Teaching Students About the Louisiana Purchase


The Louisiana Purchase is still regarded as one of the most significant events in the United States’ history. As educators, it’s crucial to teach our students about the causes and effects of this monumental land acquisition. This article will provide a framework for exploring the Louisiana Purchase cause and effect, which can be incorporated into your lesson plans.

Causes of the Louisiana Purchase:

1. Financial Crisis in France: At the turn of the 19th century, France was going through a financial crisis. Napoleon Bonaparte needed money to fund his war efforts in Europe, which led him to consider selling the French territories in North America.

2. U.S. Population Expansion: During this period, Americans were migrating westward due to population growth and economic opportunities. The need for more land drove President Thomas Jefferson to contemplate purchasing the New Orleans port from France.

3. Fear of Foreign Intervention: The fear that France, Spain, or other European countries might gain control over the Mississippi River and the mouth of the Mississippi River also prompted Jefferson to strongly consider acquiring this strategically vital region.

Effects of the Louisiana Purchase:

1. Doubling U.S. Territory: With this acquisition, America’s territory was effectively doubled overnight – at a cost of just $15 million dollars, which equates to approximately 3 cents an acre! This instantly opened up vast tracts of land for settlement and significantly increased America’s potential for future expansion.

2. Promotion of Manifest Destiny: Believing that America should span from coast to coast – also known as Manifest Destiny – this purchase further fueled westward expansion and encouraged pioneers to settle in these new lands.

3. Reduced European Influence: The Louisiana Purchase substantially reduced foreign influence on American soil, ensuring U.S. control over resources like fur trade, shipping routes along the Mississippi River, and fertile farmland.

4. Native American Displacement: The expansion westward also led to the forced removal and migration of various Native American tribes, resulting in long-lasting consequences for native populations.


Teaching students about the Louisiana Purchase is a great opportunity to explore the notions of cause and effect within historical contexts. Understanding why this significant event occurred and what impacts it had on the nation from multiple perspectives can provide students with valuable insights that may be applied to other historical events. By teaching these lessons, teachers help shape a better understanding of our nation’s growth and development.

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