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Other titles in the Turning Points series:
The Louisiana Purchaseby Thomas Fleming
Synopses & Reviews
A renowned historian?s fascinating account of how the United States doubled its size.
In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson bought the Louisiana Territory from France for $15 million. The purchase, which included over 600 million acres, extended the boundaries of the United States from the Mississippi River to the Rockies, ending French colonial ambitions in North America, adding lands that would become the better part of thirteen states, and fueling the idea of Westward expansion and Manifest Destiny.
Now, historian Thomas Fleming takes a fresh look at this decisive moment in American history — and brings to life the diplomatic maneuvering and political battles that led to the purchase. We encounter a cavalcade of striking personalities: Jefferson, the enigmatic, mercurial ideologue; James Madison, the shrewd, eminently realistic secretary of state; Robert Livingston, the Hudson River grandee who was ambassador to France; Alexander Hamilton, who energized New England opposition to the "unconstitutional" purchase; Talleyrand, the supremely corrupt foreign minister of France; and Napoleon Bonaparte, the man of destiny himself. Brimming with vivid details, forgotten facts, and astute insights, The Louisiana Purchase is a treat for history readers everywhere.
Book News Annotation:
A fountain of history and historical fiction, Fleming here recounts how France and the fledgling US, the only two republics in the world at the time, transformed their relationship from open warfare to consensual transaction between 1800 and 1802. He also tells of President Jefferson's subsequent difficulty selling the deal to Congress. He does no provide an index, and offers a list for further reading rather than an bibliography. Annotation (c)2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From The Louisiana Purchase
Like many other major events in world history, the Louisiana Purchase is a fascinating mix of destiny and individual energy and creativity. . . . Thomas Jefferson would have been less than human had he not claimed a major share of the credit. In a private letter . . . the president, reviving a favorite metaphor, said he "very early saw" Louisiana was a "speck" that could turn into a "tornado." He added that the public never knew how near "this catastrophe was." But he decided to calm the hotheads of the west and "endure" Napoleon's aggression, betting that a war with England would force Bonaparte to sell. This policy "saved us from the storm." Omitted almost entirely from this account is the melodrama of the purchase, so crowded with "what ifs" that might have changed the outcome-and the history of the world.
The reports of the Lewis and Clark expedition . . . electrified the nation with their descriptions of a region of broad rivers and rich soil, of immense herds of buffalo and other game, of grassy prairies seemingly as illimitable as the ocean. . . . From the Louisiana Purchase would come, in future decades, the states of Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, and large portions of what is now North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Minnesota, Colorado, and Louisiana. For the immediate future, the purchase, by doubling the size of the United States, transformed it from a minor to a major world power. The emboldened Americans soon absorbed West and East Florida and fought mighty England to a bloody stalemate in the War of 1812. Looking westward, the orators of the 1840s who preached the "Manifest Destiny" of the United States to preside from sea to shining sea based their oratorical logic on the Louisiana Purchase.
TURNING POINTS features preeminent writers offering fresh, personal perspectives on the defining events of our time.
"An extraordinary new series intended to capture extraordinary moments in history."
In 1801, relations between the worlds only two republics, the United States and France, were at a low ebb. American merchants had just lost millions of dollars to French privateers in the "Quasi-War" of the late 1790s, and Napoleon was scheming to acquire the Louisiana Territory from Spain and create a "wall of brass" that would halt Americas westward expansion. Yet only a few years later, Napoleon agreed to sell Louisiana to the United States for $15 million. How did America manage to double its territory and end French colonial ambitions in the New Worldwithout firing a shot?
This lively book by noted historian Thomas Fleming delivers the answers. Taking us behind the scenes in Thomas Jeffersons raw "federal village" of Washington, D.C., and inside the duplicitous world of Napoleonic Paris, Fleming shows how Bonaparte haters in Spain, the French armys disastrous failure in Haiti, some wily American negotiating, and Napoleons resolve to renew his war with "perfidious Albion" led to the momentous French decision to sell Louisianaand cede 838,000 square miles of land to the United States. Along the way, we meet a host of fascinating characters as they attempt to advance their nations interestsand their personal ambitionsthrough diplomacy, threats, lies, bribery, and treachery:
The story doesnt end with Frances agreement to sell Louisiana. The United States had only six months to ratify the treatyand Federalists, with the exception of General Alexander Hamilton, derided the deal as a waste of money. Jefferson himself doubted the constitutionality of the purchase. But in October 1803, the Senate ratified the treaty and a tiny American army occupied sullen New Orleans. Jeffersons devious rival, former Vice President Aaron Burr, failed in his attempt to utilize this resentment to revolutionize the new territories. The American republic was on its way to becoming a world power.
About the Author
Thomas Fleming, a well-known historian, is the author of more than forty books of fiction and nonfiction, including Duel: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the Future of America; Liberty!: The American Revolution; and The New Dealers War: FDR and the War Within World War II. A Fellow of the Society of American Historians and the former Chairman of the American Revolution Round Table, he writes regularly for American Heritage and appears frequently on NPR, PBS, the History Channel, and the Today show.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1. Idealist at Work
Chapter 2. Realist at Work
Chapter 3. The Game Begins
Chapter 4. Frustration all Around
Chapter 5. Aedes Aegypti to the Rescue
Chapter 6. The Dying General
Chapter 7. A War Hero to the Rescue
Chapter 8. Between Peace and War
Chapter 9. All Eyes on Paris
Chapter 10. The Big Bargain
Chapter 11. Hanging Fire
Chapter 12. Constitution Bending in Washington D.C
Chapter 13. Triumph — And New Perils
Chapter 14. Destiny Takes Charge
Chapter 15. The Final Challenge
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