Louisiana Purchase of 1803: The Key Turning Point

Topics: United States, California, James K. Polk Pages: 3 (1188 words) Published: January 15, 2013
In considering the process of the settlement of the West over the whole period, how far can the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 be seen as the key turning point? The war of 1812 was followed by a period of exploration of the West which had been greatly expanded by the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. The process of expansion was huge and resulted in the original 13 states being 45 states by 1906. As well as the Louisiana Purchase, the Mexican-American War and the Californian Gold Rush of 1848, the Homestead Act of 1862 and the Exodus movement from 1879 were all key turning points which helped the process of Westward Expansion. The key criteria for judging a turning point is if the event created opportunities to go west, if it opened up land to settle in and if it had a psychological impact on the nation. The Louisiana Purchase was a very significant event as it increased the size of the United States by double overnight for only $15 million. This was a key turning point in expansion as it opened up a huge amount of land for more settlers (an extra 828,000 square miles). Alongside this it created opportunities for people to travel west as it gave access to the Mississippi river which was important for travel and commerce. This purchase was also significant in the fact that it created a more secure environment for settlers as it eliminated the French from imperial competition, Jefferson believed the French were restricting US commerce and that they tried to control surrounding territory. Therefore this event affected the process of change as it allowed America to spread its resources and encouraged people to move west, such as the Indians which were encouraged to settle there. The most important reason for this event being a turning point was that it opened up a large amount of land to settle in, a lot of the further events which take place would not have happened if it wasn’t for this territory being the United States’ and so provided many reasons for expansion to continue....
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