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APUSH — Chapter 8: "Securing the Republic" — Period 3: 1754-1800

Key Concepts:

Terms in this set (37)

The vast Louisiana Territory, which stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada and from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains had been ceded by France to Spain during the Seven Years War and secretly reacquired in 1800. Jefferson had been long concerned about American access to the port of New Orleans - Jefferson feared the French might try to interfere with American Commerce. He dispatched envoys to France offering to purchase the City of New Orleans. Needing money for military campaigns in Europe and with his dreams of an American Empire ruined, Napoleon offered to sell the entire Louisiana territory for 15 million. The equivalent of $250 million today. In a stroke, Jefferson had doubled the size of the United States and ended French presence in North America. Jefferson believed that he had ensured the agrarian society and its political stability for centuries to come.

Within a year of the purchase, Jefferson dispatched an expedition led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to explore the new territory. Their objectives were both scientific and commercial - to study the area's plants, animal life and geography, and to discover how the region could be exploited economically. Jefferson hoped the explorers would establish trading relations with western Indians and locate a water route to the Pacific Ocean. 15 year old Shoshone Indian woman Sacajawea served as their guide and interpreter. Under American rule, free blacks in Louisiana suffered a steady decline in status. The local legislature soon adopted one of the most sweeping slave codes in the south, forbidding blacks to "ever consider themselves the equal of whites". Louisiana's blacks enjoyed far more freedom under tyrannical spain than as a part of the "liberty loving" United States.