The purchase of the Louisiana territory was a land deal between France and the United States. The land was purchased at $15 million and was one of the highlights of the Jefferson Presidency. Initially before the purchase, Jefferson had made speculation of possession of the territory through drafting a letter to Livingstone. Before the year 1795 there had been constant conflicts over the navigation of the Mississippi. After Napoleon took position of leadership in France in the year, 1799 he purposed to restore’s so that its presence could be felt in the continent.
There had been a crisis on Louisiana possession and it got to peak on the year 1802. During this period Charles IV the king of Spain agreed to the transfer of the territory to France. The American’s gained access to the warehouses centered at the ports during this period which caused an outrage of action in the United States. President Jefferson together with the secretary of the United States purposed to resolve the conflict through diplomatic negotiations and channels. This was the basis for the negotiations of the purchase of Louisiana.
France was in possession of approximately 828,000 square miles of land located west of the Mississippi stretching all the way the Gulf of Mexico to the south and Canada to the northern side. Upon purchasing the land, United States managed to double the size of the young nation. It can be termed, as one of President Jefferson biggest achievements is his time.
After a series of explorations in the 17th century France took control of the Mississippi Valley and areas around it. It controlled the largest areas as compared to any other European state. The area that was under the French stretched for modern day Montana, then covering the great lakes and stretching all the way to New Orleans. After the French and Indian war of 1754-1763 Spain took control of French Louisiana, which was the area west of the Mississippi. Spain was not a so dominant power in the United States at the time and did very little to develop the area after the acquisition.
In 1801 French purchased the land back in the secret treaty of San Ildefonso between the two colonial powers. (Fleming, 2003) This retrocession caused a lot of uneasiness among the American Settlers. They were heavily dependent on the free access of the Mississippi river and the port of New Orleans. At the time Napoleon Bonaparte was in power, and they feared that he would restrict their access. In buying the area, Napoleon aimed to establish a French controlled commercial basin that consisted of the West Indian Islands of Saint Dominguez, Guadalupe, and Martinique. (Fleming, 2003)
All these Islands linked to Louisiana would be very strategic to the French.
Despite the acquisition of this land causing a lot of tension, a treaty that had been signed in 1795 between France and the United States recognized the free use if the river by the United States. It also allowed the United States to use the port of New Orleans and the warehouses. Upon the Louisiana Purchase, French agents restricted the Americans from using the port and the warehouses and were acting on court orders. This led to a crisis as the Americans were agitated by the turn of events. Some members in the United States government and the oppositions called for war, but Jefferson opted for a diplomatic move to resolve the crisis
Thomas Jefferson who was the third United States president tasked Livingstone to negotiate the purchase of New Orleans from Charles Maurice de Talleyrand the then French Minister. Livingston did not achieve much, and the situation was escalating, so Jefferson sent James Monroe t go and help Livingstone with the negotiations in Paris, France. Jefferson also went ahead and asked the Senate what came to be known as the “Lewis and Clark expedition” to France. (Brecher, 2006)
He sent aside $10 million for the purchase of the New Orleans and part of Florida and if that was not possible Monroe and his team should at least try to just buy New Orleans or secure the free use of the Mississippi river and the port. The president had set aside $10M for the purchase, which he entrusted Monroe. Being a former member of congress and Virginia governor Monroe sold his businesses to respond to the call by the president and March 8, 1803 he sailed to France to join Livingston in Paris.
When Monroe got to Paris, he found a different offer on the table. The French army sent to St Dominguez to take control of the island had been decimated by yellow fever hence presenting a huge challenge to Napoleon’s plans. Livingstone informed Monroe that the Charles Maurice de Talleyrand had agreed to dispose of the whole of Louisiana but for $15 million. (Brecher, 2006)
An agreement was reached on July 4th, 1803 and the treaty ratifications had to complete by October. Despite not having the time to get the exact boundaries Jefferson accepted the offer and ratified the treaty. He did encounter a lot challenges with getting the deal ratified by the senate. According to the constitution the government had no powers to hold foreign land and the only way the delay could be ratified was through a constitutional amendment. The deal was popular with the masses but he had experienced some difficulties from the senate. Those in his cabinet, like James Madison was not happy with the deal and they opposed it. Jefferson had to use the constitution to his advantage despite the fact that it was explicitly stated that the president did not have direct powers.
The Senate also approved it on October 20th of the same year. Spain was not happy with the sale but did not have the military capacity to block it. They officially returned the territory to France and America took possession of the land on the 30th of December 1803.
Impact of the Louisiana Purchase
The purchase could not have happened at any other better time. It was a key event that worked in maintaining the peace with the French colonial master. Prior to the purchase Juan Morales who was the Spanish administrator at the port on New Orleans had barred the Americans for using the port. His argument was that America’s 3-year period of using the port and passing through Spanish territory; that is Mississippi had expired. His decision to bar the Americans from the port angered the natives who relied on the port heavily. This led to a threat of violence as the Americans wanted to take the port by force.
Lawmakers such as James Ross who was stationed in Pennsylvania drafted a call for the Americans to from a 50,000 man strong army that would be used to capture the port from the Spaniards. The Sale was implemented this could happen hence averted a large-scale violence. Jefferson
The Louisiana Purchase is probably one of the most remarkable events of Jefferson’s presidency. He bought an acre at less than 3 cents and this eventually led to the massive expansion of America. The expansion to the west commenced immediately. In the year 1804 an official establishment of the territorial government was made. After a period of nine years in the year 1812 after the agreement of Louisiana Purchase, Louisiana which was carved from the territory was established as the 18th state of the United States.
In History the Louisiana Purchase is considered as the greatest deal in the real estate industry. The treaty was officially signed in 1803 April 30th. The legislative timeline of the purchase lasted 1802-1807. During this timeline the role of the Congress was assigned a responsibility of ratifying the treaty, handling the confrontation issues between Spain over the boundary, government territorial establishment and it was assigned a limited role in Clark and Lewis expedition.
It is important to note that the Louisiana Purchase contradicted the role and objective of debt reduction. However, in comparison to the gain articulated, 15 million dollars was relatively very small for the amount of land that was acquired by the United States. On the criticisms, Jefferson did not follow his strict constitution interpretation. According to the federalists the constitution did not approve of the purchase of new territory. Not that Jefferson was settled on his inconsistencies. However, his decisions were settled on the fact that the constitution created an allowance to act.
In summation of it all, the ability of Jefferson to make the Louisiana Purchase depicts outstanding pragmatic political decisions. His decisions were contrary to the central principle. However, the expansion of America on the westwards was very important to him, and it was a bold action to take. The gains from the transactions are dramatic because the territory that was acquired would in turn add 13 more states to the United States. The Louisiana restores many legal codes that don’t follow English traditions of the common law.
Brecher, F. W. (2006). Negotiating the Louisiana Purchase: Robert Livingston’s mission to France, 1801-1804. Jefferson, NC: McFarland &.
Fleming, T. J. (2003). The Louisiana Purchase. Hoboken, NJ: J. Wiley.