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Interpreting the Evidence

Portrait of Alexander Hamilton, 1832

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Expansion and Reform (1801 - 1861)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Lower Elementary
    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:


  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:

    United States

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Portrait of Alexander Hamilton, 1832 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
A portrait of Alexander Hamilton by John Trumbull, 1832.
Historical Context
The Louisiana Purchase has been called the greatest real estate venture in history. On April 30, 1803, the United States acquired from France 828,000 square miles of land west of the Mississippi River. This land stretched north from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada and west from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains. This new land nearly doubled the size of the United States!

Even so, not everyone in the United States was happy with the Louisiana Purchase. Some members of the Federalist Party in New England were so opposed to the purchase that they planned to separate from the United States.  Alexander Hamilton, who was a Federalist leader and the first Secretary of Treasury, helped to stop the secession of northern states.

Essential Question
How do individuals influence national and global events?
Check for Understanding
Describe the individual in the portrait and explain the role of Alexander Hamilton in westward expansion.
Historical Challenges
Create a timeline of Alexander Hamilton’s life showing major events and accomplishments. Chose the accomplishment you think is most important and write a paragraph describing the accomplishment and explaining why you think it was Hamilton’s most important one.
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: About how many dollars per square mile did the United States pay for the Louisiana Territory? If there are 640 acres in one square mile, about how much per acre did the United States pay? Does your number match the amount given by other sources?
Science: Choose five plants or animals that Lewis and Clark discovered on their expedition across Louisiana Territory. Make a booklet including one page for each discovery. For each discovery, draw a picture of the plant or animal, write its common and Latin names, describe the location and climate where it is found, and include any interesting facts about the species.
English Language Arts: Many of Thomas Jefferson’s opponents said that the Louisiana Territory was a worthless purchase and that Jefferson did not have the authority to purchase it without the approval of Congress. Chose a side and write a speech arguing for or against the United States’ purchase of the Louisiana Territory.