The Louisiana Purchase
On April 30, 1803, the area of the United States approximately doubled. Until that time, United States territory had extended from the Atlantic Ocean to the banks of the Mississippi and from the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River to the thirty-first parallel. The national land now was expanded westward to include practically all of the area between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains and between the Gulf of Mexico and the Canadian border. On that day, for fifteen million dollars, the United States purchased from France 875,000 square miles of territory. After Robert R. Livingston, an American who represented President Jefferson in France, signed his name to the treaty, he rose, shook hands with James Monroe and Marbois, the Frenchman representing Napoleon and remarked, "We have lived long, but this is the noblest work of our lives. " As we glance backward upon this important event in history, we must agree that the signing of the treaty for the purchase of Louisiana was probably the most important event in Thomas Jefferson's administration. Without the acquisition of this territory, the United States would most probably have not developed into the powerful nation which it is today.
What Causes Led to Purchase of the Louisiana Territory
Until 1763, Louisiana had been a possession of France, but in that year it was given to Spain to repay an old debt. Twenty years later in Paris, the treaty ending the American Revolution was signed between the United States and Great Britain. One of the terms of this treaty was that the western border of the United States was to stretch to the Mississippi River. Immediately settlers and pioneers crossed westward over the Allegheny Mountains to clear the territory and establish farms. Since roads were scarce and difficult to travel, the products of these farmers had to be shipped on the waterways leading to the Mississippi River and then down this great stream to New Orleans. At this port city, the produce was transferred to larger ocean-going vessels and transported to markets on the Eastern Seaboard or to Europe. However, Spain's ownership of both shores of the river for at least two hundred miles north of New Orleans permitted this foreign nation to control the trade moving on the Mississippi. As a monarchy (君主政体) ，the Spanish government distrusted the rising spirit of democracy in the United States, especially the much freer expression of democracy that existed among the western farmers. This distrust of democracy resulted in the desire of the Spanish to deny the use of the great river to any Americans. The reaction was instantaneous (瞬间的 ) and furious, western farmers raised their voices to protest and the United states sent John Jay to Madrid to discuss this matter. In 1795 this conflict was settled. Spain consented to allow citizens of the United States the right to use the lower Mississippi River and also the "right of deposit" at New Orleans, the right of deposit permitted American farmers, without a duty charge, to remove their products from smaller boats at New Orleans after having navigated down the Mississippi, and then to transfer the agricultural commodities to larger ocean-going vessels.
For the succeeding five years this agreement was observed and little conflict existed. On October 1, 1800, however, Spain signed a treaty giving the ownership of the Louisiana territory back to France. The news of this treaty did not reach Jefferson until May of the following year. As soon as he became aware of the change in ownership of the territory, Jefferson realized that this was part of a plan by which Napoleon hoped to establish France as a great power in the New World. Although Napoleon still permitted Spain to remain in control of the port of New Orleans, the future threat to the navigation rights of the western farmers still remained. At any moment, Napoleon might send troops to the "Gateway" and forbid Americans to use it for navigation. This would affect almost forty per cent of the total export trade of the United States. By April 1802 Jefferson's concerns in this matter became even more intense. Napoleon had shipped armed forces to Santo Domingo to suppress the uprising. Once this had been accomplished, the troops were under orders to take possession of Louisiana with its key port city of New Orleans. On the eighteenth of that month the President wrote his now-famous letter to the American Minister to France, Robert R. Livingston.
There is one place on the globe, one single spot, the possessor of which is our natural and habitual enemy. It is New Orleans through which the produce of three eighths of our territory must pass to market. . . it seals the union of two nations who in conjunction can maintain exclusive possession of the ocean. From that moment we must marry ourselves to the British fleet and nation.
Seven months later Jefferson learned that the Spanish officials at New Orleans had suspended(暂不实行) the right of deposit. Immediately western