Congress isn't always mired in gridlock, squabbling and scandal. Crises such as the looming Civil War, the Great Depression, and the civil rights movement have sparked "the people's" representatives to pass some of the nations boldest legislation. One of the most significant acts in the history of the United States was past when the senate accepted Thomas Jefferson's broad interpretation of the Constitution and approved the Louisiana Purchase.
Aside from more than doubling the size of the United States with a stroke of a pen, the Louisiana Purchase acquired the largest trade route in North America and had a significant impact on the rest of the world, specifically Europe. In this paper I will discuss the events and circumstance preceding the Louisiana Purchase and also cover the effect the purchase had on our country and the rest of the world.
The area between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains was originally settled by the French in the early 18th century but was ceded to Spain by a secret treaty in 1762. A year later the huge province was lost to Great Britain at the end of the Seven Years" War, as part of the Treaty of Paris. This area was returned to Spain when the British signed the second Treaty of Paris on September 3, 1783, which concluded the American Revolution and recognized the former 13 colonies as the free and sovereign United States of America. That same day Great Britain also signed separate treaties with France, an ally of the U.S., and Spain, an ally of France (Crawely 123-127).
To continue the juggling of this massive area of land, French Emperor Napoleon forced the secret treaty of San Ildefonso (1800), which turned the land back over to the original owners, France. This action caused uneasiness in the United States because Napoleonic France was an aggressive power at the time. The United States also worried about western settlers who relied on the Mississippi River for commerce.