AE Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2006 Issue

America 1800-1815 from William Reese Co.

Reese251

Printed works from the era of Jefferson and Madison from William Reese.


By Michael Stillman

The latest catalogue from the William Reese Company is entitled The Era of Jefferson and Madison 1800-1815. These are the early days for the republic. The Federalists, tied to the hated Alien and Sedition Acts, have just been voted out of audience. They will fight to regain power, unsuccessfully, and by the end of this period, will be on their deathbed. Meanwhile, the Democratic-Republicans, today's Democratic Party, began a forty year uninterrupted hold on the presidency, though they would later break into factions. This would be a period of tense foreign relations, coupled with expansion and exciting internal explorations. The Louisiana Purchase would double the nation's size overnight. Lewis and Clark would undertake their notable exploration of the Northwest. Meanwhile, Zebulon Pike would explore the Southwest. The next generation of leaders who would carry the nation through mid century built their reputations at this time, Presidents Jackson and Harrison on the battlefield, Senators Clay, Webster and Calhoun in the House of Representatives. Meanwhile, tense relations with England and France would culminate with the War of 1812, a more or less useless war that would at least allow the Americans to flex their muscles and burn off their pent up anger. The period concludes with the ending of this war, with a relieved and happy America about to enter its "Era of Good Feeling." Reese offers 182 important items from these formative years in the young nation's life. Here are a few.

Item 9 presents a look at the Louisiana Territory by the French from the period just before they sold it to the U.S. The title is Voyage a la Louisiane...by Louis Baudry Des Lozieres. It is possible this 1802 report was written with the expectation that France would regain possession of the territory. It had been held by Spain since the French and Indian War, but Napoleon's rise to power afforded France the opportunity to regain control. However, Napoleon's battles in Europe quickly turned his focus away from America, and once France gained possession of Louisiana, he quickly "flipped" it to America for some needed cash. Nonetheless, this book provides information on this about to be acquired territory, its natives, administration, slavery, and some notes about Texas. Priced at $2,000. Baudry's 1803 follow up, Second Voyage a la Louisiane... is also offered. Item 10. $1,750.

Jefferson had intended only to purchase territory near the mouth of the Mississippi to ensure open shipping lanes to that river. He was surprised, but undoubtedly pleased to discover France wanted to sell all of Louisiana, which in those days extended all the way to Montana. Item 99 is one of the great items of Americana collecting, the first official printing of the treaty that brought this land under American sovereignty. It is headed Message from the President...Inclosing a Treaty...Relative to the Cession of Louisiana...printed in 1803. $30,000.

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