- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
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 ...
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.
Most high school students ought to remember learning a little something about the Louisiana Purchase, but his pivotal event in American history has rarely received sustained attention until this year, the event's bicentennial. Noted historian Fleming's brief study, an entry in Wiley's Turning Points series, presents an overstuffed look at the machinations that prompted Napoleon, famous for his conquests and colonial aspirations, to sell this vast piece of land for $15 million. Fleming's account highlights the importance of two leaders, Thomas Jefferson and Napoleon, along with their closest advisers, but the most memorable figures are the handful of diplomatic negotiators working behind the scenes, life Robert Livingston, the ambassador to France who originated the idea of buying the Louisiana territory, therefore by easing the threat of war between the U. S. and France. The narrative weaves in several key events on both sides of the Atlantic, including the rampant yellow fever in Santo Domingo and substantially delayed and weakened Napoleon's troops, volatile conversations between Jefferson and his cabinet about whether the purchase required an amendment to the Constitution and Napoleon's near retraction of the sale. The story carries a surprising amount of drama, though Fleming (Liberty! The American Revolution) does little to play this up. His narrative is straightforward but cluttered with detail, showing more breadth than depth, and is intently focused on the "mix of destiny and individual energy and creativity" that supported one of the world's great diplomatic triumphs. (July 11)
Forecast: This could do well in a bicentennial display with John Kukla's A Wilderness So Immense and Charles Cerami's Jefferson's Great Gamble, which offer fuller accounts of the purchase (Publishers Weekly, May 26, 2003)
"...there should be more books like this: concise, tightly argued, clearly written..." (Sunday Times, 31 August 2003)
2. Realist at Work.
3. The Game Begins.
4. Frustration All Around.
5. Aedes Aegypti to the Rescue.
6. The Dying General.
7. A War Hero to the Rescue.
8. Between Peace and War.
9. All Eyes on Paris.
10. The Big Bargain.
11. Hanging Fire.
12. Constitution Bending in Washington D.C.
13. Triumph—and New Perils.
14. Destiny Takes Charge.
15. The Final Challenge.