The historical audacity of the Louisiana Purchase – Judy Walton

Translator: Andrea McDonough
Reviewer: Bedirhan Cinar Have you heard the one about Thomas Jefferson and the Louisiana Territory? Thomas Jefferson, author of The Declaration of Independence, was not a fan of the new constitution presented in 1787. He was very worried that The Constitution gave too much power to the new, national government, and not enough power to the states, an issue known as “big government”. Jefferson only reluctantly agreed to support it when his friend, James Madison, promised to propose a bill of rights after it was ratified. But Jefferson’s fears about big government did not go away. For example, Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, proposed a national bank in 1790, and Jefferson knew there was no provision in The Constitution to permit such a thing. Hamilton claimed some sort of implied powers mumbo-jumbo. Sure, it wasn’t written in The Constitution, but The Constitution implied that it could be done. But, Jefferson wasn’t buying it. Nonetheless, the bank was established by Hamilton and President Washington. When Jefferson was sworn in as President in 1801, he pledged to reduce the size and scope of the national government. But, of course, things didn’t go exactly as he had planned. Spain secretly transferred the Louisiana Territory to France right beneath Jefferson’s nose. When Congress found out, they quickly began discussions with France to buy a piece of the territory along the Mississippi River for about $2 million. But, there was one little problem: Jefferson knew there was no provision in The Constitution to buy foreign territory. So what was a strict constructionist to do? First, he tried to get an amendment to The Constitution passed that would expressly permit the purchase, but Congress wasn’t willing to do it. Then, without permission, the U.S. negotiators in France cut a deal for all of the territory for a cool $15 million dollars. That new land doubled the size of the nation! Now Jefferson was really stuck. He knew that the territory would be a great acquisition for the country, providing lots of new land for farmers and other settlers, but how could he constitutionally justify it? In the end, Jefferson turned to the argument used by his old foe Alexander Hamilton. He claimed that the power to purchase the territory is implied in The Constitution’s treaty-making power. This was the exact argument that he had mocked openly a decade before, so it must have crushed his pride to have to use it. But more importantly, he may have committed the biggest big government play ever! How ironic is it that one of the biggest opponents of big government doubled the size of the young country and did so while openly questioning its constitutionality? At $15 million, which is about three cents an acre, it has been called by many the greatest real estate deal in the history of the United States.

Comments 100

  • I agree completely. This video is totally in favor of Jefferson and his plans.

  • I greatly enjoyed the graphics that tightly coordinated with the narrative.

  • It makes me wonder how land grabbing "mine mine mine" is so okay with the human psyche/gov't.

  • Wow you seem to be very… touched by this gentleman's comment. Mind I reccomend you this rage pill by Trool Pharamaceuticals?

  • You do realize these videos are targeted towards elementary and middle school students right? Don't over-analyze the delivery of an immensely simplified issue and then make judgements upon it. That is not fair to the writers of the video, nor is it fair to people in the comments looking for further discussion.

  • Funny I thought the thesis was a little left wing. As in "you can't double size of your country without big government"… Funny what ones on bias will do huh? lol

  • I think you're right. Just from all the hate speech coming from the right over the past several years, they've really tainted the term "big government". I do associate it as a term used primarily for attacks.
    Thus, I would think that they could use a different term perhaps, and yet still make it simple enough for kids to understand.
    I'm just re-watching it now. And I see that it wasn't just *Big Government*, but also the discussion about the National Bank, and again the narrator emphasis.

  • All this happened back when Presidents actually cared what was in the Constitution. George W Bush signed into law campaign finance reform even though he openly thought parts of the bill were unconstitutional. Barack Obama used US military power in Libya without getting congressional approval blatantly ignoring key provisions in the Constitution.

  • TEDEd even had a talk about how these people are normally left wing. leave it to a liberal to take offense over nothing 😛

  • just one extra chromosome is all he needs

  • I agree that they could've used a better term, it sounded a bit out of place.

  • ….wow…wow….wow…. the US bought half of it's land from France?!

  • @David Learmonth

  • She forgot to make mention that it was Moorish territory first. Part of the hidden history of these immigrants.

  • Uh hmmm…. Now they should do Manifest Destiny…

  • The use of current political buzz words in this presentation gets my skeptical hackles up.

  • Realized today that this channel is directed towards educating Americans and not the whole world…or like most Americans, TED Ed also thinks USA IS the world 🙁

  • Bankers = Evil.

  • Biggest presidential hypocrite? Maybe, but this at least gives me some closure when thinking about our modern day president's hypocrisy, for example, "conservative" Reagan who spiked the national debt, or "liberal" Obama who continued the wars. If Jefferson could be forgiven, why can't today's presidents be?

  • to be a good President you have to be pragmatic and swallow the bitter pill for the good of the country.

  • The Louisiana Purchase was for what is a third of the USA now not the state of Louisiana, where you not schooled much?

  • No need for insults. I'm very much aware of what the Louisiana Purchase is. Even if I weren't, they stated that exact same thing in the video. I was simply referring to the state which is the namesake of the purchase and the intent of the entire purchase in the first place. There's no reason at all for you to talk down to me.

  • Jefferson was an idiot

  • Land transfer from Spain to France to United States all without consulting the people actually living in the area. Isn't that a conflict of interest with that whole "government is made by the consent of the governed" thing?
    We all know Jefferson was a hypocrite when he wrote the Declaration proclaiming that "all men are created equal"
    Continued Colonial thinking from American Historians.

  • Wasn't the best real estate deal in United States' history colonization? $0.00 < $0.03

  • What state are you from?

  • I meant more like coming to America and taking lands from their native owners.

  • you mean we *can't use it

  • You're talking to Jimi Hendrix. He was stoned through school. Don'tcha know?
    Thenagain, so was I….

  • forget everything you learned in history class. It's just 1 big fat lie.

  • the video maker is relating to "pre-programmed" sheep. What did you expect Walter Croncite?

  • Here's the sad truth to the matter. The government isn't suppose to own ANYTHING.
    So this little video is basically a prop for the extorted history of this country as the saga continues today.

  • >implying powers

  • europeans selling the native american's land, seems legit

  • my ass implied to fart

  • not sure. I do know that even your local government(s) are buying up what ever pristine property they can get their filthy hands on. Please check to see if I'm wrong or right.

  • You do know, the buyers (aka your ancestors, if you are a not native American use citizen) were europeans too? Also the land was not of the native americans, since it was taken by force, but we know that if that had not happened and wasn't a practice, a great of the world population would still hunt with spears and live in tents (Including all the colonies, not just america)

  • Americans, as a general rule, aren't schooled much. I know folks (with their high school diplomas no less) who've never heard of people like Ferdinand Magellan, who don't know how to use apostrophes, who can't grasp their they're there.
    It's pretty bad. But it's important to not be demeaning, just helpful.

  • and the idiots (Democrats) try to say Hillary is up there with the best Secretaries of State in our history.

  • so thomas jefferson was a real politician… went back on his words and lied… so its not just modern politics

  • Even the "Founding Fathers" manipulated the language of the constitution to rationalize their actions.

  • I agree with you. This is much too simplistic but I guess they wanted to make it witty and fun within 4 minutes. 🙂

  • That's how we roll

  • America did not take land from natives that owned it.
    Their philosophy was not to own the land , but to exist with it.
    European settlers displaced the native population is the correct term.
    Had they been a more advanced society out of the stone age … they could have united in repelling foreign invaders.

    Ofcourse by todays societies standards , those kind of actions are found morally reprehensible. But are we to spend the rest of time judging the past by the present?

  • Louisiana wasn't Napoleon's to sell anymore than northern Siberia is mine to sell. Just another land grab by competing military nationalists hiding behind some transparent parchment fiction.

  • This shit is gay as fuckkkk

  • Hi mr davis

  • the narrator sounds just like kirito from sweabridged

  • Mr. Williams Was Here!

  • Mr. Benson was here as well!

  • o no ted talks when I was looking for real history cringe

  • i like your videos

  • can't believe jefferson wood buy dis land from napoleon and the spanish!!! What!!!!? exactly why we always be in debt! 25 million gone just because dis clown wants more land. on top of dat he makes his own ahmenment so he can get away wit it sounds like some illuminati plan. dis ish cray. nd 2day we still got dis garbage,=. make da change. Yeezy for PreZ 2020.

  • This guy has 2 million subscribbles and I never heard of him

  • subcribe to me

  • What did the United States get when it purchased the Louisiana territory from the French? Did the French have deeds to the property? Was not Louisiana  a claim that the French had on the territory, and not a property right? So the United States acquired the "right" to move settlers into lands that were already settled by native Americans. Over the course of the 19th century the United States eviscerated the Indian Nations, both by murder and by broken treaties, and by placing them in concentration camps known otherwise as reservations. The central question is, did the United States have a right to an unmapped land that WAS populated by indigenous people, or was this (and manifest destiny) American imperialism?America is my home, though I am now living in Israel. I love my country and it's constitution. However, I have always gone beyond the idea that the government had the power to purchase Louisiana. I see it as colonialism and the idea of some of a continent wide nation without regard to the constitution or the people who we displaced in the process.I am not suggesting that we give it back or even reparations. Just that we know our history.

  • very nice.

  • Sub to me..

  • I'm here cuz of my teacher

  • The ten dollar founding father without a father…

  • Every politician is principled until they get in office.

  • Jefferson and Hamilton hate each other, I read a biography of George Washington

  • She legit just summarized 3 weeks of my Social Studies class in about 4 minutes.

  • Pls take it back 🙂 anyone triggered yet?

  • Perfect for me h.w

  • thomas jefferson was a lowkey cunt

  • Why did Napoleon go from negotiating with the U.S. to sell a piece of the Louisiana territory for $2 million to selling the whole thing for $15 million?!!…the Haitian Revolution. This successful slave revolt in Haiti caused him to sell all of the Louisiana land, and the U.S. benefited from it. Let's tell the whole story.

  • How was the Louisiana Purchase the greatest irony of Thomas Jefferson's presidency?

  • "The greatest trade deal in the history of the United States."-Donald Trump

  • Haiti was the richest slave colony, overthrew their slave Masters and became free. Jan 1.1804. Haiti ended Napoleon's dreams of an empire on the western hemisphere so he sold the territory to U.S. [that's the real story]

  • cool story bruh

  • this video just confused me even more

  • 0:52 "Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton…"
    Me: YEAH!!!

    Sorry, I got a little excited there. The damn musical is ruining my life.

  • I just love all of the negativity about the Louisiana Purchase. If you live in any part of the land that was encompassed in this, then you should move away immediately. You should have to forfeit all of your property and any financial gain you may have made while living there. You cannot measure historical events by modern concepts and ideas.

  • its not often im impressed but this video really would make anyone think but do viewers know there's missing part of the law of attraction? students all over the world are achieving their dreams because they found the missing secret? I found out about this missing secret and manifest abundance, wealth, health, love and more from a resource called Magic attract tactic.

  • Im here to get ideas for a political cartoon

  • 3:00 that isn't a contradiction from Jefferson in that specific point. Big government, as you said earlier, refers to a lack of limitations on the national government with very little power for state and local governments. Increasing the size of the country doesn't mean its big government. In that phrase, big means powerful rather than physical size.
    Pretty flawed analysis

  • Your point is somewhat invalid. The Constitution does give the President and the Senate jurisdiction over Treaties, which a large scale land purchase from another nation is reasonably considered as such since the deifinition of treaty is that of "a formally concluded and ratified agreement between countries", To compare this to the constitutionally compromising origins of the First Bank of the US is just ludicrous. Treaty jurisdiction is explicitly stated in the constitution, whereas there was no mention of a central bank or centralized monetary system other than precious metals in the constitution.

  • Esketit

  • Until his Boyfriend told him about the bill of rights.

  • Only here for my history homework…

  • It wasn't France's land to buy. WTF.

  • Anyone else here because of there teacher?


  • mumbo jumbo.

  • very good

  • So in comes SCOTUS to interpret the founding document. Power to the president to fill SCOTUS with as many justices as possible, who interpret the constitution, as he does (a lot of power for the executive). The growing pains of a young constitutional "republic" / (a smidge) socialist / democracy…

  • Expanding the size of the country and expanding the power of the government over the people are two very different concepts. The threat of “big government” applies to the federal government possessing too much power that threatens the private lives of its citizens. Jefferson did not make a “big government” play, in doing this, he did nothing to increase the federal governments privileges or abilities over that of the state and local governments. Also, purchasing land can be much easier defended by the Constitution rather than the institution of a national bank. Schools are funded and are provided curriculum by the government, therefore they naturally support them in their teaching methods. My middle school U.S. history teacher and my current AP U.S. history teacher (both belonging to the left) exaggerated the point made in this video, claiming that this proved that a larger national government would be the solution to the country’s problems, and the most effective way to govern a country. However, as I’ve already stated, increasing federal power over citizens and domestic matters and allowing the growth of the country do not relate to one another. History should be taught from a neutral perspective, and students should be properly educated over multiple viewpoints towards an event so that they can form their own ideas and political stance. They should not be spoon fed reasonings from only one side of the political spectrum (right or left) and taught to believe in only one understanding of history as it relates to politics.

  • Video: "Alexander Hamilton"
    Me: recites entire musical Oops, my bad, must have had something caught in my throat

  • briarcrest sub to me

  • 3 mins on this subject is kind of insulting.

  • Jerkass Jefferson ate his words. Hamilton was right. I wish Hamilton lived to see this.

  • Dear Ted-Ed,

    At 2:22 you misrepresented the nation by claiming there were only 13 states at the time of the Louisiana Purchase. By 1803, Vermont, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio were added to the Union, making them the 14th, 15th, 16th, and 17th states. Furthermore, the map is misleading because you did not mention the Indiana territories and Mississippi territories owned by the United States but included them in your visual. While the Louisiana Purchase did roughly double the size of the United States, the right half of your map should be titled "The First 17 States and Territories" instead of "Original 13 States."

    Welcome to my TED-Talks.

  • i like big juicy chunky tomatoes

  • Imagine if it remained French territory.

  • So–you make GW and TJ the historical Scapegoats for the narcissistic foockery of the Zionist bankers…, de-nationalize and genocide the Indian nations living in the territories for thousands…., and turn the rest of them in to perpetual slaves through schools named after GW and TJ… How very Pressian of you…

  • Whoes Joe

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