The Louisiana Purchase profoundly affected the course of American development. Yet it was made possible by events largely outside American control. This unit might therefore enable you to explore with your students the nature of history itself—the web of events that lead history down a particular path.
As part of this, you might help your students sort out the roles played by critical figures like Thomas Jefferson. We have included a writing exercise that encourages them to consider the range of reasons Jefferson supported the acquisition of the Louisiana Territory. Sorting out his political, ideological, and military concerns should lead them to a better understanding of the various and complex factors influencing history.