Tag Archives: Missouri River
Congress having passed the two million bill, you will recieve by this mail your last dispatches. others will follow you about the 2d. week of April … Congress has [also] given authority for exploring the Missisipi, which however is ordered to be secret. this will employ about 10. persons two years.
To James Monroe, February 25, 1803
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Effective leaders know that diplomacy sometimes requires a lot of money.
Uncharacteristic for him, Jefferson had commanded Monroe to go to France to help negotiate America’s right to freely use the port of New Orleans. That was the easy part. The diplomats needed money to go where their mouths were, so he asked Congress for $2,000,000, and they approved it. The money was to buy New Orleans along with East and West Florida (our present state of Florida, the southern parts of Alabama and Mississippi, and southeastern Louisiana). This was several months before France’s bombshell offer to sell all of Louisiana.
He also informed Monroe of Congress’ authorization of a small company for “exploring the Missisipi” and $2,500 to pay for it. Both actions were being kept from public knowledge.
Jefferson may have been withholding information from Monroe, too, or protecting his mission should the letter become public. The $2,500 was not for exploring the Mississippi River but the Missouri. That river was still owned by Spain, which had already rebuffed Jefferson’s request to explore it.