Page:Writings of Thomas Jefferson, III, IV.djvu/11

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THE LOUISIANA PURCHASE.

The Louisiana Purchase was, by common consent, the supreme act of the administration of Thomas Jefferson as President, though he makes no reference to it in citing the features of his career which he chose to have perpetuated in his epitaph. For that commemoration he chose principles rather than acts. There have been others who have framed or founded universities. There have been others who have framed statutes of religious liberty. But there was only one Louisiana Purchase.

I venture to think that there are three great master facts upon which the enduring fame of Jefferson will rest: First, he was the author of the Declaration of Independence; second, he was the founder and leader of a great party, of a school of political thought which, under varying names, has divided the republic from the beginning to the present time; third, he made the Louisiana Purchase. In its historical importance this great act ranks with half a dozen of the most momentous and epochal events in our national annals, with his own Declaration of Independence, with the adoption of the Constitution, with the molding of national power through constitutional construction by Chief Justice