The Louisiana Purchase

ryanAmerican History(ML), Mini Lessons

Common Sense American History eBook:

In 1803, Jefferson achieved the greatest success of his administration and one that would transform America: the Louisiana Purchase. In 1800, French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte acquired from Spain, New Orleans and a vast territory extending north to what is now North Dakota and west to parts of what is now New Mexico. New Orleans was a major port for western farmers transporting their goods down the Mississippi River. In acquiring the Louisiana Territory from Spain, Napoleon planned to re-establish the French empire in North America. A slave revolt in Haiti led by Toussaint L’Ouverture kept French troops bogged down in an unsuccessful war to crush the revolt. Strapped for funds to support his overextended empire, Napoleon decided to sell the entire Louisiana territory to the United States.

  1. How different would North America be if the American territory contained several countries (a Russian-speaking country in the northwest, a Spanish speaking one in the southwest, and a French speaking one in the middle)?
  2. Do you think we would have more or less freedom and prosperity under such a division?
  3. Imagine yourself as a member of Lewis and Clark’s three-year trip into unexplored territory. Is such a journey appealing to you? The “American” spirit included a strong urge to discover and explore new territories. Since the “closing of the frontier”, this option is less available. Do you feel share the urge to travel and take a road trip? How would America be different, if our culture discouraged such adventurism?

This reading is an excerpt from Certell’s Common Sense American History eBook.  Certell offers curriculum materials and eBooks free of charge for students and teachers.  Click here to download the Common Sense American History materials.

Image Citation:

24, Sept. 2018 Road Trip meme [Digital image].  Retrieved from <>.