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We will occupy the entire extent of America, the rich and fertile plains of Asia, together with the intermediate isles of the sea, in fulfillment of the great purpose of heaven, of the ultimate enlightenment of the whole earth, and the gradual elevation of man to the dignity and glory of the promised millennial day.

The United States was born out of a revolution against being a series of colonies. In one of the ironies of history less than 50 years after our founding we had not only begun the acquisition of colonies on the way to empire but had also elected our first rabidly pro-empire president – Andrew Jackson in 1828. As much as the Southern signers of the Declaration and the Southern authors of the Constitution might struggle to keep the states sovereign the empire builders and industrialists of the north would triumph and use Jefferson to purchase the land where Kansas and Missouri and even Nebraska would hold the dress rehearsal for the civil war.

A wilderness so immense : the Louisiana Purchase and the destiny of America    New York : A.A. Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 2003 Jon Kukla Louisiana Purchase Hardcover. 1st ed. x, 430 p. : ill., maps ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

The remarkable story of the land purchase that doubled the size of our young nation, set the stage for its expansion across the continent, and confronted Americans with new challenges of ethnic and religious diversity. In a saga that stretches from Paris and Madrid to Haiti, Virginia, New York, and New Orleans, Jon Kukla shows how rivalries over the Mississippi River and its vast watershed brought France, Spain, Great Britain, and the United States to the brink of war and shaped the destiny of the new American republic. We encounter American leaders – Jefferson and Jay, Monroe and Pickering among them – clashing over the opening of the West and its implications for sectional balance of power. We see these disagreements nearly derailing the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and spawning a series of separatist conspiracies long before the dispute over slavery in the territory set the stage for the Missouri Compromise and the Civil War.

Kukla makes it clear that as the French Revolution and Napoleon’s empire-building rocked the Atlantic community, Spain’s New World empire grew increasingly vulnerable to American and European rivals. Jefferson hoped to take Spain’s territories – piece by piece – while Napoleon schemed to reestablish a French colonial empire in the Caribbean and North America.

Interweaving the stories of ordinary settlers and imperial decision-makers, Kukla depicts a world of revolutionary intrigue that transformed a small and precarious nation into a world power – all without bloodshed and for about four cents an acre.


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