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The Louisiana Purchase And President Thomas Jefferson

861 words - 4 pages

The Louisiana Purchase was a monumental shift in land ownership for the United States, doubling its size with the stroke of a pen. After France sold all of its land in North America to the United States, a massive 828,000 square miles was opened to any Americans who were willing to pack their bags and leave in search of the possibility of a better life. Napoleon’s immediate need for money prompted him to offer all of what would later be called the Louisiana Purchase to the United States in 1803. With the addition of a vast, virtually untouched land, families began to move West in search of better lives. The Louisiana Purchase was a constitutional decision Jefferson made due to the specific power for the President to negotiate treaties as stated in the Constitution of the United States (Art. II, Sec. 2). The acquisition brought in new land for Americans and was considered President Jefferson’s greatest and most controversial achievement while in office.
The Louisiana Purchase was negotiated at a time when France, was in dire need of funds for the Napoleonic Wars in Europe. The United States wished to own New Orleans for trading. Jefferson sent James Madison, Jefferson’s Secretary of State and Robert Livingston, the U.S. minister to France to offer $2 million for the port of New Orleans. After negotiating, Napoleon countered their offer with $15 million for all of the Louisiana territory and previous debts to be paid. Without waiting for congressional approval, Livingston quickly conducted the transaction with France. Most Americans supported the transaction due to the amount of cheap land acquired.
Although the Louisiana Purchase was great for Mr. Jefferson at first glance, Jefferson’s critics were quick to point out that nowhere in the Constitution was the President allowed to acquire land without the approval of Congress. By acting without Congress’ approval, Jefferson was labelled as an “Imperial President” (Ellis 205). Over the period of Jefferson’s two Presidential terms, a change occurred of how Mr. Jefferson viewed the Constitution. The change that occurred was Jefferson’s view point evolving from strict construction to loose construction. This change was made evident during Jefferson’s presidency which started with the Louisiana Purchase.
Due to Jefferson’s decision to support the Louisiana Purchase, Jefferson faced criticism from both of the prominent political parties, the Democratic Republicans and the Federalists. Democratic Republicans felt that Jefferson had disregarded state’s rights when he signed the Louisiana Purchase without the approval of each state’s delegates. Due to time limitations and fear of Napoleon removing the offer for...

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