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A Swallow Press Book

So Vast So Beautiful A Land
Louisiana and the Purchase

By Marshall Sprague

“Sprague does a splendid job of portraying scores of persons who greatly influenced the early years of ‘so vast, so beautiful a land.’ So much is told so well in prose that, even in its economy, glows richly with his excellent choice of descriptive words and his touches of wry humor.”

Ruth Van Ackeren, Nebraska History

“Sprague’s incisive commentary and lively prose make this volume a work of meticulous scholarship and eminent readability.”

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In 1803, the American minister to Paris, Robert Livingston, received a startling offer. For months, he had been trying to buy New Orleans and West Florida for the United States, with notably little success, and now suddenly Napoleon wanted to sell everything, the entire Louisiana territory, nearly a million square miles stretching from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, from the Mississippi to the Continental Divid. Amazed, America leaped at the opportunity, and in one stunning move not only doubled its national domain—but set itself irrevocably on a path to the Pacific, and to world power.

So Vast So Beautiful a Land is the remarkable story of how the early explorers discovered the Mississippi region and by what steps, through one hundred and twenty-one years, their rulers came to allow the infant United States to buy one of the richest territories on earth for fifteen million dollars. Marshall Sprague explores an epic saga of heroism, corruption, wilderness survival, visionary idealism, royal intrigue, greed, murder, and political chicanery. Probing the political, economic, and social factors that led to the Purchase, he skillfully traces the direct sources of France’s eventual disillusionment with its territory. Sprague’s incisive commentary and lively prose make this volume a work of meticulous scholarship and eminent readability.

Marshall Sprague, an Ohio native and long time Colorado Springs resident, wrote over 18 books on Colorado and western history. Among his many publications is Money Mountain: The Story of Cripple Creek Gold. He died in 1994.   More info →

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