… in chusing these characters it has been an object of considerable attention to chuse French who speak the American language, & Americans who speak the French. yet I have not made the want of the two languages an absolute exclusion. but it should be earnestly recommended to all persons concerned in the business of the government, to acquire the other language, & generally to inculcate the advantage of every person’s possessing both, and of regarding both equally as the language of the territory.
To William C.C. Claiborne, August 30, 1804
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Winner take all is a dumb strategy for leaders.
The President was planning the government for the southern portion of the recently acquired Louisiana. It would be headquartered in New Orleans where the sizeable majority would be of French descent. The appointed legislative body would have 13 members. Jefferson wanted a seven members to be American, six to be French.
In addition to a representative body, he wanted one that could communicate easily among themselves. While not requiring bi-lingual members, all mono-lingual appointees should be willing to upgrade their status. Going even further, he didn’t specify English as the official language, but that the French tongue should have equal status.