Illinois on the West Coast?
209 years ago today the United States purchased from France, the Louisiana Territory, more than 800,000 square miles of land extending from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains. The price was 60 million francs, about $15 million. President Thomas Jefferson sent Monroe and Robert R. Livingston to Paris to negotiate the purchase of a tract of land on the lower Mississippi or, at least, a guarantee of free navigation on the river. Surprised and delighted by the French offer of the whole territory, they immediately negotiated the treaty. Jefferson was jubilant. At one stroke of the pen the United States doubled its size, an enormous tract of land would be open to settlement, and the free navigation of the Mississippi River would be assured. Had this deal not been made, think about the consequences. Quincy and Illinois would now be an English speaking part of the “western border” of the United States. Hannibal and Missouri would be speaking French and considered the “eastern border” of the French Territory. As it is now there are some differences between Quincy and Hannibal and Illinois and Missouri but not like it could be. Think about all the differences we would experience now if Thomas Jefferson hadn’t pursued the Louisiana Purchase with France 209 years ago. Crossing the bridges of Hannibal and Quincy today takes us now into different states but it could have been different countries if our forefathers hadn’t actively made this purchase. If I could say something to Thomas Jefferson today it would be..”thank you Mr. Jefferson and I really do like your last name”. Just something to think about on a gloomy Monday.