Chapter 8 Republican Ascendancy: The Jeffersonian Vision

B. The Louisiana Purchase

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B. The Louisiana Purchase

Americans had assumed that they would someday buy or take New Orleans

from Spain, which did not have the military strength to resist the United States. In 1801, however, France, which could block America's westward expansion or close New Orleans, bought Louisiana from Spain. Jefferson sent a mission to France to buy New Orleans. Napoleon, for reasons of his own, offered to sell all of Louisiana, an area larger than the United States

at that time, for only $15 million.

C. The Lewis and Clark Expedition

Even before purchasing Louisiana, Jefferson sent an exploring party into the area (the Lewis and Clark Expedition). Their report on its economic prospects

reaffirmed Jefferson's desire that it belong to the United States. When he

received the French offer, he worried that Congress might not have the

constitutional right to make the purchase, but Jefferson urged Congress to

complete the deal anyway, fearing that Napoleon might change his mind. He

departed even further from Republican principles when he established a

government for the new territory. Because most of the inhabitants were French

and Spanish, Jefferson did not entrust them with self-rule, and the area was

governed from Washington. Nonetheless, the American people thoroughly

approved of Jefferson's actions and reelected him in 1804.

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