30 April

Louisiana Sold to U.S.

One story that isn't well known is that Napoleon planned to recapture Canada for France. He made himself dictator of France in 1799, on the pretext of "saving the Revolution," but then went on to conquer most of Europe.

Napoleon's plan to recapture Canada was inspired by Sir Alexander Mackenzie, who in 1793 became the first man to cross the continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Mackenzie wrote a book about his trip which Napoleon had translated into French to help him plan his campaign.

His first step was to regain Louisiana. France had owned the Mississippi Valley all the way to the Gulf of Mexico but had handed over this territory to Spain before signing the Treaty of Paris in 1763 so that Britain would not acquire it.

In 1800, Napoleon regained Louisiana from Spain as part of the secret treaty of San Ildefonso. He planned to move his troops up the Mississippi from the Gulf of Mexico. In order to do this, he sent a large navy and army to recapture the former French colony of Haiti, which had been lost in a rebellion led by a mighty black warrior, Toussaint L'Ouverture. This was to be the base for the attack up the Mississippi, led by Napoleon's favourite general, Count Bernadotte. His campaign was defeated by the same elements that beat the Scotsmen who wanted to establish a colony in Panama and make it New Scotland. The natives and the mosquitoes were too fierce. They killed 60,000 French troops in two years!

In the meantime, the British fleet had moved powerful units to the West Indies, and Napoleon knew that it would be too risky to try to move an army to the mouth of the Mississippi. He abandoned the plan to recapture Canada, and sold Louisiana on April 30, 1803, to the United States for $27 million. The actual area included all the territory between the Mississippi and the Rocky Mountains. Spain still retained claims on the Pacific coast as far north as Oregon, which had an important bearing on the future development of British Columbia.


30 April

-1630    Charles La Tour and his son received 4,500 square miles of Nova Scotia from William Alexander.

-1658    The Ville Marie school, the first in Montreal, opened in a stable.

-1745    A force from New England under Sir William Pepperell began the siege of Louisburg.

-1835    Sir Francis Bond Head was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada.

-1852    A delegation from Canada and the Maritimes met with the Earl of Derby, Prime Minister of Britain, to discuss the possibility of building railways.

-1864    Chilcotin Indians massacred road builders in British Columbia.

              Prince Edward Island's Legislature authorized a delegation to discuss the proposed maritime union.

-1890    Lethbridge News reported a battle between Crees and Blackfoot Indians.

-1960    The centennial of the Queen's Own Rifles of Canada was celebrated.