The fledgling United States is officially “neutral” in the war between France and Britain. The United States even begins to solve its own foreign problems by sending its navy and marines (1801-1805) to the Mediterranean to stop Tripoli pirates and ransomers from collecting tribute from American Yankee traders operating in the area. “Millions for Defense – not a penny for Tribute” was America’s rallying cry, and the incident came to be memorialized in the second line of the Marine Corps’ hymn: “… to the shores of Tripoli.”
Napoleon, needing money to press war with Great Britain and pursue control of the European continent, bargain-sells the Louisiana Territory to the United States for $15 million, or roughly two-and-a-half cents per acre.
This area is about one-third of what are now the 48 contiguous states.
The Louisiana Purchase gives rise to some Americans’ – mostly Westerners’ – dreams of “Manifest Destiny.” That is, the United States should extend to the utmost borders of North America: From the top of Canada to the bottom of Mexico and from the Atlantic to the Pacific (see map on page 81).