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The Louisiana Purchase: A Turning Point In American History Essay

The total value of the purchase was $15 million, at an astounding rate of under three cents per acre. The people who lived in Louisiana were all given U. S. citizenship and the United States agreed to honor all agreements between the Spanish and the Native Americans that had been made while Spain had controlled the land. The treaty was unclear about an important detail, however. The borders of the territory were not defined; the treaty simply stated that the extent of the territory would not change (Corrick 60-62; History. com Staff).

The terms of the Louisiana Purchase turned out to be much better for the United States than anyone had dared imagine and it would eventually come to be recognized as a turning point in American history. The Louisiana Purchase guaranteed America’s control over the Mississippi River, increased the country’s land area by 140%, and added 200,000 people to the country’s population (“Louisiana Purchase”). It also put the United States into contact with all the western Native American tribes and allowed for new exploration and discovery of many animals, plants, and lands.

Jefferson knew Americans would one day live beyond the Mississippi, so he wanted to send an expedition west to learn bout the region’s geography, waterways, how good it would be for human settlement and agriculture, its Native American tribes, and possible locations for forts and trading posts. He also wanted to establish more clearly that the U. S. now claimed the region as its own, to get a share of the region’s fur trade, and to find out whether or not a water route to the Pacific from the Mississippi existed. The latter was the mission’s most important agenda item (Cavan).

On the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Jefferson explained, “[The] aim would be to make friends and allies of the far Western Indians while at the same time diverting aluable pelts from the rugged northern routes used by another nation [Britain].. and [find a way of bringing] the harvest down the Missouri to the Mississippi and thence eastward by a variety of routes” (qtd. in “Opens”). There were many reasons for exploration of Louisiana, and Jefferson was eager to send an exploratory expedition into the territory as soon as he could.

On what kind of person he wanted to lead a westward mission, Jefferson stated that he wanted someone, skilled in botany, natural history, mineralogy, astronomy, with at the same time the necessary firmness of body and mind, habits f living in the woods and familiarity with the Indian character” (qtd. in Corrick). Jefferson knew that to find all this in one person was unrealistic, but he knew that Meriwether Lewis was trainable and a great outdoorsman, so he chose him to lead the planned mission and sent him to America’s top scientists for training in their respective fields.

In 1803, Lewis began to prepare for the trip by buying weapons in Harper’s Ferry, Virginia. He also designed and had built a portable iron-frame boat for the expedition. He went to various cities and was instructed in mathematics; science; health care and medical · perfectly upplies; botany; zoological identification, classification, and preservation; anatomy; fossils; and classifying flora and fauna. He bought supplies for the trip, some of which included navigational tools, tents, cooking gear, tin horns, medicines, surgical tools, etc.

He didn’t have to buy food for the entire duration of the expedition since the Corps of Discovery (which the expedition was to be called) intended to live off the land, but he did end up buying 193 pounds of canned soup for the men. Another important category of things that he purchased was gifts for any Native Americans they encountered, continuing the radition of giving gifts to Indian leaders at meetings.

This also came out of Jefferson’s great concern that the Corps of Discovery learn as much as possible about the western Native Americans, ensure them of the United States’ goodwill and desire for trade with them, and to encourage Native American leaders to come to Washington, D. C. to meet with U. S. leaders. After getting all the necessary supplies, Lewis had them shipped to where the expedition was going to start (Cavan 13-24). Soon after, he asked his friend William Clark to co-command the expedition with him.

The two ended up getting along so well uring the expedition that Clark even named his son Meriwether Lewis Clark after his partner (Cavan 26-27). After all this was done, the expedition was ready to begin. The members of the expedition were the following: Lewis; Lewis’s dog, Seaman; Clark; Clark’s slave, York; about 48, mostly military men (no exact number is known) but also 3 non-military interpreters and trappers. There was a group of 31 people known as the Permanent Party that stayed with the expedition all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

The rest did not stay for the whole trip. Eventually, Sacagawea, a Shoshone Indian, and her usband Toussaint Charbonneau also joined the expedition partway through after being recruited at a Mandan Indian village. The original 48 started down the Ohio river in their boat on, October 26, 1803. They stayed the winter in the Illinois Territory and they started up the Missouri River in spring 1804 into uncharted territory, beginning their long journey to the Pacific (Cavan 27-28; “Opens”).

This expedition became very important to America and it made many important discoveries in and about the new territory. During the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the crew learned about Western Native American tribes and established relations with them, discovered new varieties of animals and plants, and learned about the geography of the region. On the expedition’s return, Jefferson asked Lewis to compile their new data into a map. When Lewis died in 1809 with very little of the map finished, the responsibility to finish it fell on Clark’s shoulders.

Clark completed the map, which was used by a great many trappers, traders, and explorers, who, upon their return, gave Clark new information to add to the map, keeping it up to date. In 1814 a journal containing the map was published under the itle History of the Expedition Under the Command of Captains Lewis and Clark. Several other expeditions led by different explorers were later sent West, making significant contributions to Clark’s map and knowledge of the West.

This up to date map made it easier for American settlers to settle in the new western land to trade with the Native Americans, farm, or other ventures (“Opens”). The discoveries of Lewis and Clark gave Americans the confidence and know-how to start moving into the western territories. The Louisiana Purchase was a pivotal event in American history, and had a great impact on the country that can still be elt today.

It added much land to the United States, giving it much of the territory that the country currently occupies and gave much knowledge about that new land to Americans back east. The discoveries of the Lewis and Clark expedition and their journal writings about the West made knowledge about the Louisiana Territory easily accessible to American settlers looking to live in the abundant land there and jump started the country’s western expansion. The Louisiana Purchase and its exploration were momentous to American history and started to shape the country into what it is today.

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