Just as earlier administrations had struggled with defining and defending the borders granted to the US by the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Revolutionary War, Jefferson found himself faced with the prospect of defining the new borders of the nation granted to the US by the Louisiana Purchase. He found that he would not get much cooperation from foreign nations in this area. Spain, though weakened in North America during the preceding decade, was prepared to hold on to West Florida with all of its might due to the land's value as a pathway to the Gulf of Mexico. James Monroe and Robert Livingston had reported that the French foreign minister seemed to be in favor of, or at least indifferent to, the United States annexing West Florida. As it turned out, the French saw West Florida as an opportunity to stir up trouble between Spain and the US. After encouraging the United States to claim West Florida as its own, Chales de Tallyrand proceeded to encourage Spain to retaliate militarily against claims to West Florida made by the US. Thus the United States had been used as a pawn to enable Napoleon to directly influence events in North America though France did not control as much land there as it once had.

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