, as well as highlight his tolerance and hope for positive relations with their Native neighbors, as Article Three of the Ordinance states that “the utmost faith shall always be observed towards the Indians”.40 Despite the lack of control these regulations actually had on the population which ventured into the west, the work of Jefferson and the legacy of the Northwest Ordinance continue to perpetuate ideals of tolerance and openness which have, perhaps somewhat mistakenly, become what the western coast of the United States has become known for.

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