University of New Orleans has an excellent podcast on the Louisiana Purchase that covers the historical, military, diplomatic, and cultural aspects of Napoleon’s 1803 sale to Jefferson’s United States. It’s a great way to get a fresh perspective on American history, from the Great Lakes, down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. Instead of the inevitable push westwards from the Atlantic seaboard, it highlights the strong British, French, and Spanish presence in the center of the continent before the original thirteen colonies won their independence. It also highlights New Orleans’ role as the northernmost city of the Caribbean, often having much closer contact with Haiti, Cuba, and other Gulf countries than to areas to the north. The perspective here is somewhat like viewing European history from the point of view of the Byzantine empire. It’s eye-opening. Check it out.
Here’s the link to the podcast on iTunes U (need iTunes to load).