Thomas Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase


The purchase of Louisiana from France is one of the major sizeable events that make Thomas Jefferson to stand out in the history of the United States. During his reign, the constitution certainly was clear about federal governance, outlining stringently the possibility of expanding the territory without providing clear-cut provisions that new states could be acquired from foreign countries. Jefferson was willing to go above and beyond to ensure that every national government delegated power was clearly incorporated in the constitution. That being said, his then foremost docket-Louisiana Purchase, made the amendment of the constitution a consideration. This however doesn’t refute the fact that Jefferson’s strategic plans were met head-on with philosophical crisis concerning the purchase (McNamara 205).

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This research examines the moral tight spot underneath the purchase of the Louisiana.

Thomas Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase

Dating back in 1763 during the French and Indian war, France lost all if not most of her territory to North America. This loss was not really a loss to Napoleon who by all means was committed to step-up the French empire to another level, while still in the hands of the North Americans. Further into the history, Spain was ready and willing to help return Louisiana territory back to France. As McNamara puts it, the knowledge about the re-acquisition strategy of Louisiana by France, was not lightly taken by Jefferson. Somehow he knew that the onset of crisis was nearing, following his interest on the very territory (207).

As at 1803, Jefferson’s dream of buying Louisiana was becoming a reality. He fostered authentic negotiations to acquire Louisiana territory with the help of James Monroe and Robert Livingstone. Their arrival to France was met with the news that Napoleon had surrendered his previous determination to re-establish France.  The purchase negotiation was corroborated by a purchase treaty which demonstrated anti-federalism, according to the constitutional stipulations (Fischetti and James 278)

The legal denominations required senate’s ratification, the president’s signature and the House of Representatives to offer financial support, in order to render the Purchase Treaty valid. Jefferson was well known for his anti-federalist nature, yet for the sake of Louisiana Purchase he was more than willing to put aside his uncertainties for the overall good of the nation. Coming in at an angle that fully described the physical nature of this particular land, the purchase deal was worth something, if not everything, as portrayed by Jefferson. For this reason, it was logical for United States to part with approximately $15 million dollars as the acquisition price of a territory that stood on greater than 800,000 square miles of land (Fischetti and James 279)



The Moral Dilemma that Thomas Jefferson faced over the purchase of Louisiana from France

There were as many disadvantages to the Louisiana Purchase for President Jefferson as there were advantages”


How would an act of sacrificing one’s tastes and preferences for the sake of others be called? Approaching the then political context, there is no better way to phrase this act than a concrete achievement. On the other side of federal governance, Jefferson’s philosophical concerns disregarded control of poor delegation of power. All together, his need to gain acquisition of the Louisiana was far way important than his principles (McNamara 205)             Secondly, according to Fischetti and James, territorial expansion westwards was a step that practically went a long way to upsize the American land to a scale almost twice the original size. This meant good for Americans since a lot could be carried out in a larger space compared to a smaller one, in an economic perspective (281).

Thirdly, republicanism was the main reason behind Jefferson’s idea of being in the opposition. The infringement of his principles- strict constructionism and state’s rights for the sake of purchase was unquestionably a gesture of republicanism. The point here was to help bring under control the national government’s supremacy (McNamara 209).


Jefferson had to reconsider a number of things that attracted moral dilemma in every way possible. Whether the purchase of Louisiana was going to affect the French who lived there, whether the purchase was justifiable, what boundaries marks the new territory, or whether the acquired land was going to be under the same constitutional governance. These were some of the conflicting factors that made Jefferson skeptic about the whole deal. More worse was the fact that not everyone supported his “greatest achievement”. Giving up his principles of state’s rights and strict constructionism was far much a downfall as depicted by a number of critics. This issue surfaced as a pure challenge to Jefferson therefore questioning his morality (McNamara 209).


The purchase of Louisiana from France was quite an achievement according to Jefferson. This is for the reasons that required him to fore gore his philosophical reservations in order to give the purchase deal a successful completion. The deal was geared towards expanding the US territories to a level that covers the future needs of the state. Jefferson unwavering desires to expand westwards created fallout between his philosophies and what was stipulated in the constitution concerning territorial acquisition, which finally made his million-dollar act to be subjected to criticism.







Work cited

McNamara, Peter. “Thomas Jefferson’s Enlightenment Idea of Federalism.” The Ashgate Research Companion to Federalism 1024 (2016): 209.

Fischetti, John C., and James D. Kirylo. “The Looting of the American Dream.” Only in New Orleans. SensePublishers, 2015. 277-284.



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