Jefferson and Lewis
2003 Shaping the World: Conversation on Democracy
"The Object of our Mission"
Thomas Jefferson confers with Meriwether Lewis
Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest
Blue Ridge Public Television
Virginia Department of Education
Virginia Satellite Education Network
Students (grades 5-12) and teachers can join a conversation in which Meriwether Lewis reports to President Thomas Jefferson on the success of the westward expedition. Jefferson had initiated the proceedings which led to the purchase of the Louisiana Territory in 1803, as well as the commissioning of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to find "the most direct and practicable water communication across this continent, for the purpose of commerce." When the Corps of Discovery departed St. Louis in May 1804, the party consisted of Captains Lewis and Clark, 26 volunteers and Army regulars, Clark's black slave York and Lewis's Newfoundland dog Seaman. Expedition members had no idea how they would be received but realized with each passing mile that their success would depend upon the good will of the native people. Even with their assistance, the search for a "Northwest Passage" would prove for members of the Corps of Discovery to be the most difficult part of their entire journey. Jefferson had also instructed them to gather detailed information about the plants, animals, soil, minerals, weather and Native American tribes they encountered.
In this interchange with President Jefferson and Captain Lewis, students have the opportunity to learn more about the extraordinary journey into what Jefferson called the "Mysterious West." Seventh graders from Central Academy Middle School query Jefferson and Lewis on the reasons for the expedition, the secret message to Congress, the instructions and preparation for the journey, the members of the Corps of Discovery, the Native Americans encountered, the plants and animals of the west, and the day to day life of being in uncharted territory.
"Shaping the World: Conversations on Democracy" can assist teachers with the following Standards Of Learning
In 1773, Thomas Jefferson and his wife, Martha, inherited approximately 4800 acres from the estate of John Wayles, Martha’s father. Jefferson designed an octagonal villa and in 1806 traveled to Bedford County to oversee the laying of the foundation. Poplar Forest was to serve as a retreat for Jefferson and his grandchildren. Poplar Forest was a working farm with more than sixty slaves living on the property. The plantation was sold to William Cobbs after Jefferson’s death. The acreage dwindled and the house underwent many structural changes. In 1984, the nonprofit Corporation for Jefferson’s Poplar Forest formed to rescue this landmark for the educational and cultural benefit of the public. The exterior restoration of the house was completed in 1998 and earned an Honor award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Archaeology and restoration continue. For more information on Poplar Forest, call (434) 525-1806.
Blue Ridge Public Television
Since 1966, Blue Ridge Public Television has provided instructional television for western Virginia, and today broadcasts SOL-correlated programs to 39 school divisions with 197,000 students. BRPTV works on-site with all communities of learners, including teachers, pre-schoolers, and adult learners. BRPTV sponsors Virginia’s JASON Project, Homework Helpline, Reading Rainbow Young Authors and Illustrators, Young Heroes, and the McGlothlin Awards for Teaching Excellence.
Virginia Department of Education and the Virginia Satellite Educational Network
The Virginia Satellite Educational Network (VSEN) provides advanced placement and foreign language courses to K-12 students. Programs that support the Virginia Standards of Learning for students, teachers, and administrators are also delivered through VSEN. The Department of Education and VSEN are pleased to make Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest's program available via satellite to students across the Commonwealth and nation.
Curriculum researched and developed by Octavia Starbuck and Jackie Almond