Did Jefferson make a smart decision?
What was the Louisiana Purchase?
Shortly after America had declared independence and set up their own national government, they realized that they would need more space if they wanted to develop a strong, internationally recognized country. Thomas Jefferson was able to snag an awesome deal and got millions of acres of land out west for only three cents per acre! But was this really a smart decision? How would they learn about the new land? What did he really purchase and was it a smart idea to buy land that you have never seen?
This picture (from www.wikipedia.org) shows the territory of the Louisiana Purchase. The United States gained billions of acres of additional land to the West of where they already owned. This allowed for more space to settle on, farm on, or build businesses.
What were the drawbacks?
Although Jefferson gained a lot of land for the country, he was not fully aware of what he would be putting people through by forcing them to move in to it. With the land not being explored yet, what if he had just purchased a bunch of desert land and wasted millions of dollars? It was almost impossible to farm or live in deserts without any electricity during the 1800s. Also, the trek west would be dangerous without knowing what the land held. France previously owned the land, but had to give it up after a slave revolt in Haiti. Knowing that they were forced to give it up (for financial reasons), Jefferson would have no idea what this land would be like. It may not have been well cared for, which would again make it difficult for the Americans to prosper in this new land.
What were the benefits?
When Jefferson bought this land, he of course had many plans for how it could help the country. Many people relied on agriculture (farming) to make a living during this time. This land provided people much more space to do this. It would also allow the United States to increase their population. More land meant there could be more homes for people to live in. It also helped the United States become more independent. With France completely out of the territory, it left the United States to operate its government how the citizens felt best.
So.....Was it a good choice?
I believe purchasing the Louisiana Territory was a good choice for the Americans. Thomas Jefferson took a big step to help the country expand and prosper on its own. Although it was difficult for the Americans to travel west and there were some dangers with the unknown, it was necessary for the United States to use this land in order to gain more power. The benefits far outweight the drawbacks. Thomas Jefferson made a good choice!