The Louisiana Purchase and National Health Care Reform: Constitutional Challenges and Lessons

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The Louisiana Purchase and national health care legislation were two historic events in the history of the United States. Both were huge steps forward for the county in different ways and both raised questions and controversy about the authority of the President of the United States or Congress. For the Louisiana Purchase, those opposed to the purchase and the treaty with France to make it possible for the United States to buy the land, claimed that the Constitution did give the President the authority to admit a new state to the Union, without the agreement of each state and the approval of Congress. The Louisiana Purchase was unconstitutional, but was never challenged because it benefited the country. On the national health care law, many states have started lawsuits claiming that Congress did not have the authority to require citizens to buy insurance, an important part of the law that was passed to make sure that all people have access to health care. National health care reform may also prove to be an historic advance, but the United States Supreme Court will soon decide if the law is constitutional or whether Congress exceeded its authority in passing the law.

Throughout the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, economic imperialism became a popular method many European countries used, in which power was gained through wealth. A common tactic countries would use to gain wealth was through conquering territories and reaping the benefits of the resources that came with them. France completely adopted the idea of economic imperialism, and under the leadership of its Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte, France controlled territories all around the world by the beginning of the nineteenth century. However, Napoleon found that maintaining control and power in the many territories that France had obtained, was far more difficult than gaining the land itself, especially when it came to the land France controlled in North America. French resources were spread thin already, and the Louisiana Territory being an Ocean away did not help either. When Napoleon heard that the United States population was growing rapidly, he knew it was only a matter of time before the Americans would start spilling over into the French territory, and there was little that he could do to stop them. A successful uprising in Haiti, formerly controlled by France, was the final event that convinced Napoleon to re-evaluate his priorities and tactics he would use to maintain the Empire that he had worked so hard to build.

Napoleon decided to focus his resources on dominating Europe, and to cut his losses for the territories in North America. By selling the Louisiana territory not only would Napoleon have one less region to worry about and be able to strengthen his forces elsewhere, he would also be quickly acquiring money, which was exactly what he needed to finance his endeavors in Europe. The land that Napoleon would sell to the United States, in what is known as the Louisiana Purchase, was 828,000 square miles. It later would become all or part of 15 of the United States and two Canadian provinces. The land covered all or part of the following states: Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota west of the Mississippi, most of North and South Dakota, northeastern New Mexico, northern Texas, part of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and Louisiana. Altogether, the Louisiana Purchase covered land that is now about 23% of the United States. The United States paid France $11,250,000 for the land, in addition to canceling $3,750,000 in war debts that the French owed the United States. The total cost of the land came out to be $15 million.

This was an incredible deal for the United States; however, it did come with some complications. Thomas Jefferson knew that if he did not act quickly, Napoleon would take the deal off the table and France would become a military threat to the United States. The treaty was signed on...
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