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Madison and the Louisiana Purchase

Lynne Cheney, author of “James Madison: A Life Reconsidered” in conversation with Walter Isaacson of the Aspen Institute .

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Video transcript

I'm Walter Isaacson of the Aspen in suit and i'm here with lynne cheney author of james madison a life reconsidered during Jefferson's term as president when Madison was Secretary of State they also acquire the Louisiana Purchase how does that come about and how do they determine whether its constitutional well they had not planned on it coming about they were negotiating to gain control of the mouth of the Mississippi River in New Orleans and to get the Florida's there was an east and west florida at this point so it was to everyone's utter astonishment when Napoleon offered the United States Louisiana for a really good price and it was an offer impossible to refuse I mean it was one of the most momentous events in American history and Madison saw absolutely nothing wrong with it a secretary of state because the Constitution did give the president the power to make treaties and it gave the government the power to admit new States Jefferson worried and worried it just sort of unlike him he wasn't worried why was he waited that he was usurping too much power yes and he just didn't see that it was constitutionally acceptable for him to do he said something like well if I do this what's tomorrow well I gained Holland Ireland to even asked about right now both you and that was a very interesting response because to Madison it was utterly clear and he finally convinced Jefferson and Jefferson was convinced as well by the fact that if he kept holding back Napoleon might take back the deal yeah in fact the time was of the essence to at a certain point did anybody in Congress object not as much as you would have thought the main objection came from New Englanders who were worried that this would result in the banishment of their power that somehow this would set the balance to the south and the west so they worried about it from that reason but not much objection on a constitutional ground thank you very much