The year of 1803 significantly changed our nation eternally. It stunned many people. In no way, shape or form, did we ever believe that our nation would expand so rapidly. What started with the small purchase of New Orleans led into the substantial purchase of the Louisiana Territory. This was a purchase that will make Thomas Jefferson a man to be remembered. Although, he wasn’t the only man who impacted the United States during this time period. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark are the two men that are greatly known for their expedition across the Louisiana Territory. These two subjects, the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark Expedition, altered our nation immeasurably.
The Louisiana Purchase came as a surprise that neither Thomas Jefferson nor anyone else had ever dreamed of. It began with Thomas Jefferson sending two men, James Monroe and Robert R. Livingston, to Paris to negotiate the acquisition of New Orleans with the government of the feared Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon had roused fears once France acquired Louisiana from the Spanish. Concerned with French intentions, Thomas Jefferson took immediate action and sent his two men to negotiate. The negotiation didn’t go as intended at all. We asked to buy New Orleans, but Napoleon offered the entire Louisiana Territory. Apparently, Napoleon had little use for Louisiana. He also couldn’t spare any troops to defend the enormous amount of territory. Napoleon needed funds more than anything, so he could support his military ventures in Europe. This led to the exhilarating time of April, 1803 when Napoleon offered to sell Louisiana to the United States.
The primary reason Thomas Jefferson dispatched James Monroe and Robert R. Livingston to negotiate was because we were concerned about French intentions. Napoleon threatened to block American access from the vastly essential port of New Orleans on the Mississippi River. New American settlements west of the Appalachian Mountains depended on river transportation to transport their goods because overland trade was very expensive and impractical. Also, the United States wanted a tract of land on the lower Mississippi. James Monroe, the primary negotiator in Paris, was empowered to obtain New Orleans and West Florida for anywhere between two and ten million dollars. Surprisingly, however, Napoleon offered much more. The United States was given the opportunity to buy the Louisiana Territory, which stretched from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains. This one transaction doubled the physical size of the United States and cost our nation fifteen million dollars. Fifteen million dollars came out to approximately three cents an acre. Now this seems like a relatively small sum for such a massive amount of land, but it was still a gigantic price tag for the modest federal budget of the day.
Thomas Jefferson had mixed emotions about the Louisiana Purchase. On one hand, he knew it would be a grand opportunity, and the United States would...