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Dreams of the Future


Thomas Jefferson once said, “I like the dreams of the future better than the dreams of the past.” There is no doubt that Jefferson was a dreamer. One of his dreams was the purchase of a massive area of land we know as the Louisiana Purchase. But not everyone shared his vision. There was strong opposition to his proposal, even among some of Jefferson’s fellow Republicans.

Some accused Jefferson of being hypocritical. He believed in a strict interpretation of the Constitution, and there was a question as to whether the Louisiana Purchase was constitutional. In an effort to block the deal, the Federalists tried to prove the land belonged to Spain instead of France, but available records proved otherwise. The House of Representatives called for a vote to deny the purchase. The measure failed by two votes.

There were other questions about purchasing such a huge amount of land. Some argued that it would add thirteen million dollars to the national debt. Federalists feared the power of the Atlantic states would be diminished. There was even a concern about increasing the number of slave-holding states. And what about granting citizenship to the French, Spanish, and free black population of the area? Some critics in Congress didn’t feel that people living there should automatically become citizens.

But Jefferson pressed forward. The Senate finally ratified the treaty on October 20th, 1803. By approving the treaty, the Senate authorized Jefferson to take possession of the territory and establish a temporary military government. Plans were also set forth for exploratory missions, the most famous of which was the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

On March 2, 1861, the Dakota Territory was officially incorporated as a territory of the United States. This was the northernmost part of the Louisiana Purchase. The territory took its name from the Dakota Indians who occupied the area. The original territory included not only what is now North and South Dakota, but much of present-day Montana and Wyoming.

Thomas Jefferson was born on this date in 1743, well over one hundred years before North Dakota became a state in 1889. Without him, North Dakota might never have become a state at all.

Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher


About Education. “The Louisiana Purchase.” "" Accessed 21 March, 2015.

State Historical Society of North Dakota. "" Accessed 21 March, 2015.

U.S. Department of State. "" Accessed 21 March, 2015.