Most puzzling of all was Florida, where all four nations felt they maintained a legitimate claim, not to mention the claims of the existing natives. By , after a confusing Revolutionary period of their own, France once again emerged as a world power under the formidable leadership of Napoleon, who had taken direction of the country in a coup mere months before See the Napoleon SparkNote.
Per the terms of their agreement, Napoleon promised never to abandon the territory to a foreign interest, and to recognize Spanish claims to Florida. To the United States, a Louisiana passively administered by Spain was an ideal situation, since this weaker sister of Europe was struggling enough to maintain existing claims, much less expand.
France under Napoleon, however, was another story.
Already looking to expand in Europe, it was clear to most American observers that Napoleon planned to take an active and aggressive role in the administration of Louisiana. Such a prospect did not bode well for United States interests, especially with regard to the emerging frontier. Although Napoleon was poised to occupy New Orleans, in order to establish his foothold he first had to attend to a nagging problem in the Caribbean.
How the Louisiana Purchase Changed the World
A prominent outpost rich in natural resources and imported slave labor, the island of Hispanola was a crux of the European mercantile system. While the Spaniards maintained a tenuous hold over the eastern two-thirds of the island, the French had an even shakier hold on the western coast, known as Santo Domingo. A slave insurrection under the leadership of Toussaint LOuverture proved remarkably difficult to quell, even in the face of sizeable French reinforcements.
From Napoleons perspective, control of Santo Domingo was crucial to his designs in the Western Hemisphere writ large.
President Thomas Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase essays
At first glance, it would appear that the United States would best be served by supporting the insurrection, fought in the name of liberty from a colonial oppressor. However, the wild card of slavery must be considered, along with Jeffersons persistent Francophilia. France had given up all of its territory in North America by the end of the French and Indian War But Napoleon had plans to re-establish the French empire in North America. In , America learned that Spain had agreed to return Louisiana to France.
Jefferson had always looked upon France as a friend in the world, but he knew this was a potential crisis. The new nation depended on New Orleans for its economic survival.
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In early , Jefferson appointed James Monroe as a special envoy to France. Monroe and Minister to France Robert Livingston would try to buy land east of the Mississippi or in New Orleans itself, or, if all else failed, to secure U.
go Monroe and Livingston learned that Napoleon had given up his desire to recreate an empire in North America. France offered the U. The two American ministers seized the opportunity, going beyond their mandate.
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They negotiated a purchase treaty and returned to the U. The Louisiana Purchase Treaty would not be final until it was ratified by the Senate, funded by the House of Representatives, and signed by the President.