Transcribed from volume II of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar.

Louisiana Purchase.—On April 9, 1682, La Salle reached the mouth of the Mississippi river and claimed all the country drained by it and its tributaries in the name of France, and conferred upon the territory the name of Louisiana, in honor of Louis XIV, then king of France. In 1762 all that portion of the province lying west of the Mississippi river, with the island of New Orleans east of that river, was ceded to Spain by the secret treaty of Fontainebleau, which was concluded on Nov. 3 and ratified ten days later. By the treaty of Paris, Feb. 10, 1763, Louis XV ceded to Great Britain all that portion of Louisiana lying east of the Mississippi "except the town of New Orleans and the island upon which it is situated." By the treaty of Sept. 3, 1783, which established peace between the United States of America and Great Britain at the close of the Revolutionary war, all the British possessions east of the Mississippi and south of Canada became the territory of the United States. That portion of the original province of Louisiana lying west of the Mississippi was ceded back to France "with the same extent that it now has in the hands of Spain, and had while in the possession of France," by the treaty of St. Ildefonso, Oct. 1, 1800.

This was the condition of affairs when Thomas Jefferson was inaugurated as president of the United States on March 4, 1801. About three weeks after Mr. Jefferson was inaugurated a definitive treaty of peace was concluded at Amiens between France and Great Britain, but it was not long until the peace was "broken by the vaulting ambition of Napoleon Bonaparte, who had been made first consul of the French republic in 1799, and in 1802 secured the consulate for life." In the fall of 1802 Napoleon sent Gen. Victor to Holland to fit out an army and sail for America for the purpose of taking possession of Louisiana, but the English were on the watch for some movement of this nature and Victor was not permitted to leave Europe. President Jefferson was somewhat anxious over the prospect of having the lower Mississippi pass from the hands of Spain to a powerful nation like France, and another cause for anxiety among American statesmen was that the cession of Louisiana might afford England a pretext for invading that province in case Great Britain and France became engaged in war.

The relations between the United States and France at that time were of the most amicable character, owing in a great degree to the treaty of alliance concluded on Feb. 6, 1778, one provision of which was that "Neither of the two parties shall conclude either truce or peace with Great Britain without the formal consent of the other being first obtained; and they mutually engage not to lay down their arms until the independence of the United States shall have been formally or tacitly assured by the treaty or treaties that shall terminate the war."

The independence of the United States was acknowledged by Great Britain in the treaty of 1783, above referred to, when France and the United States agreed. The treaty of St. Ildefonso, being a secret one, the United States authorities were somewhat at sea as to the best course to pursue. However, in the spring of 1803 Mr. Jefferson instructed Robert R. Livingston, the American minister to France, to commence negotiations for the purchase of the island of Orleans and the Floridas, if they were included in the secret treaty of St. Ildefonso, in order to secure for American commerce an outlet through the Mississippi river. To encourage the negotiations he was also instructed to intimate that "on the day that France takes possession of New Orleans the United States will go into an alliance with Great Britain." Against such an alliance Napoleon realized that he could not possibly hold Louisiana, and decided to sell the whole province to the United States. The Memoirs of Lucian Bonaparte say that this decision was reached as early as April 6, more than three weeks before the final treaty of cession was concluded. On Easter Sunday (April 10) Napoleon called in two of his ministers—Barbe Marbois and Alexander Berthier—and laid before them the whole situation. After referring to the attitude of England he said: "The conquest of Louisiana would be easy, if they only took the trouble to make their descent there. I have not a moment to lose in putting it out of their reach. I know not whether they are not already there. It is their usual course, and if I had been in their place I would not have waited. I wish, if there is still time, to take from them any idea that they may have of ever possessing that colony. I think of ceding it to the United States. I can scarcely say I cede it to them, for it is not yet in our possession. If, however, I leave time to our enemies, I shall transmit only an empty title to those republicans, whose friendship I seek."

In the long conference which followed Barbois favored the cession and Berthier opposed it. No conclusion was reached that day, but early the following morning Napoleon sent for Barbois and showed him despatches from London to the effect that "military and naval preparations were being pushed forward with great rapidity." After going over the whole matter carefully the discussion ended by Napoleon's saying: "I renounce Louisiana. It is not only New Orleans that I will cede; it is the whole colony, without reservation. I renounce it with the greatest regret. To attempt obstinately to retain it would be folly. I direct you to negotiate this affair with the envoys of the United States."

About this time James Monroe, whose term as governor of Virginia had just expired, was expected in Paris as an envoy extraordinary to assist Mr. Livingston in the negotiations. He had been minister to France in 1794 and had been recalled by Washinton[sic] on account of his sympathy for the French republicans—a fact that doubtless influenced Mr. Jefferson in making his appointment. Monroe arrived on the 13th with a draft of a treaty for the cession of the island of Orleans and the Floridas, but the entire situation was changed by the decision of the first consul to cede the whole province. After several consultations, in which Livingston, Monroe, Barbois, Berthier and Talleyrand participated, a treaty was concluded on April, 30, 1803, by which the province was ceded to the United States for 80,000,000 livres, with the understanding that 20,000,000 livres should be used for the liquidation of the French spoiliation claims—indemnity for cargoes and prizes. These claims at that time amounted to about $3,750,000, so that the total purchase price was about $15,000,000. Thus not only was much more territory ceded to the United States than was originally contemplated by Mr. Jefferson, but it was also an entirely different territory.

Article III of the treaty provided that "The inhabitants of the ceded territory shall be incorporated into the Union of the United States and admitted as soon as possible, according to the principles of the Federal constitution, to the enjoyment of all rights, advantages and immunities of citizens of the United States; and in the meantime they shall be maintained and protected in the free enjoyment of their liberty, property and the religion which they profess."

Under this provision practically all of the territory now comprising the State of Kansas passed into the hands of the United States, and fifty-eight years later Kansas was admitted into the Union, being the 21st state admitted after the formation of the Federal republic.

Pages 188-191 from volume II of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.