The year was 1800 and American farmers were on their way to join the settlements in the Appalachian Mountains. For years Americans had lived there farming crops and raising animals then shipping them down the Mississippi River to the port city of New Orleans. Once in New Orleans these crops were loaded onto boats and shipped to Europe and city's on the east coast. The Mississippi river meant everything to these farmers, it influenced the Americans through export and the Europeans through import, it truly was important to everyone. James Madison was known for writing, "The Mississippi is to them everything. It is the Hudson, the Delaware, the Potomac, and all the navigable rivers rolled into one stream."
On the western side of the Mississippi lay the Louisiana Territory, an immense unexplored region whose head lay in Canada and its tail in Texas. It also spread its wings all the way from the Mississippi to the Rocky Mountains. This vast land was first claimed by France, but was then transferred to Spain's rule after the French/Indian War. Unknown to the Americans Napoleon Bonaparte of France had convinced Spain to return Louisiana to France. This man had plans for Louisiana, He hoped to settle the territory with thousands of French farmers. He hoped that these farmers could supply food for the slaves who worked France's sugar plantations located in the Caribbean. American farmers were dismayed by the plan, this territory of Louisiana included New Orleans, the port city that they so depended on to ship their crops!
So in order to please the farmers President Thomas Jefferson sent James Monroe to France, telling him to offer Bonaparte 7.5 million dollars in exchange for New Orleans. In the mean time Napoleon had changed his mind. Just two years earlier, in 1801 a slave named Toussaint L' Ouverture had led a slave revolt in the French Caribbean colony now known as Haiti. As a result of this he had no slaves to farm his land, he had no need of the Louisiana Territory. In addition to not having a need for the territory he knew that France and Britain were on the brink of war, he figured that he could at least gain some profit from the territory by selling it instead of losing it in war.
When Monroe saw the French ruler's offer of the entire territory he was shocked. The Louisiana Purchase could probably one of the most influential land expansions to occur in American history. The purchase itself would nearly double the surface area of the United States! It didn't take long for Monroe to agree, he signed the treaty on April 30, 1803. This new purchase caused an uproar of emotions across America. Many felt that such a purchase would hinder the government's authority in the area. Politicians in the East fretted that they would lose their hold on power. They claimed that eventually Louisiana would make States, enough to outvote the east, it would split the country. Others disagreed with the $15,000,000 price tag, a Boston critic wrote, "We are to give money of which we have too little, for land of which we already have too much". Opponents of Jefferson and Monroe also claimed that they were tearing the constitution to tatters. They said it made no provision for purchasing foreign territory.
Even though many disapproved, the U.S. still supported the purchase because of the great deal they received from an economic standpoint: the nation paid only $15 million for the whole purchase of 530,000,000 acres, this less than 3¢ an acre. The land, however, was as good as unknown to the Americans living in the Eastern U. S. It was for this reason that Thomas Jefferson, the president at the time, sent Meriwether Lewis and William Clark into the frontier. Sacagawea, a Native American from a Shoshone tribe, acted as a guide for the newcomers and aided them in survival skills such as finding food, water, etcetera while in this "wilderness."