The Haitian Revolution, one of the most remarkable events in human history, destroyed French Emperor Napoleon I's dreams of creating a new French Empire in North America and opened the door to the Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the size of the United States. The Purchase, combined with the Lewis & Clark expedition that traversed it, was a great triumph of Thomas Jefferson's presidency, but at the same time the Purchase opened up vexing political and constitutional questions that may, in the end, have undermined Jefferson's vision of an expansive yeoman's republic, extended the system of slavery, and pushed the country onto the road toward Civil War.
Four questions that every American should be able to answer, but probably can't:
Or, to phrase things differently: Four questions that you'll be able to answer just as soon as you finish reading this:
One: How did Haitian slaves double the territory of the United States?
Two: Why did Thomas Jefferson believe the greatest accomplishment of his own presidency was unconstitutional?
Three: How did the Louisiana Purchase lead to the Civil War?
And Four: What do these questions have to do with each other?
Read on, and find out. A Voyage of Discovery awaits. (Literally.)