The Louisiana Purchase

By | Apr 30, 2010

President Thomas Jefferson was unsure whether the United States Constitution gave him the right to negotiate with a foreign government for the purchase of territorial rights in the area west of the 1803 United States. In fact he was under the impression that it didn’t, but he did understand the value of the Port of New Orleans and wish for it to be part of the United States.

The American negotiators, Robert Livingston and James Monroe were allowed to offer as much as $ 10 million dollars for New Orleans. France under the rule of Napoleon had at one time a plan to build a new French Empire in America, but with a defeat of his armies in present day Haiti and a possibility of war against Great Britain were in need for monetary resources. Livingston and Monroe were offered the entire region for $ 15 Million.

A treaty was signed on April 30, 1803 and the process began for what has become known as the Louisiana Purchase. The territory would double the size of the United States for a cost of less than 3 cents per acre. The total area was 529,911,680 acres with 523,446,400 acres of land and the rest water.

The ratification of the Louisiana Purchase treaty was by the Senate vote of 24 to 7 on October 20, 1803. On December 20, 1803 France formally turned New Orleans over to the United States at Cabildo, the seat of the colonial government in New Orleans. A ceremony at St Louis transferred the entire territory over to the United States.

Most of the territory was populated by Native Americans and in reality all that was accomplished with the treaty was the transfer of European territorial rights from France to the Unite States.

In the end the total paid to the French was $ 23,213,568. This figure included interest. The original cost was $ 11,2500,000 plus the cancellation of debts worth $ 3,750,000.


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