The purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France in October 1803 doubled the size of the United States and foreshadowed its emergence as a global power. The purchase marked an unprecedented use of executive power by President Thomas Jefferson and evoked strong resistance from Federalists. In this lesson, a timeline of the purchase along with letters by Federalist leaders help students decide whether practical concerns or political agendas motivated the opposition.

Image: Map of Louisiana Purchase made by Samuel Lewis in 1805. From the Library of Congress.


This is an excellent modification.
I added the below writing prompt as a final assessment for this lesson: Directions: Please respond in writing to the following prompt: “Did Federalists oppose the Louisiana Purchase for practical or political reasons? In other words, did the Federalists have real concerns over the purchase of the Louisiana Territory or did they just hate Jefferson?” Must include: 1. Background on the Louisiana Purchase (what was it, who bought it, why?) 2. Make a claim statement: ex. “The Federalists had valid concerns over the Louisiana Purchase” or “The Federalists only opposed Jefferson’s decision over the Louisiana Purchase because they did not like him.” 3. Include three pieces of textual evidence to support your claim. The evidence must come from Doc. A and Doc. B (at least one from each). 4. You must “interact” with the quotes (explain and further develop the ideas- don’t just state the evidence and leave it.) 5. At least three paragraphs- one intro and two evidence.
I teach at an urban middle school in Los Angeles. I was hesitant to teach this lesson, but it worked out great. My students even wrote an essay that introduced a claim and had it supported with evidence from the texts. Thank you!
Seems like a great and fun way to get students to source and contextualize primary sources!
What I really like about this lesson plan is that it goes against what one would automatically think (that everyone would be happy with the LA purchase.) I have done this lesson before, but this year I made the mistake of sending it home for homework-- it is much more powerful the way it was designed, so I recommend following the plans as written. My students understood the point about the Anti-federalist/Federalist sentiments, but the lesson as a whole just didn´t seem as powerful as when I had done it in the past with a whole group as a shared experience. Teacher´s Lesson Learned: Follow the Directions!!
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