Louisiana Purchase

   The 1803 purchase by the United States from France of the land west of the Mississippi River, consisting primarily of the Mississippi and Missouri River basins. The purchase makes up most of what is known as the Great Plains today. Until the end of the French and Indian War in 1763, the entire Mississippi River basin, along with the Great Lakes region, was controlled by France. With the defeat of France in that war, its North American empire was dismembered, with Great Britain taking the land east of the Mississippi, except for the port of New Orleans, and Spain receiving New Orleans and the land to the west. The United States gained control of the British share in 1783 with their victory in the American Revolution, and Napoleon Bonaparte forced Spain to return its share to France in 1800.
   President Thomas Jefferson approached Napoleon in 1803 in an effort to purchase New Orleans. Napoleon countered with an offer to sell the entire region. Napoleon had reclaimed Louisiana as part of a plan to restart France’s colonial empire, but the slave revolt in the Caribbean French colony of Haiti and the British control of the seas convinced Napoleon that the concept was more trouble than it was worth. Despite misgivings at the constitutionality of the purchase, Jefferson jumped at the offer. For $15 million the United States had bought a vast land that was largely unexplored by Europeans.
   For his money, Jefferson got the multicultural seaport of New Orleans, an outlet for American produce being floated down the Mississippi, and a rogues’ gallery of sophisticated Creole elites, shady traders, and outright pirates. He also got St. Louis, a nominally French town near the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers that by 1803 was largely American. Finally, he got a vast land with perhaps hundreds of Native American tribes, many of whom had never even seen a white person. None of these people, European or Native American, had been consulted concerning the transfer. The borders of the purchase were only vaguely defined but were eventually resolved. The Adams-Onís Treaty between Spain and the United States in 1819 established the southern border as roughly that of current-day Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma, extending into the Rocky Mountains. The Anglo-American Convention of 1819 established the border between British North America and the United States at the 49th parallel.
   Relations with the actual inhabitants of the Great Plains were not as easily resolved. American immigration into the region continually displaced the Native Americans, resulting in three generations of conflict and Native American dislocation. The major effect of the Louisiana Purchase was to ensure that the United States was transformed from a series of states along the Atlantic Seaboard to a continental power with room for extensive population growth, at the expense of the Native Americans whose land was transferred by the purchase.
   See also <>; <>; <>.
    Ambrose, Stephen. Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis Thomas Jefferson and the Opening of the American West. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996;
    Fleming, Thomas. The Louisiana Purchase. Hoboken: J. Wiley, 2003;
    Tucker, Robert W., and David C. Hendrickson. Empire of Liberty: The Statecraft of Thomas Jefferson. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Louisiana Purchase — Louisiana Pur|chase the Louisiana Purchase the area of land which the US bought from France in 1803. It covered the land between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains and between Canada and the Gulf of Mexico. The Louisiana Purchase more… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Louisiana Purchase — land bought by the U.S. from France in 1803 for $15,000,000: it extended from the Mississippi to the Rocky Mountains & from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada …   English World dictionary

  • Louisiana Purchase — For other uses, see Louisiana Purchase (disambiguation). Louisiana Purchase Vente de la Louisiane expansion of the United States …   Wikipedia

  • Louisiana Purchase — Der Louisiana Purchase (engl.: Louisianakauf) war der Kauf von 2.144.476 km² Land, das die USA 1803 von Frankreich erwarben. Der Kaufpreis betrug 15 Mio US $ oder 80 Millionen französische Francs (7 US $/km²), was einem heutigen (März 2006)… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Louisiana Purchase — Vente de la Louisiane Le territoire vendu dépasse les 2 millions de km² La vente de la Louisiane (en anglais Louisiana Purchase « l achat de la Louisiane ») est la cession par la France de plus de 2 144 476 km²… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Louisiana Purchase — U.S. Hist. 1. a treaty signed with France in 1803 by which the U.S. purchased for $15,000,000 the land extending from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains and from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. 2. the land included in this purchase. * * * …   Universalium

  • Louisiana Purchase — geographical name region W central United States between Mississippi River & the Rockies purchased 1803 from France area 885,000 square miles (2,301,000 square kilometers) …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Louisiana Purchase — Loui′sian′a Pur′chase n. amh. the territory that the U.S. purchased from France in 1803 for $15,000,000, extending from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains and from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada …   From formal English to slang

  • Louisiana Purchase — /luiziænə ˈpɜtʃəs/ (say looheezeeanuh perchuhs) noun The, a huge territory which the United States purchased from France in 1803, extending from the Mississippi to the Rocky Mountains and from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada …   Australian English dictionary

  • Louisiana Purchase — noun territory in the western United States purchased from France in 1803 for $15 million; extends from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains and from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada • Instance Hypernyms: ↑district, ↑territory, ↑territorial… …   Useful english dictionary

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