Louisiana Purchase

What was the Purchase of Louisiana?

The Purchase of Louisiana was the purchase of a large portion of land called the ‘Louisiana Territory’. It took place in 1803 and American government was the one who bought this land. In 1803, the American government paid a modest amount of $15 million for this entire territory.

Today, this would be approximately equal to $284 million. Thomas Jefferson was the American President when the deal was concluded and he was actively involved in the whole process, making the Louisiana Territory one of the most important achievements of his Presidency.

What was the size of the Louisiana Territory?

The size of the Louisiana Territory was so large that it is almost 1/3rd of the total size of America today. And today, the Louisiana Territory includes nearly 15 American states.

The total size of the Louisiana Territory was 828,000 square miles, ranging from Rocky Mountains in the West to the Canadian border in the north and from the Mississippi River in the east to the Gulf of Mexico in the south. In all, this constituted a huge parcel of land.

Before this time, America was composed of the 17 states and all of these were located along the eastern strip of North America. With this purchase, the size of American was immediately doubled and it became possible for Americans to move westwards and settle there.

Who sold it?

The French did. The French were the first in the early 17th century to reach the Mississippi River Valley and establish settlements there. Slowly, French settlements grew in size and number. This was a time when the British colonies were being established along the eastern coastline of North America.

So the British settled along the eastern coastline while the French settled in central North America. In 1754, France and Britain fought a war in North America. At the end of it, France was forced to give the Louisiana Territory to Spain.

In 1801, Spain returned the territory to France. By this time, American government was very much interested in buying it. So America and France began negotiations. France agreed to sell it for $15 million and the deal was sealed. The treaty was drafted on April 30 and signed by both sides on May 2.

Was it a good deal?

Nearly everyone agrees today that it was probably the greatest land deal in the history of America. That’s because by paying $15 million, which was much at the time but not that much, America was able to gain control of a huge portion of this land. You can imagine the extent of this land by the fact that today, 15 American states fit inside what was called the Louisiana Territory. So all in all, it was a brilliant deal.

How did America benefit from it?

The purchase brought a huge parcel of land under American control. By this time, population in the 17 American states was increasing rapidly and resources such as land was limited. So settlers and colonists started moving towards the west into the Louisiana Territory. Here, they could own more land and find new resources such as gold. Nine years after the purchase of Louisiana, in 1812, there were already enough Americans in Louisiana to give birth to the 18th American state called Louisiana.

Learn More about the Louisiana Purchase at Wikipedia