What is the Louisiana Purchase?
France, from 1789-1799 was in turmoil during a bloody and chaotic revolution. With the rise of Napolean to power, however, things seemed to level out… except for war debts, which he continued to accrue with battling the British and anyone else who got in the way of him expanding France’s global power!
Meanwhile, in America, Thomas Jefferson was elected president in 1801 and had always been a proponent of what would become known as Manifest Destiny. [MD = the belief that American territory would rightfully and inevitably span from the Atlantic to Pacific.] But that meant acquiring millions of square miles of territory, so he began to press France to sell. He specifically wanted the port city of New Orleans, because it was at the mouth of the Great Mississippi River, which was used for trading by virtually everyone ever.
Now, at first, France rejected the offers, but as Napoleon began hurting for money more and more, he seriously considered it. Finally, in 1803, President Jefferson sent future president James Monroe to negotiate with the French. This ended up working quite well, as not only did the Napoleon finally agree to sell New Orleans, but tossed the entirety of the French territory into the offer for only $5 million dollars more, creating a grand total $15 million dollars.
Needless to say, this was a steal at only 3 cents an acre. At around 826,000 square miles, it essentially doubled the size of American territory! This area was full of fertile soil, grazing lands, and much more. It would make up parts of 15 states, including: Louisiana, which became a state in 1812, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Minnesota, and Montana.
Of course, all of the land, which spanned from the Mississippi to the Rockies was inhabited by Native Americans, much to the chagrin of American leaders, but more on that in another video.
Until then, happy studying.