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Was the Louisiana Purchase the greatest accomplishment or the greatest liability of the United States at the time?

By agaraudy Oct 26, 2014 563 Words

New Orleans, the most powerful port on the Mississippi River, was first inhabited by Indians, explored and settled by the French, ruled by the Spanish for over forty years, regained by the French, and later sold, in the Louisiana Purchase, to the United States. Whoever controlled this influential port also controlled the Mississippi River, and the United States wanted and needed it. After years of negotiations, talks of war, and treaties, the Americans bought the entire Louisiana Purchase, a territory that stretched from the tip of modern day Louisiana all the way into a small section of Canada. This was the greatest accomplishment of the United States at the time: we were able to peacefully negotiate, double the size of the country, and take part in what is one of the best deals in history. On October 27, 1795, Pickney's Treaty, our first step in peaceful negotiations, was signed between the U.S. and the Spanish, allowing the Americans to transport items through the port and freely navigate their ships along the Mississippi River. The Spanish secretly gave Louisiana back to the French in 1798, and in 1802, the French denied the Americans of their right of deposit guaranteed by Pickney's Treaty. Frontier farmers desperately needed the river and its port for the transporting and shipping of their products, and some pioneers even discussed marching into New Orleans with rifles in hand. However, President Thomas Jefferson knew that starting a war with Napoleon Bonaparte, the leader of the French at the time, was not a good idea, and our military was not strong enough to handle it without making an ally with our previous rivals, the British. Jefferson sent James Monroe to meet up with Robert R. Livingston in Paris so the two could buy New Orleans for a minimum of ten million dollars. Around this time, Napoleon lost his vital control over the island of Santo Domingo, thus losing his hope of a new empire in the New World. He then decided to sell all of Louisiana and its vast wilderness to the Americans, fearing he might be forced to give it to the British. Robert Livingston, the American minister who was still awaiting the arrival of James Monroe, entered negotiations with the French foreign minister. Louisiana was ceded to the United States, in 1803, for a startling price of fifteen million dollars. Jefferson was willing to pay ten million simply to secure New Orleans, but for an additional five million, he received a lot more than he bargained for. Doubling the size of the United States, the Louisiana Purchase contributed greatly to the young country. Thomas Jefferson sent Meriwether Lewis, his personal secretary, and William Clark, a young army officer, to explore the vast new area in the spring of 1804. With the help of Sacajawea, a young Shoshoni Indian, Lewis, Clark, and their men brought back maps of the unknown area, knowledge of the Native Americans, and many scientific observations. This land allowed the Americans to expand westward and continue flourishing. In conclusion, the Louisiana Purchase was indeed the greatest accomplishment of the young United States. Not only did we get rid of a powerful foreign rule, but we were able to gain an extremely important port in peaceful ways rather than war or bloodshed, more than double our magnitude, and take part in one of the greatest negotiations in history.

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