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exclaim as he rose and shook hands with Monroe and Marbois: “We have lived long, but this is the noblest work of our whole lives. ... From this day the United States take their place among the powers of the first rank. The instruments which we have just signed ... prepare ages of happiness for innumerable generations of human creatures." The price paid for that princely domain out of which fourteen States of the Union have been carved was fifteen million dollars. A little over a century later the value of the farm property alone in those States was sixteen billion dollars, or more than a thousand times the price of the purchase.
It was a very embarrassed rejoicing with which Jefferson received the report of the purchase of the whole of Louisiana. This advocate of strict economy had spent on his own executive authority an amount equal to almost three-fourths of the debt which Hamilton had assumed for the States, with the sanction of Congress. This champion of the letter of the Constitution had exercised the power of acquiring foreign territory and promising foreigners admission to the citizenship of the United States for which no clause could be found among the "enumerated powers.” This opponent of the extension of the “general Government” had stretched its power far beyond any point the Federalists had reached, and laid the foundation, in the creation of an immense national territory in the West, for that definitive triumph of the nation over the States which his “countrymen” of the second generation fought so desperately to avert. :
Jefferson was quick to recognize the irregularity of his act and cry, “Peccavi!” He had no apology to make for the nature of the bargain, and looked to “this duplication of area for extending a government so free and economical as ours” as a great achievement, which he was sure the nation would not disavow., But he confessed that "the Executive, in seizing this fugitive occasion which so much advances the good of their country, have done an act beyond the Constitution.” He compared his deed to that of a guardian who invests his ward's money in a valuable piece of property and trusts that the benefits to accrue will redeem the unauthorized risk. He expected Congress "in casting behind them metaphysical subtleties and risking themselves like faithful servants,” to ratify the act and pay for Louisiana, and then “throw themselves on the country for doing for them unauthorized what we know they would have done for themselves had they been in a situation to do it.” “Paternalism" in government, which Jefferson had always abhorred, could hardly be more boldly stated!
Jefferson drew up an amendment to the Constitution to regularize the purchase of Louisiana, ex post facto. But when letters came from Livingston at
Paris warning him that there must be no delay in the ratification of the treaty and the appropriation of the funds, lest Napoleon should change his mind, Jefferson changed his tone. He wrote to some friends to whom he had expressed his desire for a constitutional amendment that the less said about the "constitutional difficulties” respecting Louisiana the better, and that whatever was “necessary for surmounting them must be done sub silentio.” Accordingly, when Congress met by special call in October nothing was said of the irregularity of the purchase. The Senate promptly ratified the treaty by a vote of twenty-four to seven, and the House two days later voted by ninety to twenty-five the necessary funds, by the authorization of eleven million two hundred and fifty thousand dollars of six-per-cent stock. The little group of Federalists made a desperate resistance. They attacked the treaty as unconstitutional on the ground that Congress alone could "regulate trade" and "admit new States to this Union.” They asked whether the payment of so large a sum of the public money to a belligerent nation were not virtually a breach of neutrality. They doubted the validity of Napoleon's title to Louisiana, and declared that we had simply bought of France at an exorbitant price “the authority to make war on Spain.” But their opposition was vain. They could muster only a handful of votes. The Louisiana Treaty was as popular as the Jay
Treaty had been unpopular. Public opinion carried the administration to a splendid victory, and "the theory of strict construction was abandoned in the house of its friends.” • If the Constitution was strained by the treaty acquiring the province of Louisiana, the Declaration of Independence was outraged in the provisions made for its government. Thomas Jefferson, the author of the document which declares that governments "derive their just powers from the consent of the governed," was, by an act of March, 1804, given an authority over the Territory of Orleans which resembled that of an imperial Roman governor rather than a constitutional Republican magistrate. He simply replaced King Charles of Spain as ruler of the province. He was to appoint the governor of the Territory, the council to make its laws, the superior judges in its courts--in short, the whole governmental machinery, executive, legislative, judicial. The thirty thousand inhabitants of Louisiana, who by the third article of the treaty had been promised that they should be "incorporated into the Union of the United States and admitted as soon as possible ... into all the rights, advantages, and immunities of citizens of the United States," were relegated to a state of colonial dependence as absolute as that of our Filipinos in 1901. They protested in a memorial drawn up by Edward Livingston, the younger brother of the minister who had negotiated the purchase, begging to know whether political principles which were valid on the Atlantic coast lost their force when transferred to the banks of the Mississippi, and citing the Jeffersonian doctrines of 1775 as a rebuke to the Jeffersonian policies of 1804. "Taxation without representation, an obligation to obey laws without any voice in their foundation, the undue influence of the executive upon legislative proceedings, and a dependent judiciary, formed, we believe, very prominent articles in the list of grievances complained of by the United States at the commencement of their glorious contest for freedom. Were the patriots who composed your councils mistaken in their political principles ?” The act of 1804 was somewhat modified in response to this strong and able remonstrance; but still the President was left with unprecedented powers over the new domain.
Louisiana was handed over to the French by the Spanish governor on November 30, 1803, and twenty days later was transferred from France to the United States. Just what its boundaries were was uncertain then and has continued to be a subject of lively controversy among historians ever since. Did it include Texas on the west, or any part of the Floridas on the east? A map in the French foreign of fice (drawn by Marbois ?) includes both these regions in the Louisiana which France secured from Spain in the treaty of 1800, and General Victor's instructions