The acquisition of Louisiana posed several fundamentally new and vital questions to the American government and Congress, one of which was the question of the constitutional legitimacy of the purchase. The US Constitution did not contain an article providing the acquisition and accession of new territories to the union. Therefore, when the Franco-American treaty was received in Washington for ratification on July 14, 1803, the Jefferson administration had to legally formalize the incorporation of Louisiana acquired by the federal government into the United States (Everett 47). This had to be done either by adopting a special amendment to the Constitution or on the basis of its broad interpretation. Although Jefferson recognized that the Louisiana purchase was beyond the scope of the constitution, the President nevertheless actively advocated the territorial expansion of the United States and believed that Congress should approve the treaty. Later the American President addressed Congress with the third annual message, in which he justified the benefits of acquiring Louisiana for the United States and called on the legislature to ratify the treaty.
With its vast territory and colossal natural resources, the acquisition of Louisiana almost doubled the size of the United States and was of great importance for the subsequent history of the country. For many years to come, boundless space was opened for colonization and the development of Western lands, which created prerequisites for the further development of American capitalism. The annexation of Louisiana served as a precedent for future territorial acquisitions and played a significant role in developing expansionist ideology in the United States.
However, it is worth noting that for the local population, the incident had ambiguous consequences. As it was mentioned in the book “the young republic now claimed a diverse, complicated region populated by scores of American Indian societies as well as French and Spanish colonists” (Everett 45). In Louisiana, a specific system of relations between the light-skinned and dark-skinned population had previously developed. After the establishment of American power, an offensive against the rights of blacks, who made up about half of the population of the former colony, began. Later, Louisiana became one of the central slave-owning states, in which people who had at least one-quarter of “non-white” blood been subject to segregation. Moreover, the most tragic consequences of the deal of 1803 were for the Indians (Everett 69). If most of them did not even notice the formal French domination, then in just thirty years, the Americans ousted them from most of the Mississippi Valley. They were physically destroying or expelling them from their ancestral lands with the help of fraudulent treaties.
The dream of the founders of the United States was to free slaves and give each person land. To make America a country of free farmers, moreover, was an utterly feasible dream. The Louisiana purchase documents stipulated that all of its residents would become American citizens. Therefore, there were heated debates about the prohibition of slavery in the new territory, and there was a moment when the opponents of slavery almost achieved its abolition. It is vital that “a new generation of politicians supplanted the Missouri Compromise with political machinations to manage slavery’s spread into the West, making that region the opening battleground for the sectional crisis” (Everett 67). However, the wealthiest were the southern planters because behind them were English manufactories interested in cheap cotton, which was supplied by the slave-owning south. Louisiana eventually became a conglomerate of states with a free population and a flourishing economy, but for this, Americans had to go through a bloody war.
Everett, Derek. Creating the American West. Oklahoma, University of Oklahoma Press, 2014.