The Louisiana Purchase” Focus Question: What was the importance of the purchase and exploration of the Louisiana Territory?

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The Louisiana Purchase”

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Focus Question: What was the importance of the purchase and exploration of the Louisiana Territory?
*Jefferson reduced the size of the federal gov’t and was interested in the American West.
The Nation Looks West

*By 1800 – more than 1 million settlers lived between Appalachian Mts. and Mississippi River.

*Most western settlers were farmers and depended on Mississippi River to transport crops to New Orleans for shipment.

*Spain controlled Mississippi River and New Orleans.

*1795 – Pinckney Treaty guaranteed the Americans’ right to ship goods down Mississippi River to New Orleans.

*1801 – Jefferson discovered that Spain secretly gave New Orleans and Louisiana Territory to France.

*French leader Napoleon Bonaparte was trying to conquer Europe and Jefferson feared he would try to make France the most powerful country in America. If Napoleon controlled Louisiana, westward expansion of the US would be blocked.
Buying Louisiana

*Before France gained control of Louisiana, Spanish governor of Louisiana withdrew right of Americans to ship their goods to New Orleans. Westerners demanded Jefferson go to war to win back their rights.

A Surprise Offer

*Jefferson tried to buy New Orleans from the French. He sent James Monroe to France to make a deal. Robert Livingston, the American minister in Paris. They were to buy New Orleans and West Florida.

*In Paris, Monroe and Livingston found out that a revolution led by Toussaint L’Ouverture had driven the French from their Caribbean colony of Haiti. As a result, the French could not defend Louisiana if a war occurred.

*Since war was also possible between France and Britain, Napoleon needed money to prepare for war. France offered to sell New Orleans and the entire Louisiana Territory to the United for $15 million (4 cents per acre).

*Louisiana Purchase included land from Gulf of Mexico to Canada and from Mississippi River to Rocky Mountains.

*The Louisiana Purchase almost doubled the size of the country. It was unexplored but had millions of acres of fertile farmland and other natural resources. It also gave the US control of the Mississippi River.

Jefferson’s Dilemma

*Although Jefferson was excited about the deal, he also had a dilemma because he was a strict interpreter of the Constitution. The Constitution did not give the President the power to buy land from a foreign country.

*Jefferson eventually decided that he DID have the authority to buy Louisiana because the Constitution allowed the President to make treaties. The Senate approved the treaty and Congress quickly voted to pay for the land.
Lewis and Clark Explore the West

*Jan. 1803 – even before Louisiana Purchase, Jefferson convinced Congress to spend $2,500 on a western expedition (long and carefully organized journey).

*Jefferson chose army captain Meriwether Lewis to lead the expedition and Lewis chose William Clark as his co-leader.

*Lewis and Clark were told to report back on the geography, plants, animals, and other natural features of the region.

*Jefferson wanted L & C to make contact with the Native Americans who lived in the Louisiana Territory and also to find out if there is a waterway between the Mississippi River and the Pacific Ocean.

Into the Unknown

*Spring 1804 – L & C left St. Louis and headed up along the Missouri River. Took 3 boats with tons of supplies and about 40 men (mostly Americans, several French Canadians, and Clark’s enslaved African American York).

*York impressed Native Americans with his hunting skills and was the first black man that many Native Americans had seen. He was celebrity.

*By early August – they met Native Americans for the first time.

*October 1804 – expedition reached Mandan territory (North Dakota) and camped there for winter. They were joined by French Canadian trader, his 17-year-old wife Native American Sacagawea, and their son. She was a Shoshone who would travel with them and serve as translator.

Crossing the Rockies

*April 1805 – expedition set out again. By summer – they began to climb the Rocky Mts.

*By August – they reached Continental Divide (place on a continent that separates river systems flowing in opposite directions).

*At top of Rockies, Lewis hoped to see river taking them to the Pacific Ocean. All he saw were mountains.

*Next day, Lewis met a group of Shoshone warriors. Sacagawea discovered her brother was the chief. The Shoshones agreed to sell the expedition horses that were needed to cross the mountains.

At the Pacific

*On west side of Rockies, L & C reached Columbia River. They stopped to build canoes for the downriver voyage. Finally, they reached the Pacific Ocean.

*Spent the winter of 1805-1806 near where Columbia River met Pacific Ocean.

*Began return trip in March 1806. Took the party half a year to return to St. Louis.

*Brought back information of a rich and beautiful part of the continent and the knowledge that an all-water route across the continent does not exist.
Pike’s Expedition

*1805-1807 – Zebulon Pike explored the southern part of the Louisiana Territory.

*He led an expedition west into the Rocky Mts. Tried to climb a mountain that rose out of Colorado plains. Did not reach the top but the mountain became known as Pike’s Peak.

*Pike’s return route took him into Spanish New Mexico near the Rio Grande River.

*Early in 1807 – Spanish troops arrested the members of the expedition as spies. Spanish feared Pike was gathering information so that the Americans could take over the region. After several months of captivity, the men were released and escorted back to the US land.

*As Spanish feared, Pike’s reports about the Spanish borderlands created great American interest in the region.

Review Questions
1. What important right did the US gain with the Pinckney Treaty of 1795?
The right to ship goods down the Mississippi River to New Orleans

2. Why did President Jefferson hesitate to approve the purchase of the Louisiana Territory?
As strict interpreter of the Constitution, Jefferson knew that the Constitution did not specifically grant a President the right to buy land from foreign powers.
3. What goals did President Jefferson set for Lewis and Clark’s expedition?
Lewis and Clark were to report on the resources of the West, to make contact with the Native Americans, establish claim to the land west of the Rockies, and find an all-water route across the continent if it existed.

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