Letter from John Sibley to unnamed recipient, August 15, 1804
John Sibley, a physician and newspaperman, moved to Louisiana in 1802. He corresponded with Thomas Jefferson on territorial issues and served as an Army contractor and Indian agent. Sibley recorded the concerns expressed by French-speaking people upon learning that Louisiana was to become part of the United States.
"My room has been crowded almost every day since I received governor Claiborne’s letter; some having heard the report, and wishing to learn the truth of it; others to obtain some knowledge of the American government, under which they expect soon to pass."
Manuscript Division, Library of Congress
Creating a National Community
In 1803, the United States bought the Louisiana Territory from France, more than doubling the size of the country and adding new populations with diverse languages and cultures. Residents of New Orleans—of French, Spanish, African, Cajun, and Acadian descent—were apprehensive about the transfer of power. As they sought to learn about their new government, President Jefferson gathered data about Indian nations of the northwest, reaching into present-day North and South Dakota.