Louisiana Purchase

1803 acquisition by the U.S. of France's claim to the territory of Louisiana

The Louisiana Purchase was a land purchase made by President Thomas Jefferson in 1803. He bought the Louisiana territory from France, which was being led by Napoleon Bonaparte at the time, for 15,000,000 USD (about $320,000,000 in 2020 dollars). First, the men sent to France were allowed to spend up to 10 million USD in order to buy New Orleans and, if possible, the west bank of the Mississippi River. But then the French government said that for 5 million more dollars they would sell all of the Louisiana territory. Thomas Jefferson approved the deal and used his constitutional power to sign treaties to buy the land. The constitution does not say the president has the power to buy land from other countries, but he had the power to make treaties, so that is what he used.

Territories gained by the U.S. The nation before the Louisiana Purchase is shown in brown. The Louisiana Territory is shown in white with black dots. Dots are shown where another country said they owned part of the land that France sold.

Napoleon Bonaparte sold the land because he needed money for the Great French War. The British had re-entered the war and France was losing the Haitian Revolution and could not defend Louisiana. Thomas Jefferson took the French offer as an opportunity to make America larger, even if it meant going against his Republican principles of small government (some would say he exceeded his constitutional power by accepting the deal on his own).

A map of the Louisiana Purchase compared to state boundaries in 2008. The Louisiana Purchase is shown in green overtop of what states would be formed from it.

The purchase added 828,394 square miles and doubled the size of the U.S.. This included all of the modern states of Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, and part of the states of Louisiana, Texas, Minnesota, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota. It also included a small piece of land that is now part of Canada.

The Louisiana Purchase gave the U.S. control of the Mississippi River and the port city of New Orleans, both of which were used by farmers to ship their crops and get paid. It also ensured that France and other European countries would not try to take the land. France only controlled small bits of the territory. Because of that, the United States had to make other agreements with and payments to other governments and groups. The total amount paid for the Louisiana Purchase and all of these other agreements was about 2.6 billion USD.

The Lewis and Clark expedition explored the Louisiana Purchase and the Oregon Territory. They started from St. Louis. Their route traced the Missouri River.



Other websites