American Empire: Jefferson, Napoleon and the Louisiana Purchase

J. David Markham, USA

The Louisiana Purchase was the defining moment in the development of the United States as a world power. Only then did it truly seem likely that America would extend “from sea to shining sea.” But many Americans opposed that image of America and Congress had not appropriated money for the doubling in size of the new American nation.


The vision and will of two men, First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte of France and President Thomas Jefferson of the United States, closed the deal and created what would one day be the world’s most powerful nation. Napoleon and Jefferson had surprisingly similar reasons for this unprecedented land deal, the largest and most important in history.


This paper tells the story of the Louisiana Purchase, explaining the motives of both men, the process by which the deal was accomplished, and the implications of the deal to both the Americans and Europeans.


J. David Markham is President of the International Napoleonic Society and President Emeritus of the Napoleonic Historical Society. He has organized seven INS International Napoleonic Congresses in France, Italy, Poland, the Republic of Georgia, Israel and Canada.

Markham is an award-winning author who has written, edited or contributed to nine books on Napoleon, including Napoleon for Dummies (published in English, French, Russian and Dutch) and The Road to St Helena: Napoleon After Waterloo. He has contributed to six historical encyclopedias, including the upcoming Encyclopedia of Islamic Warfare.

Markham has appeared on numerous television documentary programs and co-hosts the acclaimed Napoleon 101podcast, now in its fourth year and 53 rd episode.