1803. In France, with the dream of Hispaniola quickly fading, Napoleon had very little use for Louisiana, but did need an influx of cash. War with England was on the horizon and Napoleon knew he had to find a way to fund it. Conveniently, James Monroe and Robert Livingston were in town, negotiating on the possible purchase of New Orleans. It was in the midst of those negotiations, (the U.S. was prepared to pay up to $10 million for New Orleans) when Napoleon suddenly offered all of Louisiana for the tidy sum of $15 million. At first, the two Americans were hesitant at such a large purchase, but both of them knew enough about Jefferson’s wide-eyed expansion ideas to say ‘yes’ to the offer.
And what an offer it was. This newly acquired land called Louisiana (which would someday make up all or part of fifteen states) immediately doubled the size of the United States, while also guaranteeing free navigation of the entire Mississippi River valley! Wow! Monroe and Livingston returned to Washington D.C. elated with the good news, and now, Jefferson’s planned survey of the West suddenly took on a whole new level of importance.
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