Page:The Harvard Classics Vol. 51; Lectures.djvu/53

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European state system.[1] Partly to ensure such a dependence of the United States upon herself, and partly to procure a granary for her West Indian Islands, France now urged Spain to give her Louisiana and Florida, promising protection against the American advance.

The Alleghenies seemed to the leaders of French policy the proper boundaries for the Union. At last; in 1800, Napoleon so far mastered Spain as to force her to yield Louisiana to him; and the Spanish Intendant at New Orleans, pending the arrival of French troops, closed the Mississippi to American commerce. The West was in a flame. It had now acquired a population of over three hundred and eighty thousand, and it threatened the forcible seizure of New Orleans. Even the peaceful and French-loving President Jefferson hinted that he would seek an English alliance, and demanded the possession of the mouth of the Mississippi from France, arguing that whoever held that spot was our natural enemy. Convinced that it was inexpedient to attempt to occupy New Orleans in view of the prospect of facing the sea power of England and an attack by the American settlers, Napoleon capriciously tossed the whole of the Province of Louisiana to Jefferson by the Louisiana Purchase Treaty[2] of 1803, and thereby replenished his exchequer with fifteen million dollars, made friends with the United States, and gave it the possibility of a noble national career by doubling its territory and by yielding it the control of the great central artery of the continent.


The expansive spirit of the West grew by what it fed on. The Ohio valley coveted Canada, and the South wished Florida, where England exercised an influence upon the Spanish administration. It was the West that took the lead—bringing on the war of 1812. In the peace negotiations in 1814 Great Britain tried to establish a neutral zone of Indian country between Canada and the Ohio Valley settlements, but by the treaty[3] the United States retained its former possessions. By the convention of 1818 they extended the boundary between Canada and the United States from the Lake of the Woods to the Rocky Mountains along the forty-ninth parallel, leaving the

  1. Compare "Washington's Farewell Address," in H. C., xliii, 237, 238, 239; 243–246.
  2. H. C., xliii, 250.
  3. H. C., xliii, 255.