Date of Award

Fall 2006

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Director

Jane T. Merritt

Committee Member

Michael Carhart

Committee Member

Kathy Pearson

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.H47 T83 2006


The greatest accomplishments of Thomas Jefferson's presidency were the purchase of the Louisiana territory, which doubled the size of the United States, and the discoveries made by the Lewis and Clark expedition. These were not just single events that sprang into being in 1803, as we learned in elementary school, but the fulfillment of a lifetime of study and effort for Jefferson. Many factors influenced Jefferson to make the decisions that culminated in these twin events.

This thesis examines the role of Doctor Thomas Walker, who was Thomas Jefferson*s guardian, neighbor, and friend, to demonstrate the influence of a lesser-known person on the larger issues of America's westward movement. This study intends to consider Thomas Walker's life in terms of the long relationship between the Walker and Jefferson families to discover in what ways and to what extent Thomas Walker might have influenced Thomas Jefferson. In his instructions outlining the goals of the Lewis and Clark expedition, Jefferson reflects Walker's attitudes towards land exploration and mapping, using the land as a resource and developing relations with the natives.

Primary materials used to support this thesis were the words of the men themselves. The author examined the journal of Thomas Walker's 1750 journey of exploration, correspondence between the two men, government records of their actions as public servants, and Thomas Jefferson's Summary View of the Rights of British America and Notes on the State of Virginia in order to establish Walker's influence over Jefferson in terms of their personal philosophies about land and relationships with natives. Further examination of President Jefferson's instructions to Meriwether Lewis demonstrated how those philosophies influenced the mission of the Corps of Discovery*s exploration of the Louisiana Purchase.


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