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Painting of James Monroe (1758-1831), by Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828), Lantern slide 1912

Portrait - James Monroe
New York State Archives, NYSA_A3045-78_6515
 
Document Description
Portrait of James Monroe (1758-1831). From a painting by Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828). Owned by Mr. T. Jefferson Coolidge. Boston, Massachusetts, 1912.
 
Questions
Who decided that the United States would purchase the Louisiana Territory from France?
How much did the United States pay for the Louisiana Territory?
Was this a good purchase? Why or why not?
How might United States history be different if the United States had not bought the Louisiana Territory from France?
What major coastal city did the United States gain with the Louisiana Purchase?
What role did James Monroe play in the Louisiana Purchase?
What else is James Monroe famous for?
 
Historical Challenges
Research the political parties in the United States at the time of the Louisiana Purchase. To which parties did Thomas Jefferson, Aaron Burr, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, James Monroe, and Robert Livingston belong? What did members of the different political parties think about the Louisiana Purchase?
 
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: About how many dollars per square mile did the United States pay for the Louisiana Territory? If there are 640 acres in one square mile, about how much per acre did the United States pay? Does your number match the amount given by other sources?
Science: Choose five plants or animals that Lewis and Clark discovered on their expedition across Louisiana Territory. Make a booklet including one page for each discovery. For each discovery, draw a picture of the plant or animal, write its common and Latin names, describe the location and climate where it is found, and include any interesting facts about the species.
English Language Arts: Many of Thomas Jefferson’s opponents said that the Louisiana Territory was a worthless purchase and that Jefferson did not have the authority to purchase it without the approval of Congress. Chose a side and write a speech arguing for or against the United States’ purchase of the Louisiana Territory.
 
Resources
Adler, David. Picture Book of Lewis and Clark. Holiday House, Inc., May 2003. ISBN: 0823417956
Randsom, Candice. Lewis and Clark (History Maker Bios Series). July 2002. ISBN: 0760733902
Myers, Laurie. Lewis and Clark and Me: A Dog's Tale. Henry Holt & Company, Incorporated, August 2002. ISBN: 0805063684
 

Historical Context
The Louisiana Purchase has been called the greatest real estate venture in history. On April 30, 1803, the United States acquired from France 828,000 square miles of land west of the Mississippi River. This land stretched north from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada and west from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains. This new land nearly doubled the size of the United States!

France, led by Napoleon Bonaparte, was ready to sell the land. The French were on the brink of war with Britain and needed money for the war. The French were not willing to spare troops to guard the vast wilderness, and they did not see any use for this land. President Thomas Jefferson was thrilled at the Frenchmen’s willingness to sell the land, but suspected a trick so he sent two negotiators, Robert Livingston and James Monroe, to Paris to negotiate the deal. Although the Unites States initially offered $2 million for the land, the French asked for $15 million. Although this seems like an enormous amount of money, the United States jumped at the chance for this investment because it was a bargain. The United States paid $11,250,000 directly to France; the remainding $3,750,000 the French owed the United States anyway, so they agreed to cancel the debt.

 
Essential Question
How do individuals influence national and global events?
 
Check for Understanding
Describe the individual in the portrait and explain the role of James Monroe in westward expansion.