I published my first book in 2013. It was titled The World Upside Down. It consisted of a compilation of blogs I had written in the several years before. Those that I thought were of special interest.
Thomas Jefferson’s genius has always been given credit for the purchase and cheap price at which it was purchased of the Louisiana Territory. Historically incorrect. Jefferson favored the purchase because it would double the size of the United States. The availability for sale and cheap cheap purchase price were an accident of fate. Mosquitoes were the reason it sold so cheaply.
The chapter in The World Upside Down follows.
MOSQUITOES FORCE SALE OF LOUISIANA TERRITORY
Historically mosquitoes have impacted man and his decisions.
We who live in Key West are familiar with the mosquito problem. Was it not for local laws creating a Mosquito Control Board a number of years ago, Key West would not have developed as it did. Discomfort and disease would have run rampant.
The local Mosquito Control Board is funded with tax dollars. It sprays by air and land. Planes and trucks are utilized. Property inspections are also made of all properties on a periodic basis. The purpose is to determine whether pools of water exist where mosquito eggs might breed.
The local Mosquito Control Board runs from Key West to just short of Sugarloaf.
Several months ago a newspaper article appeared claiming there were 1,000 cases of dengue fever in the lower keys. A reporting error. The writer had not properly researched the article before writing it. There were only 5 cases.
Dengue fever and yellow fever are the worst of the illnesses that mosquitoes can spread.
This brings us back to the time of Napoleon Bonaparte. It was 1802. France had huge land holdings in North America.
He sent an army to New Orleans to open the port for additional shipping and French colonization. New Orleans and Louisiana were part of France’s holdings at the time. The army was under the command of Napoleon’s brother in law, General Leclerc.
Napoleon told his brother in law to stop first in Haiti, which France also owned. A slave rebellion was proving bothersome to Napoleon. He instructed General Leclerc to put down the Haitian rebellion and then go onto New Orleans.
The French Army was powerful. Too powerful for the Haitians. The rebellion was put down in quick order.
However, the French lost 70,000 troops. They died. Including his brother in law, General Leclerc.
The cause was yellow fever. Brought on by the mosquitoes in Haiti.
Napoleon’s orders were swift. Get out of Haiti! Forget about New Orleans! Return home immediately!
Napoleon decided he wanted nothing to do with the new world. He entered into negotiations with the United States to sell the new country the Louisiana Territory.
The price was a clear indication of how desperate Napoleon was to remove France from the new world. Three cents an acre! Eight hundred twenty eight thousand acres for $15 million!
All because of those pesky mosquitoes!
My motivation in sharing the mosquitoes background to the Louisiana Purchase today is the recent news that dengue fever cases had occurred in Florida and Texas. The number few. Four in Florida and one in Texas. The Florida four were not in Monroe County.
Enjoy your day!