The Louisiana Purchase constituted many advantages and disadvantages for President Thomas Jefferson and for the country. Some of the moral dilemmas included were, whether to purchase Louisiana and turning on what the constitution says. Jefferson believed in strict constructionism meaning he found ways to incorporate ideas for certain instances into the constitution’s laws that weren’t initially written in there. So, while he is having a hard time figuring out whether he should purchase Louisiana, he is also worried about what people may think of him if he disobeys the constitution.
The Louisiana Purchase posed many advantages for the country. Jefferson’s decision to buy Louisiana expanded the U.S. massively. By any measure, it was one of the most colossal land transactions in history, involving an area larger than today’s France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Holland, Switzerland, and the British Isles combined (Harriss). If Jefferson would not have made the purchase, the U.S. lands would not be the same. Another advantage of the situation was the underground features. The new land flourished in gold, silver, and many other ores that people would eventually mine and use as currency (Harriss).
This meant that more people would immigrate to the United States, increasing the population. With the population increasing, the U.S. needed more housing and jobs available. People began to build up cities and towns until there was more than enough room for everyone. The expansion also led to more agriculture and farming, benefitting the people (paying jobs) and the country (Harriss). As people worked in farming, money was made, and the country eventually achieved wealthiness. This contributed to the building of roads and new businesses. The U.S. continued to grow beneficially because of Jefferson’s decision. Although there were many influencing aspects of purchasing Louisiana, there were also some downfalls.
Since the purchase expanded the U.S. so greatly, they came across problems that affected how the country grew. Thomas Jefferson was a huge public figure and was viewed as a positive influence to many people, but there were some that did not agree with his ways. He was known for being the one to make sure what he wants to do is done in a constitutional manner. When people accused Jefferson as being unconstitutional because of his strict constructionism, he made sure to prove them wrong. Jefferson had always stated his strong belief that the federal government’s powers should be interpreted strictly. Article IV of the Constitution said new states could be added, but made no provision for taking on foreign territories, Jefferson argued that a constitutional amendment was needed. (Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase). Jefferson struggled to convince the government that there were no rules against buying foreign lands.
He eventually decided to try to justify the situation. ‘He wrote in 1803, The General Government has no powers but such as the Constitution gives it. it has not given it the power of holding foreign territory, and still less of incorporating it into the Union. An amendment of the Constitution seems necessary for this.’ (Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase). All of this to say, Jefferson did not have a strong bond with his people, and this negatively affected the way the U.S. grew. Along with Jefferson being frowned upon for his doings, there were other disadvantages to the Louisiana Purchase. Before the purchase, France had just taken control of Louisiana.
After the U.S. took over Louisiana, Jefferson found out this information and instantly felt differently about the situation. French-controlled Louisiana would become a point of eternal friction with us, he wrote in April 1802 and would force us to marry ourselves to the British fleet and nation. (Greenspan). This instance created some tension between the two countries. Another complication was that of people of the U.S. having an opinion about buying Louisiana. Fisher Ames wrote, ‘We are to give money of which we have too little for the land of which we already have too much.’ (Greenspan). The U.S. had already claimed a lot of land and people began to think that it was too much. Jefferson did not think much about this and still bought it.
Was Thomas Jefferson a bad president? In my opinion, no, he was not a bad president. Jefferson may have used strict constructionism during his presidency (although some did not like it), but it truly exploited the United States’ future decisions and doings. While Jefferson was president, he accomplished many things. While president, Jefferson’s principles were tested in many ways. But Jefferson stood firm in ending the importation of slaves and maintaining his view of the separation of church and state. In the end, Jefferson completed two full and eventful terms as president. He also paved the way for James Madison and James Monroe, his political progs, to succeed him in the presidency. (Thomas Jefferson Establishing a Federal Republic). As the article says, he did not back down on his beliefs. He stayed loyal to the country and made it possible for others to become president as well. Jefferson will always be remembered for his intelligent decisions. He led his country to great places and is thanked for doing so.
In the end, I think that purchasing Louisiana had its ups and downs but each one benefited the United States. For better or for worse, I believe that the U.S. would not be where it is today without the Louisiana Purchase. Though we may have had some complications, this decision impacted the country in many ways and could not have been done without Thomas Jefferson. At the beginning, he was not fully trusted but people warmed up to his strict ways and realized that he knew what he was doing. Thomas Jefferson had some moral dilemmas along the way, but they challenged him to be the best president that he could be. He stood strong on his beliefs and never backed down which allowed people of the country to count on him for loyalty.
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