The louisiana territory purchase.

Essay by studmfn683University, Bachelor's November 2003

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In 1803,Thomas Jefferson had the opportunity to secure a majestic western border, creating a safer country for all. With Louisiana safely in hand, the French threat would largely disappear, along with Napoleon's dreams of an American colonial empire. Jefferson's accomplishment in eliminating this threat is staggering, and even more so in the face of Napoleon. Many times, the French fought for control of Louisiana. In the Seven-Years war, the French were forced to cede the land to Spain, a decrepit monarchy that posed no threat to America. The threat of violence increased in 1799 when Napoleon executed a series of secret pacts and diplomatic moves, taking control of Louisiana once again. The intrinsic importance of the Louisiana territory cannot be overstated. The port of New Orleans represented the culmination point of the western American trade economy. Therefore, whoever owned Louisiana held a cudgel over the 'baby republic's' fragile head. Spain exploited this power the eve before selling the territory to France.

No goods could be held in New Orleans prior to shipment, decreed the Spanish government. The worried populace spoke of war, and realized how important that territory was: "Every eye in the United States is now fixed on the affairs of Louisiana," Jefferson wrote. In 1802, he also deemed it necessary to raise an eighty thousand-man militia for the protection of the Mississippi region. Nonetheless, he was not opposed to negotiation, sending his key diplomat, Robert Livingston and James Madison to beg, borrow, or buy Napoleon out of Louisiana. Surprisingly, the two men struck gold, buying the entire territory from a cash-strapped Napoleon for only fifteen million dollars.

However, a major issued loomed in Jefferson's mind. Although the Louisiana Purchase would double the size of the fledgling republic and ensure its new generation critical room for growth, Jefferson felt...