Why did the French offer to sell Louisiana to the United States?

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President Thomas Jefferson sent emissaries to France to negotiate the purchase of the city of New Orleans, or at the very least, guaranteed access to the ports there. This would give the United States free navigation of the Mississippi River, which was necessary for the nation's continued westward expansion--farmers had...

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President Thomas Jefferson sent emissaries to France to negotiate the purchase of the city of New Orleans, or at the very least, guaranteed access to the ports there. This would give the United States free navigation of the Mississippi River, which was necessary for the nation's continued westward expansion--farmers had to be able to transport their crops downriver. France had only recently reacquired the region, once part of its vast North American empire, from Spain, and Napoleon hoped to develop the region into a source of wealth. But when Jefferson's emissaries arrived in France, they received the stuning offer of the entire Louisiana Territory--virtually all of the modern United States between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains--for the sum of fifteen million dollars. France was eager to sell for a few reasons. First, the Haitian Revolution had resulted in the fall of the French sugar island of Saint-Domingue. With this island no longer in French hands, New Orleans, and the French presence in the region in general, no longer seemed as desirable. Also, France was entering into war with Great Britain and other European powers, and was in need of the cash from the land deal. So Napoleon, in short, was more focused on affairs in Europe than on rebuilding a French empire in North America and the Caribbean.

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