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But, by 1802, Napoleon’s scheme soon collapsed. Thus, the official transfer of Louisiana from Spanish to French control did not take place. © Milliken Publishing Company However, Jefferson’s fears did come true when the Spanish closed the port of New Orleans to American traffic in October 1802. Jefferson attempted to move quickly. He dispatched James Monroe to France to join Livingston in offering to buy New Orleans and western Florida for $10 million. ) When Monroe arrived, he and Livingston were surprised to find the French not only agreeable to the suggestion of America acquiring control of New Orleans and West Florida, but they were willing to offer the entire region of Louisiana to the Americans—for a price.

This movement of Americans knew no bounds during the years just prior to, and just after 1800. Americans were restless, seeking greater opportunities over the next horizon. Throughout the Atlantic Coast states, approximately one in three rural families had moved between the 1790 and 1800 censuses. Many such moves were simply lateral, involving a short distance between rural communities or towns. To facilitate these migrations, the western settlers used the various rivers of the region to move their families, household truck, and livestock by flatboat to greener pastures.

Another act passed by the Confederation Congress was the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. The act allowed the eventual creation of no more then five and no fewer than three states to be carved out of the region. It also recognized the rights of Americans living there, making them identical to the rights enjoyed by citizens in the original 13 states. Slavery was prohibited in the region. In terms of governance, once the free white male residents of a territory reached 5000, they could establish a territorial assembly, but the territorial governor would have veto power over all legislation.

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