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Louisiana Purchase

LOUISIANA PURCHASE

LOUISIANA PURCHASE. A watershed event in American history, the purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803 nearly doubled the land mass of the young nation: for a purchase price of $15 million, the United States increased its size by some 828,000 square miles. The region included the Mississippi River and its tributaries westward to the Rocky Mountains, and extended from the Gulf of Mexico at New Orleans up the Red River to the Canadian border.

Natural and Political History of the Territory before the Purchase

The central portion of North America was considered prime land for settlement in the early days of the republic. The Missouri and Red Rivers drained the region east of the Rocky Mountains into the massive Mississippi Valley, offering navigation and fertile farmlands, prairies, pastures and forests. The region also held large deposits of various minerals, which would come to be economic boons as well. Buffalo and other wild game were plentiful and offered an abundant food supply for the Native Americans who peopled the region as well as for later settlers.

From the mid-fifteenth century, France had claimed the Louisiana Territory. Its people constituted a strong French presence in the middle of North America. Always adamant in its desire for land, France engaged the British in the Seven Years' War (1754–1763; also known as the French and Indian War because of the alliance of these two groups against British troops) over property disputes in the Ohio Valley. As part of the settlement of the Seven Years' War, the 1763 Treaty of Paris called for France to turn over control of the Louisiana Territory (including New Orleans) to Spain as compensation for Spanish assistance to the French during the war.

By the early 1800s, Spain offered Americans free access to shipping on the Mississippi River and encouraged Americans to settle in the Louisiana Territory. President Thomas Jefferson officially frowned on this invitation, but privately hoped that many of his frontier-seeking citizens would indeed people the area owned by Spain. Like many Americans, Jefferson warily eyed the vast Louisiana Territory as a politically unstable place; he hoped that by increasing the American presence there, any potential war concerning the territory might be averted.

The Purchase

In 1802 it seemed that Jefferson's fears were well founded: the Spanish governor of New Orleans revoked Americans' privileges of shipping produce and other goods for export through his city. At the same time, American officials became aware of a secret treaty that had been negotiated and signed the previous year between Spain and France. This, the Treaty of San Ildefonso, provided a position of nobility for a minor Spanish royal in exchange for the return of the Louisiana Territory to the French.

Based on France's history of engaging in hostilities for land, Jefferson and other leaders were alarmed at this potential threat on the U.S. western border. While some Congressmen had begun to talk of taking New Orleans, Spain's control over the territory as a whole generally had been weak. Accordingly, in April 1802 Jefferson and other leaders instructed Robert R. Livingston, the U.S. minister to France, to attempt to purchase New Orleans for $2 million, a sum Congress quickly appropriated for the purpose.

In his initial approach to officials in Paris, Livingston was told that the French did not own New Orleans and thus could not sell it to the United States. However, Livingston quickly assured the negotiators that he had seen the Treaty of San Ildefonso and hinted that the United States might instead simply seize control of the city. With


the two sides at an impasse, President Jefferson quickly sent Secretary of State James Monroe to Paris to join the negotiations.

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821), who had come to power in France in 1799, planned in 1801 to use the fertile Mississippi Valley as a source of food and trade to supply a French empire in the New World. However, in 1801 Toussaint L'Ouverture led a slave revolt that eventually took control of Haiti and Hispaniola, the latter of which Napoleon had chosen as the seat of his Western empire. French armies under the leadership of Charles LeClerc attempted to regain control of Haiti in 1802; however, despite some successes, thousands of soldiers were lost in battle and to yellow fever. Realizing the futility of his plan, Napoleon abandoned his dreams for Hispaniola. As a result, he no longer had a need for the Louisiana Territory, and knew that his forces were insufficient to protect it from invasion. Furthermore, turning his attentions to European conquests, he recognized that his plans there would require an infusion of ready cash. Accordingly, Napoleon authorized his ministers to make a counteroffer to the Americans: instead of simply transferring the ownership of New Orleans, France would be willing to part with the entire Louisiana Territory.

Livingston and Monroe were stunned at his proposal. Congress quickly approved the purchase and authorized a bond issue to raise the necessary $15 million to complete the transaction. Documents effecting the transfer were signed on 30 April 1803, and the United States formally took possession of the region in ceremonies at St. Louis, Missouri on 20 December.

Consequences of the Louisiana Purchase

The Louisiana Purchase has often been described as one of the greatest real estate deals in history. Despite this, there were some issues that concerned Americans of the day. First, many wondered how or if the United States could defend this massive addition to its land holdings. Many New Englanders worried about the effect the new addition might have on the balance of power in the nation. Further, Jefferson and Monroe struggled with the theoretical implications of the manner in which they carried out the purchase, particularly in light of Jefferson's previous heated battles with Alexander Hamilton concerning the interpretation of limits of constitutional and presidential powers. In the end, however, the desire to purchase the territory outweighed all of these practical and theoretical objections.

The increases in population, commerce, mining, and agriculture the Louisiana Purchase allowed worked to strengthen the nation as a whole. The opportunity for individuals and families to strike out into unsettled territory and create lives for themselves helped to foster the frontier spirit of independence, curiosity, and cooperation that have come to be associated with the American character.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Ellis, Joseph J. American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson. New York: Knopf, 1997.

Kastor, Peter J., ed. The Louisiana Purchase: Emergence of an American Nation. Washington, D.C: Congressional Quarterly Books, 2002.

Kennedy, Roger. Mr. Jefferson's Lost Cause: Land, Farmers, Slavery, and the Louisiana Purchase. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Labbé, Dolores Egger, ed. The Louisiana Purchase and Its Aftermath, 1800–1830. Lafayette: Center for Louisiana Studies, University of Southwestern Louisiana, 1998.

Barbara SchwarzWachal

See alsoManifest Destiny ; Mississippi River ; Westward Migration .

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Louisiana Purchase

LOUISIANA PURCHASE

The Louisiana Purchase of 1803 doubled the size of the United States, gave the country complete control of the port of New Orleans, and provided territory for westward expansion. The 828,000 square miles purchased from France formed completely or in part thirteen states: Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wyoming. President thomas jefferson was unsure if the Constitution authorized the acquisition of land, but he found a way to justify the purchase.

France originally claimed the Louisiana Territory in the seventeenth century. In 1763 it ceded to Spain the province of Louisiana, which was about where the state of Louisiana is today. By the 1790s U.S. farmers who lived west of the Appalachian Mountains were shipping their surplus produce by boat down rivers that flowed into the Gulf of Mexico. In 1795 the United States negotiated a treaty with Spain that permitted U.S. merchants the right of deposit at New Orleans. This right allowed the merchants to store their goods in New Orleans without paying duty before they were exported.

In 1800 France, under the leadership of Napoléon, negotiated a secret treaty with Spain that ceded the province of Louisiana back to France. President Jefferson became concerned that France had control of the strategic port of New Orleans, and sought to purchase the port and West Florida. When France revoked the right of deposit for U.S. merchants in 1802, Jefferson sent james monroe to Paris to help robert r. livingston convince the French government to complete the sale. These statesmen warned that the United States would ally itself with England against France if a plan were not devised that settled this issue.

Monroe and Livingston were authorized by Congress to offer up to $2 million to purchase the east bank of the Mississippi; Jefferson secretly advised them to offer over $9 million for Florida and New Orleans.

Napoléon initially resisted U.S. offers, but changed his mind in 1803. He knew that war with England was imminent, and realized that if France were tied down with a European war, the United States might annex the Louisiana Territory. He also took seriously the threat of a U.S.-English alliance. Therefore, in April 1803 he instructed his foreign minister, Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, to negotiate with Monroe and Livingston for the United States' purchase of the entire Louisiana Territory. Acting on their own, the U.S. negotiators agreed to the price of $15 million, with $12 million paid to France and $3 million paid to U.S. citizens who had outstanding claims against France. The purchase agreement, dated April 30, was signed May 2 and reached Washington, D.C., in July.

President Jefferson endorsed the purchase but believed that the Constitution did not provide the national government with the authority to make land acquisitions. He pondered whether a constitutional amendment might be needed to legalize the purchase. After consultations Jefferson concluded that the president's authority to make treaties could be used to justify the agreement. Therefore, the Louisiana Purchase was designated a treaty and submitted to the Senate for ratification. The Senate ratified the treaty October 20, 1803, and the United States took possession of the territory December 20, 1803.

The U.S. government borrowed money from English and Dutch banks to pay for the acquisition. Interest payments for the fifteen-year loans brought the total price to over $27 million. The vast expanse of land, running from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains and from

the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian border, is the largest ever added to the United States at one time. The settling of the territory played a large part in the debate over slavery preceding the Civil War, as Congress grappled with the question of whether to allow slavery in new states, such as Missouri and Kansas.

further readings

Levasseur, Alain A., and Roger K. Ward. 1998. "300 Years and Counting: the French Influence on the Louisiana Legal System." Louisiana Bar Journal 46 (December): 300.

Ward, Roger K. 2003. "The Louisiana Purchase." Louisiana Bar Journal 50 (February): 330.

cross-references

Kansas-Nebraska Act; Missouri Compromise of 1820.

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Louisiana Purchase

Louisiana Purchase, 1803, American acquisition from France of the formerly Spanish region of Louisiana.

Reasons for the Purchase

The revelation in 1801 of the secret agreement of 1800, whereby Spain retroceded Louisiana to France, aroused uneasiness in the United States both because Napoleonic France was an aggressive power and because Western settlers depended on the Mississippi River for commerce. In a letter to the American minister to France, Robert R. Livingston (1746–1813; see Livingston, family), President Jefferson stated that "The day that France takes possession of New Orleans … we must marry ourselves to the British fleet and nation." Late in 1802 the right of deposit at New Orleans, granted to Americans by the Pinckney treaty of 1795, was withdrawn by the Spanish intendant (Louisiana was still under Spanish control). Although Spain soon restored the right of deposit, the acquisition of New Orleans became of paramount national interest.

Negotiations and Purchase

Jefferson instructed Livingston to attempt to purchase the "Isle of Orleans" (i.e., New Orleans) and West Florida from France. He appointed James Monroe minister extraordinary and plenipotentiary to serve with Livingston. Congress granted the envoys $2 million to secure their object.

The international situation favored the American diplomats. Louisiana was of diminishing importance to France. The costly revolt in Haiti forced the French emperor Napoleon I to reconsider his plan to make Hispaniola the keystone of his colonial empire, and impending war with Great Britain made him question the feasibility of holding Louisiana against that great naval power. He decided to sell Louisiana to the United States.

On Apr. 11, 1803, the French foreign minister Charles Maurice de Talleyrand opened negotiations by asking the surprised Livingston what the United States would give for all of Louisiana. Bargaining began in earnest the next day, on Monroe's arrival in Paris. On Apr. 29, the U.S. envoys agreed to pay a total of $15 million to France; about $3,750,000 of this sum covered claims of U.S. citizens against France, which the U.S. government agreed to discharge. The treaty, dated Apr. 30, 1803, was signed several days later. Jefferson's scruples about the constitutionality of the purchase were overcome by his fears that Napoleon might change his mind (as intimated in reports from Livingston) and by the overwhelming public approval of the Louisiana Purchase (although there was some objection from Federalists, especially in New England).

The treaty was ratified by the U.S. Senate in October, and the U.S. flag was raised over New Orleans on Dec. 20. The Louisiana Purchase, extending from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mts. and from the Gulf of Mexico to British North America, doubled the national domain, increasing it c.828,000 sq mi (c.2,144,500 sq km). The final boundaries of the territory were not settled for many years (see West Florida Controversy), since the 1803 treaty did not set the limits of the region.

Bibliography

See J. K. Hosmer, The History of the Louisiana Purchase (1902); J. A. Robertson, Louisiana under the Rule of Spain, France, and the United States, 1785–1807 (2 vol., 1910–11, repr. 1969); E. S. Brown, The Constitutional History of the Louisiana Purchase (1920, repr. 1972), A. P. Whitaker, The Mississippi Question, 1795–1803 (1934, repr. 1962).

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Louisiana Purchase Exposition

LOUISIANA PURCHASE EXPOSITION

LOUISIANA PURCHASE EXPOSITION was organized to commemorate the centenary of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Civic leaders in Saint Louis, led by the former mayor and Missouri governor David R. Francis, planned a world's fair. They chose the city's largest park as the site and May to December 1904 as the time. (The ceremony of the transfer of Upper Louisiana Territory had taken place in Saint Louis in 1804.) All major nations except war-torn Russia took part, as did all U.S. states and territories, including the newly annexed Philippine Islands. Native Americans including the Sioux, Apaches, and Osages participated.

While earlier fairs had stressed products, the fair in Saint Louis stressed methods of production. The participants compared techniques and exchanged experiences. Automobiles and trains shared attention. Fourteen palaces designed for such fields as education, agriculture, transportation, mining, and forestry provided 5 million square feet of exhibit space. Sunday closings typified the Victorian tone that dominated entertainment.

Scholars and scientists sponsored conferences in conjunction with the fair, and the International Olympic Committee chose Saint Louis for the first games held in America. Close to 20 million visitors attended, among them in late November the newly reelected president Theodore Roosevelt, who invited the Apache warrior Geronimo to ride in his inaugural parade.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Faherty, William Barnaby, and NiNi Harris. The St. Louis Portrait. Tulsa, Okla.: Continental Heritage Press, 1978.

Fox, Timothy J., and Duane R. Sneddeker. From the Palaces to the Pike: Visions of the 1904 World's Fair. St. Louis: Missouri Historical Society Press, 1997.

William B.Faherty

See alsoLouisiana Purchase ; Saint Louis ; World's Fairs .

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Louisiana Purchase

Louisiana Purchase (1803) Transaction between the USA and France, in which the USA bought, for 60 million francs (US$15 million), 2,144,500sq km (828,000sq mi) of land between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains. With national security and the control of the Mississippi in mind, President Thomas Jefferson sent James Monroe to France to join US minister Robert Livingston. The two men negotiated the purchase from Napoleon, who had lost interest in a colonial empire in the New World. The Louisiana Purchase doubled the area of the USA, and 13 states were admitted from the territory.

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Louisiana Purchase

LOUISIANA PURCHASE


In 1801 after a series of secret agreements, French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte (17691821) recovered the territory of Louisiana from Spain, which France had lost in 1763. When the land was handed over, U.S. goods were refused storage at the important international port of New Orleansa violation of the Pinckney Treaty. Since New Orleans was an integral port to U.S. international trade, unhappy U.S. farmers and merchants grumbled for war.

President Thomas Jefferson (18011809) realized that this French acquisition challenged U.S. trade and presented a stumbling block to the United States, should it ever choose to expand its current borders westward. Believing that his decision was in his country's best interests, Jefferson sent Secretary of State James Monroe (17581831) to Paris to discuss the possibility of purchasing the Louisiana Territory from France. At the same time, Jefferson authorized a gathering of militiamen at home as a show of force against France.


Napoleon, who was already on unfriendly terms with Britain, did not want to face a British-U.S. alliance. In 1803 he agreed to sell the Louisiana Territory (approximately 827,000 square miles) to the United States for a price of $15 million. The United States doubled its territorial size and extended public lands westward into the Missouri River and the Rocky Mountains.

Although the Louisiana Purchase extended U.S. boundaries and ensured protection of U.S. trade at the port of New Orleans, it presented a dilemma to Jefferson. He had a dream of seeing the United States stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans. He also believed the government was invested with only those powers explicitly stated in the Constitution, and the authority to purchase new territory was not among those powers.

In purchasing the Louisiana Territory, Jefferson used implied Constitutional powers, by which he strengthened the national government. His action, however, created a sense of uneasiness among those who feared a return to an authoritarian regime so soon after the American Revolution (17751783). A strong central government infringed on states' rights, which Jefferson also ardently supported. At the time he considered proposing a Constitutional amendment to allow explicitly the authority to purchase new territory. But, Secretary of the Treasury, Albert Gelatin, advised Jefferson that the executive office had an inherent right to expand the nation, and Congress had the power to admit newly acquired land into the Union as a state or annex it as territory. Jefferson accepted this position and Congress ratified the land purchase. Regardless of the president's philosophical conflict, the public approved of the purchase. In 1804 Jefferson was reelected to a second term.

Reaching from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River and from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, the Louisiana Purchase ensured that the U.S. would have ample room for expansion for years to come. Later four whole states (Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska) and parts of nine others (Louisiana, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota) were made from this vast area. It increased the reach of the agricultural class by securing large amounts of land and transportation networks. With uninhibited access to the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, goods and services could now be transported over greater distances. The U.S. economy could not help but expand.

Whatever its constitutional implications, the Louisiana Purchase was one of the most important presidential decisions in the nation's history. Through this purchase, the United States became a continental power, controlled the continent's main navigation routes, and became owner of vast new resources. These combined assets promised the young nation greater economic independence from Europe and set a precedent for future territorial expansion.

In order to realize the full potential of this uncharted land, President Jefferson dispatched a 35-member expedition to explore it. Led by U.S. Army officers Meriweather Lewis and William Clark, the expedition was to determine the most direct practicable water communication across the continent for commerce purposes, map the land, gather plant and animal specimens, collect soil and weather data, and record the details of all they saw. It was a large task. Between May 1804 and September 1806, the expedition sighted the Pacific Ocean before returning to St. Louis. The explorers did not find the much sought-after Northwest Passage, but the information they did acquire spurred the nation towards further expansion and settlement.

See also: Thomas Jefferson, Lewis and Clark Expedition, Napoleonic Wars (Economic Impact of)


FURTHER READING

Anderson, Michael. "The Public Lands." Constitution, Vol. 5, No. 2, Spring Summer 1993.

Balleck, Barry. "When the Ends Justify the Means: Thomas Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase." Presidential Quarterly, Vol. XVII, No. 4, Fall 1992.

Brown, Everett S. Constitutional History of the Louisiana Purchase 18031812. Berkley, CA: First University of California Press, 1920.

Jefferson, Thomas. The Limits and Bounds of Louisiana in Documents Relating to the Purchase and Exploration of Louisiana. Boston: Houghton and Mifflin and American Philosophical Society, 1904.

McDonald, Forest. The Presidency of Thomas Jefferson. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Press, 1976.

every eye in the united states is now focused on the affairs of louisiana.

thomas jefferson, in a letter to robert r. livingston, u.s. minister to paris, 1802

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Louisiana Purchase

Louisiana Purchase the territory sold by France to the US in 1803, comprising the western part of the Mississippi valley and including the modern state of Louisiana. The area had been explored by France, ceded to Spain in 1762, and returned to France in 1800.

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