Explain how foreign events impacted the United States during the Jefferson and Madison administrations.

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mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Foreign events impacted the United States during the presidencies of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. One example of this was the acquisition of the Louisiana Territory. The United States wanted to use the port of New Orleans; unfortunately, that right was rescinded by Spain and the port remained unavailable to the United States even after France got control of New Orleans from Spain. France was also preparing for a major European conflict. When the United States offered to buy New Orleans and West Florida for ten million dollars, the French, who were in need of cash for their upcoming European conflict, offered to sell the entire Louisiana Territory for fifteen million dollars. After some hesitation, President Jefferson agreed, and the size of the United States was doubled with the Louisiana Purchase.

Another example of how world affairs impacted both of these presidents was the conflict that began in Europe in the early 1800s. France and Great Britain were fighting each other, and both countries were concerned that the United States would provide more help to the other side. As a result, both countries interfered with American trade, even though the United States was officially neutral. The British also impressed American sailors. As a result, the United States passed laws that limited trade. The Embargo Act prevented the United States from trading with foreign countries. Later, the Non-Intercourse Act said the United States would not trade with Great Britain or France. If either side agreed to stop interfering with our trade, the United States would resume trading with that side. However, these laws were a disaster for the United States because the United States depended on foreign trade. Eventually, the United States went to war with Great Britain in 1812. One of the reasons for going to war against Great Britain dealt with British interference with American trade, including the impressment of American sailors.

Both President Jefferson and President Madison were impacted by foreign events.