had the black population of santo domingo not rebelled against the french, costing napoleon's army more than 60,000 casualties, france would have most likely continued its efforts to regain its empire in north america and would have never agreed to sell the entire louisiana territory to the united states at the bargain price of $15 million.

that surprise acquisition also underscores the failure of the revolutionary generation "to recognize the opportunity presented by the louisiana purchase to revisit the native american question so as to avoid removal," mr. ellis writes, and its "unwillingness to use this extraordinary occasion to promote the possibility of prohibiting the expansion of slavery into the louisiana territory."

instead, he goes on, the louisiana purchase sealed the doom of indians east of the mississippi, providing a place where eastern tribes could be relocated, and jefferon's failure to prohibit slavery there, presumably out of fear that doing so might lead to a civil war, ended what mr. ellis calls "the last realistic opportunity for the united states to implement a policy of gradual emancipation."

nyt, michiko kakutani's revw: joseph j ellis / american creation: triumphs and tragedies at the founding of the republic, 2007