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    United States History: The Louisiana Purchase Essay

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    The Louisiana Purchase was a vast region in North America, that the United States purchased from France by a treaty signed on Apr. 30, 1803. The Louisiana Territory contained more than 2 million sq km (800,000 sq mi) of land extending from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains.

    The territory comprised present-day Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota west of the Mississippi River, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, nearly all of Kansas, the portions of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado east of the Rocky Mountains, and Louisiana west of the Mississippi River but including New Orleans. The price was 60 million francs, about $15 million, $11,250,000 was to be paid directly, with the balance to be covered by the assumption by the United States of French debts to American citizens. In 1762, France had ceded Louisiana to Spain, but by the secret Treaty of San Ildefonso, (1800) the French had regained the area. Napoleon Bonaparte (the future Emperor Napoleon I) envisioned a great French empire in the New World, and he hoped to use the Mississippi Valley as a food and trade center to supply the island of Hispania, which was to be the heart of this empire. First, however, he had to restore French control of Hispania, where Haitian slaves under Toussaint L’ Ouverture had seized power (1801). In 1802, a large army sent by Napoleon under his brother-in-law, Charles Leclerc, arrived on the island to suppress the Haitian rebellion.

    Also in 1802, two acts were committed that President Thomas Jefferson, who was concerned about French intentions, regarded as hostile to the interests of the U. S. . French forces were sent to New Orleans and to Santo Domingo, Hispania (now the Dominican Republic), to quell a rebellion there.

    The other was the right of deposit, the privilege previously accorded U. S. merchants of depositing goods at New Orleans pending transshipment, was withdrawn. Jefferson thereupon sent the American statesman James Monroe to Paris to aid the American minister to France, Robert R.

    Livingston, in an attempt to affect one of four possible plans advantageous to the U. S. The plans are (1) to purchase of eastern and western Florida and New Orleans; (2) the purchase of New Orleans alone; (3) the purchase of land on the eastern bank of the Mississippi River to build an American port; or (4) the acquisition of perpetual rights of navigation and deposit. Despite some military success, the French lost thousands of soldiers, mainly to yellow fever, and Napoleon soon realized that Hispania must be abandoned. Without that island, he had little use for Louisiana.

    Facing renewed war with Great Britain, he could not spare troops to defend the territory; he needed funds, moreover, to support his military ventures in Europe. Accordingly, in April 1803 he offered to sell Louisiana to the United States. The price agreed on was $15 million, of which $11,250,000 was to be paid outright by the U. S. to France.

    The balance of $3,750,000 was to be paid by the U. S. to its citizens to satisfy their claims against France. When all of this news returned to Jefferson was ecstatic.

    At one stroke, the United States would double its size, an enormous tract of land would be open to settlement, and the free navigation of the Mississippi would be assured. At the time of purchase, Jefferson was concerned about the constitutionality of making a land acquisition without adding a covering amendment to the U. S. Constitution. The law of the land, however, did give the president treaty-making power, and Jefferson concluded that the practical benefits to the nation far outweigh the possible violation of the Constitution.

    The Senate concurred with this decision and voted ratification on Oct. 20, 1803. The Spanish, who had never given up physical possession of Louisiana to the French, did so in a ceremony at New Orleans on Nov. 30, 1803. In a second ceremony, on Dec.

    20, 1803, the French turned Louisiana over to the United States. Disputes with Britain and Spain over the boundaries of the purchase took years to resolve. Some of the other problems that occurred when the land was purchased was what was the government going to do about the Indians and how they lived before this .

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