We the people
Hi. I’m Kelly Jean Kelly, and this is Monticello.
It is the home of Thomas Jefferson – America’s third president.
Jefferson took office in 1801.
When he left in 1809, the United States had doubled in size.
This is the story of the Louisiana Purchase.
The Louisiana Purchase was very controversial in its day.
President Jefferson didn’t have the formal authority to go ahead with this,
but everyone recognized that it was
very much in our national interest to proceed.
It makes us a continental republic.
It makes us the largest republic in world history,
and the possessor of natural resources
greater than any other country in the world.
They don’t know all that at the time.
Um, but they know that they’ve now stepped across the continent.
and that they’ll never be stopped.
The Louisiana Purchase was basically a real estate deal.
In 1803, the U.S. bought about
2 millions square kilometers of land
called ‘’Louisiana Territory” from France.
That is a big piece of land.
It includes all or part of 15 current U.S. states (not just Louisana),
as well as the Mississippi River.
The Louisiana Purchase was
also an important foreign policy move.
Buying Louisiana Territory ended
the French presence in North America.
But the Louisiana Purchase
wasn’t a great political maneuver.
It was more like an accident.
And it happened under the most unlikely president.
President Jefferson did not expect to buy so much land for the U.S.
In fact, he had completely different goals as president.
He wanted to reduce the debt,
and he wanted to reduce the power of the federal government.
The Louisiana Purchase did
not accomplish either of those goals.
It’s a violation of all the political principles .
he claims to believe in
He not only believes
the federal government should be weak,
But he believes the executive branch
should essentially be invisible.
And he doesn’t even want to have records
in the executive branch at all.
He doesn’t want people to think of the office of president
as anything monarchical or powerful.
So why does a president who doesn’t want to be too powerful
decide to buy this big piece of land?
In order to understand that,
We need to look across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe.
The political leader of France at that time was Napoleon Bonaparte.
He was fighting a war with other European powers.
Now, president Jefferson did
not really want to get tangled up with Europe’s affairs.
But a piece of information made him change his mind.
Jefferson learned that Spain
had secretly given Louisiana Territory to France.
All of a sudden, Jefferson realized that Napoleon
Could easily control the area right next to the U.S.
Jefferson would have to do something.
President Jefferson was most interested
in this place-New Orleans.
He wrote to the American ambassador to France:
‘’There is on the globe one single spot,
The possessor of which is our natural and habitual enemy.
It is New Orleans.‘’
In other words,whoever owned
New Orleans was the enemy of the United States.
But why was this place so important?
Let’s ask some local experts to find out.
So Jefferson said whoever owned the port of New Orleans.
was the sworn enemy of the United States.
And I keep wondering, why was it such a big deal?
Well, whoever controlled the port of New Orleans pretty much controlled
the entire trade up and down the Mississippi River Valley.
And at that point the United States
was growing towards the Mississippi River
and most of the shipping
that was done in the country was done up and down the river.
The thing to remember about the Mississippi River is it drains a huge
a huge basin, a huge swath
of the American continent,
all the way from the Alleghenies in western Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh,
over to the pacific slope, in Idaho.
That’s a lot of land, a lot of territory. So this is a powerful river,
So this is a powerful river,
just pouring all that water into one central conduit
and of course it all flows right past New Orleans.
Jefferson himself noted that over one-third of America’s goods
passed through New Orleans.
He knew that American farmers
and trappers needed free and easy access
to New Orleans to sell their products.
In other words,
that small, European city was the key to growing the U.S. economy.
Well, back in the days before steam propulsion,
they had to load up all of the goods that they could produce,
whether they were crops, or beaver pelts, or lumber,
无论是农产品 还是海狸皮 或者木材
whatever they could pull together to sell,
and they would load them up on flat boats.
All of those western rivers eventually join up with the Mississippi
and the Mississippi comes right by New Orleans.
And that’s why the river became so important,
and that’s why New Orleans,
Which had been the backwater of empire,
and began as merely as a listening post
onto Spanish America and the Floridas,
suddenly is vaulted into this port of major significance.
It became almost overnight like Cold War Berlin
for these imperial powers
that are tussling and wrangling over who is going to control it.
So president Jefferson asked an American diplomat
to try to buy New Orleans from Napoleon.
Robert Livingston was the American ambassador to France at the time.
And later, James Monroe,
who was the governor of Virginia then, joined him in Paris.
Congress said the U.S. government could spend 2 million dollars.
for the city of New Orleans and part of Florida.
But Jefferson said the ambassador could offer up to 10 million dollars.
The goal was just to have access to the Mississippi River,
and a way to get goods to market.
That’s all they wanted to buy was New Orleans.
They weren’t thinking about this huge territory,
just New Orleans,
that’s all they wanted.
Just to ensure navigation rights and the right of deposit,
the right to warehouse goods temporarily in New Orleans.
But Napoleon Bonaparte had a different idea in mind.
You see, he was having serious problems in a former French colony
当时 在一个前法国殖民地上 他遇到了严重的麻烦
called Saint-Domingue – a place that today we call Haiti.
The island had a profitable sugar trade.
Napoleon had wanted to seize control of the island again,
and use the money to extend the French empire into North America.
But the people who lived in Saint-Domingue refused to return to slavery.
They fought Napoleon’s troops, and eventually destroyed his army.
Napoleon had to give up on his dream of a North America empire.
When Monroe and Livingston came calling,
and say we want to buy New Orleans,
he says, well, look, I give you all of Louisiana, 15 million dollars.
他说 这样吧 一千五百万美元 我就给你整个路易斯安那
You might say that,
as W. E. B. Du Bois,
the great African-American historian once said,
is that Louisiana is Haiti’s gift
to Thomas Jefferson and the United States.
And that’s how the Louisiana Purchase happened,
or as they say in France, the sale of Louisiana, took place.
或者就如法国人所说的 路易斯安那售卖案 就那样发生了
For only a few more million dollars,
the U.S. got all they were hoping for and more.
President Jefferson was shocked – but delighted.
He understood the value of Louisiana territory.
The fertile, diverse land was good for farming and trade.
Jefferson believed it was good
for America’s system of government, too.
He hope the U.S. would remain an agricultural country,
populated mostly by framers who governed themselves.
He spoke of the country as an “empire of liberty”-
even though about one in five people living
in the U.S. at the time was a slave.
The Louisiana Purchase also increased
American political and economic stability.
And it established the U.S. as one of the largest countries in the world,
with enough natural resources to be an international power.
The Louisiana Purchase
is one of the things
that President Jefferson is best known for.
But, buying the area meant that he had to go against
some of his most important ideas.
He said that I know I’m violating my own principles here.
And for a while he think
he wants to propose a constitutional amendment
that might allow this to be legal.
But his advisors, chiefly James Madison,
say you can’t do that
because Napoleon has agreed to do this in
a kind of emotional outburst
and we’re not sure that he’s going to stick with his decision
and he might go back on us.
This is such an incredible opportunity that if we lose it,
We’ll regret it til our dying days.
So there is no constitutional amendment.
The U.S. Congress agreed.
The Louisiana Purchase was just
too good an opportunity to miss.
It essentially doubled the size of the country
and cost only about 4 cents an acre.
And it made New Orleans part of the U.S.
But the city’s early history
as part of Spain and France is still alive
in the architecture, the food, and the street names.
例如建筑风格 食物 以及街道的名字
A lot of the architecture of what we call the French Quarter
is actually Spanish colonial or Spanish Caribbean.
As you go around the city, we have Bourbon streets,
named after the French and Spanish royal family,
Dauphin Street, which is the French prince.
I could go on and on and on,
but a lot of those names are just enshrined in our street names.
New Orleans is also known for its music.
Its unique sound grew out of its unique population.
People from France, Spain, Africa, the Caribbean
这些人来自于法国 西班牙 非洲 以及加勒比地区
all lived together, danced together, and made music together.
他们在一起生活 跳舞 创作音乐
Where else could jazz have arisen,
traditional jazz, except in New Orleans?
I mean partly because people had to live so close to one another
You couldn’t really have segregated racial
enclaves or even ethnic enclaves
because everyone had to hug the ribbon of land close to the river.
That’s the high ground.
That mix of traditions and people was important in politics, too.
As time went on, New Orleans helped push the United States
toward more racial equality and fairer laws for everyone.
Well, it’s hard to imagine
what American history (would’ve) looked like
had New Orleans not been part of it.
I mean, just in terms of race relations, that Afro-Creole community,
a remarkable group of political,
intellectual radical around the time of the Civil War.
And they’re the ones, I think,
did a lot to kind of coax Lincoln toward the idea of
equal citizenship and even limited suffrage.
And they also, I think, probably pushed the envelope of racial equality
father than anywhere else.
That’s New Orleans. But what about the rest of the Louisiana Purchase?
President Jefferson and the members of Congress had virtually no idea
what the North American continent looked like
west of the Mississippi River.
Yet now it was – from the point of view of the U.S. government, at least
– officially part of the country.
One of them, Fisher Ames, says it’s just so wild and big it’s like outer space.
他们中的一人 费舍尔·艾姆斯说 这片区域如此原生态和广袤
it’s like outer space.
We don’t know what’s there
Jefferson himself thought that there might be dinosaurs out there.
It just so happened that the area from let’s say the Ohio River to the Rockies
is the richest and the most fertile area of it’s size
of any country in planet.
And it essentially –
even though the term doesn’t come into existence for another 30 year – (means)
“manifest destiny”, the notion that this American republic
is going to become the dominant power on the North American continent,
is assured once the Louisiana Purchase goes into effect.
The Louisiana Purchase pushed the United States in a whole new direction.
It doubled the size of the country.
It give American settlers in the West access to the Mississippi River
and the port of New Orleans.
And it made it possible for the United States
to become a player on the world stage.
Of course, President Jefferson was curious
about this new territory that the country had just bought.
In fact, he’d already asked someone to explore it.
That will be our next chapter in the Making of
a Nation with VOA Learning English.
I’m Kelly Jean Kelly.
We the people