Louisiana Purchase (Great Events from History: North American Series)
Article abstract: The United States doubles its size and secures new western borders.
Summary of Event
The first Europeans to explore Louisiana were the Spanish in the sixteenth century, but they failed to occupy the area effectively. In 1682, the French explorer René Robert Cavelier, sieur de La Salle, claimed the region for France and named it in honor of King Louis XIV. Louisiana remained French territory until near the end of the Seven Years’ War (French and Indian War) in 1763, when France ceded it to Spain in return for its help in the war against Great Britain and its allies and to compensate Spain for the loss of the Floridas. In the late 1790’s, France began to rebuild its empire in the Western Hemisphere, and by the secret Treaty of San Ildefonso of October 1, 1800, Spain ceded Louisiana back to France.
Reports of the transfer of Louisiana, and perhaps even the Floridas, from Spain to France began to reach the United States in the spring of 1801. The Jefferson Administration viewed this transfer with some alarm, because a powerful and aggressive Napoleonic France in control of the mouth of the Mississippi River would constitute a much graver threat to U.S. rights on that vital artery of commerce and communication than did weak and declining Spain’s presence there.
Secretary of State James Madison instructed Robert R. Livingston, the U.S. minister to Paris, to investigate the...
(The entire section is 1526 words.)
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Louisiana Purchase (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
The Louisiana Purchase of 1803 doubled the size of the United States, gave the country complete control of the port of New Orleans, and provided territory for westward expansion. The 828,000 square miles purchased from France formed completely or in part thirteen states: Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wyoming. President THOMAS JEFFERSON was unsure if the Constitution authorized the acquisition of land, but he found a way to justify the purchase.
France originally claimed the Louisiana Territory in the seventeenth century. In 1763 it ceded to Spain the province of Louisiana, which was about where the state of Louisiana is today. By the 1790s U.S. farmers who lived west of the Appalachian Mountains were shipping their surplus produce by boat down rivers that flowed into the Gulf of Mexico. In 1795 the United States negotiated a treaty with Spain that permitted U.S. merchants the right of deposit at New Orleans. This right allowed the merchants to store their goods in New Orleans without paying duty before they were exported.
In 1800 France, under the leadership of Napoléon, negotiated a secret treaty with Spain that ceded the province of Louisiana back to France. President Jefferson became concerned that France had control of the strategic port of New Orleans, and sought to...
(The entire section is 681 words.)