The History and Impact of The Louisiana Purchase

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Words: 1223 |

Pages: 3|

7 min read

Published: Aug 14, 2018

Words: 1223|Pages: 3|7 min read

Published: Aug 14, 2018

The Louisiana Purchase was a land sale of massive geographical proportions from the French government to the United States, in 1803. It was one of the most notable acts and legacy of President Thomas Jefferson. The Louisiana Purchase was used to acquire land predominantly owned by the French, and added much of the southern and mid-western United States. Thomas Jefferson who said of the deal, “every eye in the U.S is now fixed on this affair of Louisiana. Perhaps nothing more than the Revolutionary War has produced more uneasy sensation through the body of this nation” (Louisiana Purchase, n.d.). The deal was a historical landmark in the construction of the United States that allowed the forward expansion of the United States economy and exploration.

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The Louisiana Purchase occurred after the French and Indian Wars of 1802, in which the United States defeated the European superpower France. France, in defeat, signed away land to both Britain and to Spain. Spain was given the key city of New Orleans, which the United States was using as a stockade for exported goods because of the travel time that was cut down using the Mississippi River. Spain acknowledged this and allowed the United States to continue its use of this port under the Pinckney Treaty of 1795. Spain, however, was struggling to maintain its foothold in the New World, and its presence in Louisiana caused Spain to consider transfer of its territory to France. This action caused worry as the Mississippi River was a major commerce trade that could cause massive economic sanctions if France gained control of Louisiana.

During this time, France was one of two superpowers in the world, along with the United Kingdom; however, it was the leader of France that caused most of the uneasiness in the newly founded United States. Napoleon Bonaparte rose to power in 1799, and had the grand notion of making France great again. With Bonaparte’s military genius and desire to see France rise from the ashes of the massive war debt incurred by helping the colonies gain independence, any dealings with France would be futile and worthless. This also meant that the United States was in danger of another war due to the territory gained that was formerly claimed under France. Bonaparte, however was not the only war mongrel making the deal for the Louisiana Territory difficult, the Federalist Party did not want to go through diplomatic actions: they wanted to secede and declare war to gain the desired territory. These actions brought forth urgency for Jefferson to negotiate a deal with France and quell a disturbed nation.

The purchase of the Louisiana territory became the legacy of Thomas Jefferson due to the complexity and circumstances of the situation, much like the Iran nuclear deal of today. With perhaps one of the greatest military minds of the late 18th Century wanting to regain lost territory and the Federalist party wanting to secede and dismantle the infrastructure of the young country, Thomas Jefferson had to take immediate action to secure the survival of what the people had fought to build and keep safe. January of 1803 saw the first of Jefferson’s plan to gain the territory set into action, with his nomination of James Monroe as Minister Extraordinary. Monroe was a close friend and political ally that also wanted to gain the territory. Jefferson said of appointing Monroe,” the unlimited confidence of the administration and the western people, all eyes and hopes are now fixed on you… for on the event of this mission depends the future destinies of this republic” (Louisiana Purchase, n.d.). Monroe was appointed to negotiate the sale of land. He was given three options: the first was to purchase land east of the Mississippi or Florida and Louisiana. If both of those transactions failed. He had to at least negotiate the use of New Orleans as a point of trade. He was given a ten-million-dollar limit on the purchase.

Monroe now en-route to France would be astounded by the time he reached Paris, and would circumvent the need for a show of force for both nations. Napoleons plan’s to reestablish the French superpower in the New World was deflating rapidly, and with recent failed attempts to quell an uprising in Saint Domingue, which caused the entire French force to be lost due to sickness, also the amount of money and troops required to fight another inevitable war with Britain would not allow France to deploy troops to defend its territory in Louisiana, lastly Napoleon’s minister of finance under-evaluated the worth of Louisiana, by telling Napoleon that the territory was not worth the effort of protecting without Saint Domingue. France was in a disposition to forfeit Louisiana to the United States when Monroe arrived in Paris. The territory now up for sale, negotiations occurred that led to the sale of the entire Louisiana territory. France agreed to sell the territory for fifteen million dollars on April 30th.

The sale of Louisiana occurred as soon as Monroe arrived; however, news of the sale was a little bit slower to reach home. Nevertheless, it was still received with the same astonishment that Monroe exhibited. News of the sale didn’t reach the United States until July 4th, and with the new acquisition of territory, there was much debate among members of Jefferson’s cabinet as to the boundaries of this new land to not conflict with Spain’s territory in the south and France’s territory in the north. Also, his cabinet was divided on whether to amend the Constitution or to let the purchase go through without the approval of United States legislation. Tensions were rising again as Jefferson felt that if he were to approve the deal without approval of an amendment would cause an uprising on top of an already negative opinion of the purchase. Another problem was That the United States did not have the full amount that was promised to Napoleon, they would have to borrow money from two of Europe’s largest banks. The deadline was fast approaching and with no more time to appoint an amendment, Jefferson agreed to approve the purchase and the issue went to Congress where it was approved by a 24-7 vote. Jefferson still had doubts about the constitutionality of the deal as evident in the quote he made, “… stretched the constitution until it had cracked.” (Greenspan, 2013) This deal would forever be cemented as the largest real estate transaction in history, and an extreme stroke of luck for the United States to avoid a conflict so soon after gaining independence.

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The Louisiana Purchase forever changed the United States. It allowed for the forward expansion of the United States and other national events such as Manifest Destiny and the Civil War. Thomas Jefferson’s legacy was to let the nation grow and become its own world power, in terms of economic development as the United States no longer had to pay tariffs to Spain for the use of New Orleans, it allowed land to be developed that soon elevated the United States as a world power that had lived up to the dreams that the country was built upon. This deal allowed people to grow forward into the west and start the growth of the United States, and kept the dream of self-preservation and being free to accomplish ones’ own goals.

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The History and Impact of the Louisiana Purchase. (2018, August 02). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 23, 2024, from
“The History and Impact of the Louisiana Purchase.” GradesFixer, 02 Aug. 2018,
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