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THE LOUISIANA PURCHASE




by: J. T. Lawson

Map From THE WORLD BOOK ENCYCLOPEDIA. (C) 1999 World Book, Inc. by permission of the publisher.

The Louisiana Purchase marked one of the largest, if not the largest, land transactions in history. The persons who played key roles in this transaction were Thomas Jefferson , Napoleon I of France, Robert R. Livingston, James Monroe, and Lewis and Clark.

The actual Treaty can be viewed.

The vast Louisiana Territory was purchased for 60 Million Francs or about $15,000,000.00 of which $11,250,000.00 was to be paid directly. The balance to be covered by the U.S. in the assumption of French debts to U. S. citizens. This territory included 800,000 square miles of land.

The purchase of the Louisiana territory came about as a result of concern to secure free navigation of the Mississippi River. President Jefferson sent Robert R. Livingston and James Monroe to negotiate with the government of the powerful Napoleon I for the sale of New Orleans. Since the aggressive French leader roused fears once France had just acquired Louisiana from the Spanish, Jefferson knew immediate action must be taken. Surprisingly, Napoleon offered not only to sell New Orleans, but the entire Louisiana territory.The treaty that Livingston and Monroe sent home aroused constitutional worries in Jefferson's mind. A Constitutional amendment would be extremely slow and Napoleon wanted the transaction finalized by a specific date. Since the nation was so young, issues such as the one at hand had not arisen before.

Jefferson had to make a decision and that he did. He acted without hesitation and left the matter to the people to decide. With the exception of a small number of Federalists in New England, the people overwhelmingly accepted Jefferson's actions. The Louisiana Purchase was by far the greatest achievement of his presidency.

This began exploration in the United States. Lewis and Clark were sent by Thomas Jefferson to explore the territory of the Louisiana Purchase.

If you would like to play the Louisiana Purchase Game Click Here.

Click Here For Teacher Resources.

Comments welcome jtlawson@access.k12.wv.us

For More Educational Links, go to the Lenore Middle School website.