In 1803, the Louisiana Purchase was an enormous land sale that took place from France to the United States. It was Thomas Jefferson’s most important act and legacy. The Louisiana Purchase allowed the French to acquire large areas of land. This acquisition also gave the United States much more southern and midwestern land. Thomas Jefferson said that “every eye” in America is now focused on the Louisiana matter. The Revolutionary War, perhaps more than any other war, has created a more uncomfortable sensation in the nation’s body” (Louisiana Purchase). The historic deal allowed for forward expansion of America’s economy and exploration.
After the French and Indian Wars in 1802, which saw the defeat of France by the United States, the Louisiana Purchase was made. France signed land over to Britain and Spain after its defeat. Spain was granted New Orleans. This city was used by the United States for export goods stockades. Spain acknowledged this and permitted the United States access to this port through the Pinckney Treaty. Spain had been struggling to establish its foothold in New World. Spain therefore considered the possibility of transferring its territory from Spain to France. France’s control over Louisiana could lead to massive economic sanctions. France and the United Kingdom were the two world superpowers at the time. However, the unease in the newly formed United States was caused by the leader of France. Napoleon Bonaparte, who was elected to power 1799, had the ambitious goal of making France great yet again. Bonaparte’s military brilliance and the desire to see France rise above the war debt it incurred by supporting the colonies for independence would make any deal with France futile and pointless. The United States was also at risk of another war because of the French territory it had gained. Bonaparte wasn’t the only war mongrel who made it difficult to reach a deal for the Louisiana Territory. The Federalist Party was also not willing to follow diplomatic procedures. They wanted to seize the territory and declare war. These events prompted Jefferson to urgently negotiate with France in order to end the troubles of a nation.
Due to the complicated and difficult circumstances, Thomas Jefferson made the purchase of Louisiana territory his legacy. Thomas Jefferson needed to act immediately to ensure the survival of the nation he had worked so hard to build and protect. With the nomination of James Monroe to the position of Minister Extraordinary, Jefferson’s plan for gaining the territory was put into practice in January 1803. Monroe was a close friend of Jefferson and a political ally. He also wanted the territory. Jefferson stated that Monroe was a close friend and political ally. “All eyes and hopes are now focused on you… because on the event this mission depends on the future fates of this republic.” (Louisiana Purchase). Monroe was appointed to sell the land. Three options were available to Monroe: The first was to buy land east of Mississippi, Florida or Louisiana. Both of these transactions could fail. He was required to negotiate New Orleans’ use as a point for trade. The purchase was limited to ten million dollars.
Monroe would have been en-route now to France and would be amazed when he arrived in Paris. He would also avoid the need to show force for the two nations. Napoleon’s plan to restore France’s supremacy in the New World was quickly falling apart. Also, with the recent failure to quell a Saint Domingue uprising, France wouldn’t be able to deploy troops to defend Louisiana. Napoleon’s minister in finance also misunderstood the value of Louisiana and said to Napoleon that it wasn’t worth the effort to preserve without Saint Domingue. Monroe arrived in Paris knowing that France was ready to hand over Louisiana to America. Negotiations took place that resulted in the sale of all Louisiana territory. France agreed that the territory would be sold for fifteen million dollars by April 30th.
Monroe arrived immediately and Louisiana was sold. But, the news got home a little slower. It was nevertheless received with the same amazement as Monroe. The news of sale didn’t reach America until July 4th. There was also much controversy among Jefferson’s cabinet about where the new land should be placed. These boundaries were not to conflict with Spain’s territories in the south and France in the north. His cabinet was split on whether to amend or let the purchase proceed without approval from the United States. As Jefferson felt that an unapproved amendment to the Constitution would create an uprising in addition to a negative view of the purchase, tensions rose again. The problem was that the United States didn’t have the entire amount promised to Napoleon. They would need to borrow money at two of Europe’s biggest banks. With no time left to amend the agreement, Jefferson accepted the purchase. The issue was then sent to Congress for approval. It was approved by a 24-7 vote. Jefferson had doubts regarding the Constitutionality of the Deal, as evidenced by the quote, “… stretched it until it had cracked.” (Greenspan 2013, 2013). This would be forever etched in American history as the largest real-estate transaction and a rare chance for the United States to avoid conflict so quickly after its independence.
The United States was forever transformed by the Louisiana Purchase. It allowed the United States to grow forward, as well as other national events like Manifest Destiny (the Civil War) and the Civil War. Thomas Jefferson left a legacy that allowed the nation to develop and become its own power. The United States no longer had tariffs to Spain to use New Orleans. This also allowed land development that quickly elevated the United States to a global power. This deal enabled people to reach the west and begin the United States’ development. It also maintained the dream to self-preservation, freedom and the ability to achieve ones own goals.