“The fertility of the country, its climate and extent, promise in due season important aids to our treasury, an ample provision for our prosperity, and a wide-spread field for the blessings of freedom.” The Louisiana Purchase is one of the most familiar land purchases in US history. It significantly enlarged the size of the United States. The Louisiana Purchase was an influential moment for a new society.
There were many reasons for the large purchase. The future protection, expansion, prosperity and the wonders of unknown territory. The land involved 830,000 square miles and eventually became 15 states which includes Louisiana, Missouri, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Arkansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma. It also includes some of Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Texas, New Mexico and Minnesota.
It also included 2 Canadian Provinces, Alberta and Saskatchewan. The Louisiana territory was founded on April 9, 1682. French Explorer Lord Robert Cavelier put up a cross near the mouth of the Mississippi. He vowed the name of “the most high, mighty, invincible and victorious Prince. Louis the Great, by Grace of God king of France and Navarre, the 14th of that name.” The land thereafter would be known as Louisiana.
In 1718, French Explorer Jean-Baptitse le Moyne found a settlement and named it la Nouvelle Orléans and regent of France. The population by the Louisiana Purchase was whites, slaves of African origin and free slaves totaled around 8,000. In 1802, the Louisiana Territory became Napoleon’s after he reached an agreement with King Charles IV of Spain. Jefferson was accustomed with the French because he served time in Europe as an American Representative. He also understood the danger a French Administration posed as a neighbor that had complete control over the Mississippi River. In January 1803, Thomas Jefferson sent James Monroe who was a close personal friend and political ally of Jefferson’s to France to meet up with Robert R.
Livingston a prominent lawyer and US Minister of France to try and buy some part of the territory from the Napoleon government, in order to intercept a potential armed war. Jefferson talking to Monroe said “all eyes, all hopes, are now fixed on you, for on the event of this mission depends the future destinies of this republic.” Monroe had a $10 million budget to purchase New Orleans and part of Florida. With this purchase that country would hold supremacy over the United States. These two areas would give United States ownership of the mouth of the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico.
However, upon arriving in Europe four months later, Monroe found out that Napoleon had decided to sell the entire territory to the United States for $22 million in order to invest his military endeavor in Europe. After 18 days of negotiations, Monroe, Livingston, and Barbé-Marbois made a deal to purchase the territory for $15 million equivalent to $298,156,299.21 in 2018 which was over his budget by $5 million or $111,698,672.57 today. They placed a down payment of $3 million in Gold and paid the remainder in Bonds which France cashed to pay their debts.
It took months for Jefferson to receive the news in Washington, D.C. The announcement was made on July 4, 1803.
United States would not formally take possession until December 30th 1803. While everyone agreed with the purchase, there were still complications. Deals would need to be settled with Great Britain and Spain over mutual borders. How was such a large amount of money spent on a territory allowed under the constitution? Jefferson was a strict constructionist. Which means he likes to obey the constitution. The rights to purchase property from other countries was not listed in the constitution. The federalists were quick to point that out to the President.
Jefferson had to create an amendment to finish the deal with France. In 1803, Jefferson wrote to John Dickinson and said “The General Government has no powers but such as the constitution gives it, it has not given it power of holding foreign territory, and still less of incorporating it until the Union. An Amendment of the Constitution seems necessary for this.” Jefferson’s company, including James Madison who is known as the “Father of the Constitution” disagreed about the need for an amendment. Jefferson had also been promised earlier by his Treasury Secretary, Albert Gallatin, that any deal with France would be allowed under the constitution’s decision-making treaties. Many of the people involved in the Federalist party believed that Jefferson would object to the purchase if the roles were reversed. They also thought that buying the land from France would alienate Great Britain, which they needed as an ally.
The Federalists tried to stop the purchase by saying it belonged to Spain and not France. The Federalists were unable to find any evidence that proved this theory. The House of Representatives took it to a vote, but failed by a small amount. There were 59 in favor and 57 against. Another concern over the purchase was the Westerners clashing with the Easterners in the original 13 colonies, especially the people of New England. There was some hesitation because the number of states that allowed Slavery would also increase. There was even more controversy with the French, Spanish, and free Africans living in the Louisiana territory.
Congress had to debate whether or not to give these people United States citizenship. Thomas Jefferson’s advisors were able to settle the dispute over the purchase. They also pointed out that the president has the right to enter treaties with leaders of other countries. The Louisiana Purchase was part of a treaty with Napoleon so therefore it was not unconstitutional.
The Louisiana Territory was rich in gold, silver, and other ores. The huge forest cover helped the growth of the industry. All these factors contributed to the wealth and economy of United States and opened opportunities for expanding westward and greater farming. The purchase of the Louisiana Territory led to the Lewis and Clark Expedition, led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, to explore the territory.
The United States purchased the Louisiana Territory at a price of 3 cents per acre. In todays prices that would be equivalent to $2500.00 an acre. In conclusion, after weeks of negotiation Thomas Jefferson’s decision to the purchase of the Louisiana Territory was one of the most influential purchases of all times. It was the first land purchase of its kind and led the United States to become the third largest country in the world.
The Louisiana Territory stretched from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian border. 15 states were eventually created in the land deal. The decision to purchase the Louisiana Territory was very strong and courageous, not many Presidents today would make a land deal as great as the Louisiana Territory.