The Louisiana Purchase: A Land Agreement

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The Louisiana Purchase occurred in 1803. It was a land agreement between France and the United States in which the United States paid $15 million for about 828, 000 square kilometers of land. The Louisiana territory is located west of the Mississippi River, which is home to portions or all of 15 U.S. states. The transaction took place during Thomas Jefferson's presidency and is regarded as one of his most significant accomplishments (Oppenheimer, Joshua, and Jennifer).
Throughout the second half of the 18th century, Louisiana served as a chessboard piece for European politics. It was under the French administration. However, in the secret Treaty of Fontainebleau in 1762, France surrendered possession to Spain. After the French defeat in war, the British gained control of east of the river while Spain controlled the west. After the United States’ establishment, the Americans controlled the north of New Orleans and east of Mississippi. The main use was for transit to the sea. Through this gradual settlement, many Americans including Jefferson thought that the territory would be acquired "piece by piece". New Orleans had already become important for the US, and through Pinckney’s Treaty, Spain had given Americans the deposition and navigation rights in Mississippi (Klar).

Spain revoked the treaty in 1798 which was a great upset to Americans. Through Napoleon’s secret Third Treaty of San Ildefonso, Spain ceded Louisiana back to France in 1800. The power to control the territory was transferred to France on November 30, 1803. As this was going on, U.S had sent Robert R. Livingston and James Monroe to Paris with the instruction of negotiating or purchasing control of New Orleans and surrounding areas (Oppenheimer et al.) On behalf of Jefferson, a French aristocrat Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours involved Napoleon in back channel diplomacy and originated with the subject/idea of purchasing the much larger Louisiana as a means of defusing potential conflict between Napoleon and United States over North America. On 20th December 1803, US acquired formal cession of the territory for $15 million (Klar).

Works cited

Oppenheimer, Joshua, and Jennifer Lee Carrell. The Entire History of the Louisiana Purchase. Lux, 2015.

Klar, Jeremy, ed. The Louisiana Purchase and Westward Expansion. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2015.

October 07, 2021


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