Louisiana Purchase 1803

Louisiana Purchase 1803


The history of the United States of America is laden with numerous occasions and events, some of which were negative while others were positive. Wars and revolutions, as well as movements have shaped the country into what it is today and given the nation fundamental pillars and lessons on how to tackle varied issues in the future. However, there exist quite a number of positive aspects or events in its history, events that affected the country and shaped its destiny for years to come. These mainly involved territorial expansion. Any country acknowledges that the territory is one of its most fundamental aspects. In fact, it is recognized as one of the fundamental pillars of its sovereignty, in which case it is always guarded, with any violations of the same by any other country brewing conflicts some of which may be violent. In essence, the varied instances of territorial expansion marked a crucial instance in its history with an incredible influence on the future of the United States (Burgan, 2002). One of the most crucial territorial expansions of the United States was the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.

The Louisiana Purchase (1803) refers to a land deal that was struck between France and the United States that allowed the United States to acquire about 827,000 miles square of a piece of land that was situated or lay west of the Mississippi River through the payment of 15 million dollars (Burgan, 2002). The United States president at that time, President Jefferson deemed the expansion necessary especially as pertining to the United States security. In the spread of the United States across the Appalachians, the United States acknowledged the increased importance of the Mississippi River as a conduit or channel for transporting produce from the West (Burgan, 2002). At that time, the west was a piece of land that lay between Mississippi and the Appalachians. The Spain had occupied the Louisiana territory for close to four decades (since 1762), including 828 square miles. This is the territory that today comprises or at least an enormous component of the separate states that lay between the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi River.

However, there were constant conflicts between the United States. These conflicts were mainly revolving around the right to plot a route in the Mississippi. It is worth noting that, a resolution to the Americans’ entitlement towards transporting or transferring their goods and produce to ocean-going vessels situated in New Orleans had already been made in the Pinckney Treaty of 1795 (Burgan, 2002). The making of the Pinckney Treaty, coupled with the weak control of the Louisiana territory by the Spanish empire, gave American statesmen the idea that the United States efforts to expand westward would face no restriction in the long run.

However, Napoleon Bonaparte had intentions of reviving the French Empire. His long-term goal was to use Louisiana territory as his empire’s granary once he had recapture St. Domingue, an incredibly valuable sugar colony from slave rebellion. In essence, Louisiana changed hands from Spain to France in 1800, taking possession of the territory in 1802, a situation that was seen as a threat to the United States (Burgan, 2002). This is especially considering that the French sent enormous French armies to St. Domingue, intending to send even more armies to New Orleans. This bred apprehension in westerners who dreaded the prospects of relatively more powerful French controlling the New Orleans. In fact, this was bound to be a point of conflict as President Jefferson acknowledged that the possessor of New Orleans would automatically be a threat, habitual and natural enemy of the United States. In essence, President Jefferson started preparing for a military conflict between the United States and France in Mississippi Valley (Burgan, 2002). At the same time, he dispatched John Monroe to France where he would join Robert Livingston and float the offer of 10 million dollars for purchasing the West Florida and the New Orleans. It is worth noting that if such attempts were to fail, the United States meant to establish a military alliance with England.

Nevertheless, the prospects of war were averted after Napoleon shelved his plans for Louisiana. In fact, he offered the two the entire Louisiana territory for 15 million dollars. This had been necessitated by the fact that his army in St. Domingue was dying in large numbers from the yellow fever, not to mention the prospects of war between England and France. The two men agreed to the deal despite the fact that it far exceeded the orders that were given as pertaining to the price. This is how the United States came to purchase the Louisiana territory (Burgan, 2002).

Needless to say, the purchase of Louisiana in 1803 had consequences both in the long-term, as well as the short-term. One of the effects of the purchase was with regard to the implied powers and authority of the Federal government. It is worth noting that, as much as President Jefferson and the United States in its entity was elated by the prospects of owning the Louisiana territory, the constitution did not incorporate any provision that gave him the power to buy any territory (Levinson & Sparrow, 2005). However, the entire or a large percentage of the American public supported the purchase, acknowledging the immense value that Louisiana had for the growth of the United States in the future. In essence, President Jefferson, despite the gaps in the constitution, went ahead and made the purchase, choosing to do without the passage of a constitutional amendment that would have validated the purchase (Burgan, 2002). This, therefore, cemented the notion of implied powers of the federal government. The purchase exposed the silence of the United States constitution with regard to the country’s geographic expansion or growth (Levinson & Sparrow, 2005). It revealed a number of flaws and contradictions that are inherent in the political system of the United States. These included the existence of the United States territories as a collection of states, as well as the contradiction pertaining to the definitions of, as well as rights that accrued to citizens of states and those of the acquired territories in a democratic United States (Levinson & Sparrow, 2005).

In addition, the 1803 Louisiana Purchase cultivated increased growth and development of the United States and led to or resulted in the establishment of what John Marshall termed as the American Empire (Levinson & Sparrow, 2005). In fact, scholars note that the purchase of Louisiana paved the way for the position in which the United States is today with regard to its military, economic and political leviathan that incorporates both non-state and state areas in its domain (Levinson & Sparrow, 2005). They note that Louisiana Purchase was a prerequisite for the Missouri Compromise, its subsequent overruling in Dred Scott, the westward expansion of slaver, as well as the 1861 ultimate conflagration of the Missouri Compromise.

In addition, the Louisiana Purchase is credited with the multicultural and heterogeneous society that the United States has become today (Levinson & Sparrow, 2005). This is especially having in mind that an enormous number of people who inhabited Louisiana did not fall under the category of Native Americans, black slaves or even the white northern Europeans, which are the categories that are associated with the early America republic.


Burgan, M. (2002). The Louisiana Purchase. Minneapolis, Minn: Compass Point Books.

Levinson, S., & Sparrow, B. H. (2005). The Louisiana Purchase and American expansion, 1803-1898. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

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