What were the consequences of the Louisiana Purchase?

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davmor1973 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The importance of the Louisiana Purchase can also be seen in the notion of Manifest Destiny. This was the idea that the United States would naturally expand, extending from coast to coast, and bringing the benefits of American liberty and opportunity to new territories. And for some, the Purchase made that (somewhat vague) idea a reality.

The consequences for the United States as a whole were deep and long-lasting. The country became much more prosperous and the dream of many to live on their own plot of land became real for the first time. In the process, society became more democratic: giving life to Jefferson's original vision of a republic deriving its strength and stability from the widespread ownership of rural land.

But there was another side to the story. The Louisiana Purchase facilitated the growing destruction of Native American culture. Native Americans were forced from their land, and their traditional hunting grounds were appropriated by the huge influx of white settlers. Jefferson's idyll envisaged Native Americans as being equal, but only if they agreed to reject their "savage" culture and embrace the benefits of white American civilization.

The Louisiana Purchase also facilitated the spread of slavery. The question of the "peculiar institution" had effectively been ignored by the political classes as part of a tacit understanding going back many years. The Purchase meant that the issue could no longer be kicked into the grass and a passionate debate was reignited. But so long as the matter of slavery remained fundamentally unresolved the proponents of slavery were allowed to gain a political and economic advantage over their abolitionist opponents. More ominously, it changed the whole strategic dynamic of the United States, making it more likely that any future attempt to abolish slavery could only be done by force.


yamaguchityler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The consequences of the Louisiana Purchase mainly focused on the building tension between the South and North of the United States. At the time, slavery was a very concerning issue. The North wanted to abolish slavery forever simply because of how awful it is to own another human being and force them to work without pay. The South however, was quite the opposite. They found slavery work to not only be alright and a part of the Southern lifestyle, but they found it to be what helped fuel some of their industries. 

After the Louisiana Purchase, tension between the North and South only increased. Now that the United States was a much larger nation, there had to be agreement of whether or not slavery would be allowed in this new land. With a country already split on the subject of slavery, how else do you think introducing a brand new piece of land would go? There was an increased conflict caused by this land, being magnified by the fight over slavery. 

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There were many consequences of the Louisiana Purchase.

Economically, the purchase had a major short-term impact.  It allowed American goods to once more go down the Mississippi and out to the sea via New Orleans.  In the long term, it gave the US lands that were to have tremendous agricultural and mineral importance for our economy.

Politically, the major short-term impact of the purchase was to increase nationalism.  People were proud of the fact that the US was now a much bigger nation.  In the long term, however, the purchase led to disputes over slavery.  It led to disputes about whether slavery would be allowed in the territory that the US had acquired.

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