Students study various historical documents related to the Louisiana Purchase. They learn Thomas Jefferson’s goals related to the Louisiana Purchase and the American Indians, and answer a series of questions related to the primary sources.
This lesson is part of "Great States: Iowa Unit 9 | Activities for Grades 8–12." This unit is comprised of activities for 8th grade and high school students. In this unit, students will explore the environmental, historical, and political factors that characterize the state of Iowa.
H.SS.8.23: Explain multiple causes and effects of events and developments in early American history.
H.SS.8.24: Critique primary and secondary sources of information with attention to the source of the document, its context, accuracy, and usefulness such as the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, Washington’s Farewell Address, the Louisiana Purchase treaty, Monroe Doctrine, Indian Removal Act, Missouri Compromise, Dred Scott v. Sanford, and the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo.
- Primary Sources: Louisiana Purchase Documents
- An interactive whiteboard, projector, or another type of screen to show documents to the class
- Class set of Louisiana Purchase handout
- Notebooks or loose leaf paper
Distribute the Louisiana Purchase handout to students. Tell students you will be showing them a series of primary source documents about the Louisiana Purchase. Instruct students to take notes on the key points of each document in order to complete the Louisiana Purchase handout. Notes can be taken in student notebooks or on loose-leaf paper.
Show students these primary source documents, Louisiana Purchase Documents:
Click on the Activity: Lewis & Clark’s Expedition to the Complex West link
Click on the map to launch the activity
At the bottom of the map, thumbnails of the primary source documents are shown. Hover over the thumbnail bottom right corner until you see the box with an arrow, then click on this arrow to see the primary source document.
The first document is, “President Thomas Jefferson's message to Congress communicating the discoveries of the explorers Lewis and Clark.” This document is difficult to read, but point out the main goals presented by Thomas Jefferson: discover a route through to the western ocean, develop trade with the American Indians, secure a western border, and gain information about the newly purchased territories.
The second document (third thumbnail) is, “Proclamation to the People of New Orleans.” Explain to students that, through the Louisiana Purchase, the United States gained more than 800,000 square miles of land. This proclamation assured the people of New Orleans of their rights.
The next document (fifth thumbnail) is, “President Thomas Jefferson's Confidential Message Concerning Relations with the Indians.” This document was a secret letter sent to Congress regarding an exploratory expedition west. This document is readable. Have students take turns reading a paragraph to the rest of the students.
Have students complete questions on the handout.
Discover a route through to the western ocean, develop trade with the American Indians, secure a western border, gain information about the newly purchased territories
Assured the people of New Orleans of their rights, liberty, property, freedom of religion and protection
To calm the American Indians who were becoming more and more uneasy with the expansion of the “white man,” to expand trade, to encourage the American Indians to abandon hunting and become farmers, raise livestock, or partake in some form of manufacturing