The territory that America holds today has not always been hers. Some of the territory was acquired after military interventions while others are from voluntary associations of the residents living in these territories. In some cases the territory was acquired financially, and the Louisiana Purchase is a prime example of this type of territorial acquisition. President Jefferson encouraged and oversaw the acquisition of the territory in 1803 from France. The acquisition cost the United States $15 million at the time, which is equivalent to $283 million in today’s currency value and they got 828,000 square miles of land (Herring, 2008). This territory was mostly unexplored and provided the fledging American nation with large tracts of fertile land. The move was not universally popular with the American people and brought a lot of problems for the administration. This paper will examine the Louisiana Purchase, its effects on the American people and the country as a whole.
The Louisiana Purchase
Before 1801, the territory known as Louisiana had been claimed by the Spanish as well as the French. After the French lost the Seven Years War to the British Spain got total control of the territory. The entire area was administrated from the city of New Orleans due to its strategic possession as a port and ease of accessibility to the area. The Americans were allowed to use the port of New Orleans as a place to store their goods for export. This served them well as it enabled them to easily access the sea whenever they wanted. However, in 1798 the Spaniards revoked this permission, leaving the Americans stranded (Ziegler, 1988). The weakened Spain later resold the territory to the French, and President Jefferson saw this as an opportunity to acquire New Orleans in order to avoid a repeat of the revocation incident. He sent James Monroe and Robert Livingston to Paris to negotiate for the acquisition of New Orleans, but during the negotiation the French offered the entire territory of Louisiana. Afraid that the French would later withdraw the offer and render them unable to purchase New Orleans, the negotiators signed the deal they were given, and thus the Louisiana Purchase earned its place in History (Malone, Roeder & Lang, 1991).
Domestic Objections Not everybody was on board with the idea of buying territory from the French. It was viewed as an unconstitutional move, and given that President Jefferson had been touted as a strict follower of the constitution, this purchase greatly undermined his philosophical consistency. He himself acknowledged that the act was unconstitutional, but the act was being done to benefit the American nation and its people, thus the greater good here undermined the unconstitutional nature of the deal. Those opposed to this idea voiced their concerns, stating that Napoleon first and foremost did not have the authority to sell the territory to the Americans (Herring, 2008). The acquisition would also mean that the French, Spanish and freed African Americans would have to be given American citizenship, something most of the people at the time did not support. All these concerns were dealt away with through political discussions, and those that were not were simply pushed under the carpet and the deal was concluded.
Impacts of the Louisiana Purchase
Political Impacts The purchase allowed America to completely avoid hostilities with both France and Britain at the time. The people supporting the Federalist movement at the time were calling for open war against Napoleon and France after his action of sending troops to secure New Orleans sparked fears of a preparation for a large scale French invasion. President Jefferson, in an effort to tone down the Federalists, threatened to form an alliance with Britain even though such an undertaking was almost implausible. The acquisition of the Louisiana Purchase rendered all these options unnecessary, thus…