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The Louisiana Purchase: The History According to Monticello and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation

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Monticello and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation provide an in depth explanation of the Louisiana purchase and it conveys insight to the importance of the negotiations. Monticello is owned and operated by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc., which was founded in 1923. As a private, nonprofit 501(c)3 corporation, the Foundation receives no ongoing federal, state, or local funding in support of its dual mission of preservation and education (monticello.org).The Louisiana Purchase was, by far, the most colossal acquisition of land that the United States ever invested in. This purchase took place in 1803, and was a deal between the United States and France. In this negotiation, America attained approximately 827,000 square miles of land west of the of the Mississippi River for $15 million. The entire Louisiana situation came to a crisis in October 1802 when Spain’s King Charles IV signed a decree giving the territory to France, and the Spanish court revoked America’s access to the New Orleans port’s warehouse. This created indignation in the United States. James Monroe was later sent with Livingston to Paris as a minister extraordinary. They were sent to only obtain the purchase of New Orleans and parts of Florida if possible. Napoleon Bonaparte had a different mindset. He was prepared to sell all of Louisiana. Monroe and Livingston capitalized on this offer and made the purchase for $15 million. This later was considered “a fugitive occurrence” by Jefferson. The Louisiana Purchase served as an integral milestone for the future of the American lifestyle and economy.

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The purchased territory included the whole of today’s Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska, parts of Minnesota and Louisiana west of the Mississippi, big parts of North and northeastern New Mexico, South Dakota, northern Texas, some parts of Wyoming, Montana, and Colorado. This means that the deal has contributed to about two thirds of the states in this country. Without the purchase of Louisiana, the United States would indubitably not be the same. We would have lost an abundance of culture and most likely would have never gained authority over the rest of the western part of this continent. The Louisiana Purchase facilitated Westward expansion, which created the mentality of constant expansion in American society. The frontier created an atmosphere of pioneering energy throughout the United States that contributed to its development, as well as to the nationalism of the American people.With the loss of that side of North America, the Monroe Doctrine would have never been drafted or signed. This doctrine was the pinnacle of means for American westward expansion, while the Louisiana Purchase only provided the way for it. The Monroe Doctrine was probably the first document since The Declaration of Independence redefined the who, what and where The United States was. If the purchase has not occurred, serious differences would exist in the United States economy and foreign relations.

If the Louisiana Purchase had not taken place, the United States would not be one country from coast to coast. We would have a territory of France in the middle southern section of the United States. That territory would have a separate government, with its own laws, military, and law enforcement. A French territory would not be subject to the United States government at all. Trading between the French territory could only happen through treaties between the United States and France. To travel through the territory to go to a part of the United States on the other side, one would need a passport and a visa. Since the United States and the territory would share the same Gulf Coast, many issues could arise, for example, the issue of territory for fishing, the issue of border protection, and the issue shipping. Presumptively, the people in a French territory would speak French, thus requiring people along the border to learn French, too, or requiring the need of translators for many situations. We also would have never obtained New Orleans peacefully, and our access of the ports there would still be revoked. This would cause a serious setback in the American economy. The purchase not only added a huge expanse of French territory to the U.S., but also allowed for U.S. expansion into land all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The land of the Louisiana Purchase lay between the original colonies and the Pacific Ocean. Now that the land in between was in their hands, American could access the far West of present day United States territory. Without this land, the California Gold Rush would not have been a part of the American economy. Generations of immigrants may have been affected by the California Dream of finding gold. California oil drillers, farmer, airplane builders, and movie makers all had their rise during the decades proceeding the Gold Rush. These increasing fluctuations in the economy would have never been possible without the Louisiana Purchase.

The American economy and lifestyle has blatantly been affected by the single largest purchase of land in the world. The purchase has paved the way for American expansion on all fronts. The alternate realities are abundant and most of them are not good for the United States. They vary from our economy being destroyed and our dollar never becoming the basis for the foreign exchange rate, to being tangled into quagmires with the Spanish, French, and British. There are arguments that suggest the country would remain the same due to Manifest Destiny and for our own national security. These claims are extremely unlikely due to the United State’s old state in the world. We did not have the man power or the economic success to take authority over that part of the continent. The Louisiana Purchase was an essential negotiation to ensure to future success and prosperity of the United States.

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