Conestoga wagons were sturdy vehicles topped with canvas in which settlers traveled West.
The land belonged to Spain in the early 1800s, but then was transferred to France. The land was a vast area and the control of this land was key to the ongoing American trade in the West.
Many pioneers in the West settled along the rivers that fed into the Mississippi River. They used the river to transport goods.
Spain refused to allow American goods to move into or past New Orleans.
The change in the Spanish policy affected American farmers in the West because they needed access to the Mississippi to transport their crops to markets. Their goods were shipped down the Mississippi River to New Orleans where workers loaded them onto ocean-going ships bound for the East Coast. For western farmers this trade arrangement was vital to their economic survival.
Jefferson knew that access to the Mississippi River and New Orleans was essential to American settlers and the economy. He worried that France would not allow this needed access.
Napoleon saw his dreams of an empire in North America collapse. This might have changed his attitude toward controlling land in North American. He also needed money to go to war with Britain.
Jefferson wanted arrangement for New Orleans that would protect shipping. French officials offered to sell the whole of LA Territory. The offer provided inexpensive land and would give the US control of the Mississippi River. Jefferson worried about whether he had the authority to make the purchase, but he decided his treaty-making powers allowed him to buy the land. The Senate approved the purchase in October of 1803.
Pike explored the Upper Mississippi River valley and what is now Colorado. He collected information about the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains.
Federalists in the northeast opposed the purchase. They feared that New England would lose power as the West was settled. A few Federalists wanted to secede; they asked Burr for help. Hamilton accused Burr of plotting treason. The two dueled and Burr killed Hamilton.
The LA Purchase was significant because it doubled the size of the US and gave it control of the Mississippi River.
Sacagawea was important to the Corps of Discovery (Lewis and Clark) because she negotiated with Native America tribes to buy horses, found edible plants, made clothing and knew the area. Her presence along calmed the fears of tribes they met because a war tribe would not have a woman and baby with them.
The army lieutenant sent by Jefferson to explore parts of the wilderness in addition to Lewis and Clark was Zebulon Pike. He explored the Upper Mississippi River valley and into present-day Colorado. Pike also mapped part of the Rio Grande and traveled across northern Mexico and what is now southern Texas.