- I can practice roleplaying to understand the importance of prudence in a leader.
You are the leader of a new nation. You were recently elected under a promise to ensure that the government would limit its power.
A sudden offer to expand your territory comes to your desk. You must accept or deny the offer within 24 hours and none of your closest advisors can be reached to help you come to a decision. The decision is yours alone and you must act quickly.
Things to consider
- There are no clear guidelines on the legality of this offer.
- You were elected to your current position under a promise of limiting the government’s power.
- You are unsure how your decision will be received by your advisors and the public.
- You are unsure of what people, goods, crops, territory, make up this territory you have been offered.
- This is a once-in-a-lifetime offer to greatly expand your territory.
My Decision (write your decision below)
My Rationale (Explain why you made the previous decision)
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Thomas Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase
President Thomas Jefferson, elected at the end of the Quasi-War with France, faced domestic unease when Spain returned Louisiana to France at Napoleon’s insistence. Aware of the strategic importance of New Orleans and wary of Napoleon’s desire to build an empire in North America, Jefferson sent negotiators to France to purchase land east of the Mississippi. As time went on, though, France had other priorities and in the spring of 1803 offered the United States the whole Louisiana territory—more than 800,000 acres—for $15 million. Jefferson had always feared the costs of loose construction of the powers delegated to the national government in the Constitution, and the Constitution did not provide for the incorporation of news lands into the US. Jefferson urged bringing the issue to the people to approve with a constitutional amendment, but a special session of Congress disregarded his draft amendment. The Senate ratified the Louisiana Purchase Treaty in October of 1803. While Jefferson did his best to follow what he believed was proper constitutional procedure, not enough of his contemporaries agreed with him and he eventually assented.