The United States of America experienced a variety of watershed moments that changed the country drastically. The most significant events include the terrorist attack on September 9, the Vietnam War, Race Relations, Kennedy’s Assassination, and the Civil War. The Louisiana Purchase is considered to be one of the most crucial events in the history of the country. Some scholars even state that it is the third most significant occasion after the proclamation of the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the creation of the Constitution. The Louisiana Purchase is the greatest deal of America that doubled its territory and brought the country power and wealth.
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Primary Causes for Purchase
Tomas Jefferson was the president of the U.S. when the Louisiana Purchase took place. The primary intention of Jefferson was not to obtain such a vast territory as Louisiana. The country needed an access to river route for trade. The Mississippi was the ideal chance to enhance trade relations between settlers and Native Americans. However, the river did not belong to the U.S. It belonged to France in 1682. Later, in 1762, France gave the rights for the river to Spain.
The second cause for the purchase of Louisiana was the need to buy land to prevent the expansion of France. Napoleon Bonaparte aimed at establishing his empire in Europe and North America. Jefferson did not plan to buy Louisiana, but he wanted to expand territories by purchasing New Orleans. The third cause occurred when Napoleon failed to seize Saint-Dominque (modern Haiti). After the failure, France needed financial resources to continue the war (Raum, 2013).
The access to the river was critical for the efficient development of the American commerce. Although Louisiana belonged to Spain, Jefferson happened to know about Napoleon’s secret plan concerning that land. The primary aim of that plan was to restore French Empire in North America. For this purpose, Bonaparte needed to possess Louisiana. In 1802, the situation with Louisiana became critical. The King of Spain, Charles IV, signed the law about the return of the land to France. This act blocked the access to the port for Americans. Such a situation was a disaster for American people. Jefferson and Madison (Secretary of State) faced the problem of finding peaceful solutions.
The President realized the need to conduct negotiations. In 1803, he sent Robert Livingston and James Monroe to Paris. The first representative was the U.S. Minister to France, and the second — Jefferson’s friend and associate. The task of Monroe was to arrange the buying of land on the east side of the Mississippi. Monroe had to present the readiness to buy New Orleans and Florida for $10 million. Jefferson’s despair was great as far as he told Monroe to agree on everything including at least the access to the river. However, when the representatives arrived, the situation changed dramatically.
It was already mentioned that Napoleon’s army failed to invade Saint-Dominque. France was on the edge of the war with Britain. The Minister of Finance in France recommended Bonaparte to sell Louisiana to America as far as this land would be of no use without Saint-Dominque. Thus, the U.S. bought 827 000 square miles for $15 million in 1803 (Louisiana Purchase, n.d.).
Effects of the Louisiana Purchase
The Louisiana Purchase had several significant effects on the U.S:
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- The U.S. territory doubled. Such an expansion brought power and might to the country;
- More resources. The U.S. organized numerous explorations of new lands and found a lot of useful resources that enhanced the trade;
- The better trade resulted in the increasing taxes. Consequently, the country became prosperous;
- Sharp conflicts concerning slavery occurred. The territory of the U.S. became divided into South and North. Two parts of the country represented remarkably different attitudes towards slavery (Mannino, 2013);
- Population increased drastically. Besides, new residents were representatives of various nationalities. It was the time when the American multiculturalism began;
- The government became more democratic after the expansion.
The current prosperity of the United States of America is largely influenced by its vast territories and numerous resources. The Louisiana Purchase became a watershed moment in the U.S. history as far as it doubled the size of the country and enhanced its opulence. Finally, I should add that this watershed moment influenced my life too. I may only guess what my life would be if America differed from its modern condition. Probably, I would not study here at all.
Louisiana Purchase. (n.d.).
Mannino, E. (2013). How the Louisiana Purchase Transformed America. Web.
Raum, E. (2013). Expanding a Nation. Mankato, MN: Capstone. Web.