The History of the Louisiana Purchase
The following is a series of events that followed the acquisition of the Louisiana territory by the United States.
The Reacquisition of the Louisiana Territory from Spain
The Louisiana purchase refers to the acquisition of the territory of Louisiana by the United States from France in 1803. France had controlled the territory of Louisiana from 1699 up until 1762, when they surrendered the territory to Spain. In 1800, Napoleon regained ownership of Louisiana as part of a broader plan to re-establish a French colonialism empire in North America. However, France’s failure to suppress a revolt in Saint Domingue and the prospect of renewed warfare with the United Kingdom led Napoleon to consider selling Louisiana to the United States.
The Acquisition of Louisiana by the United States
It has been a long-term dream of Thomas Jefferson to acquire Louisiana from the French since he was eager to gain control of the banks of the Mississippi River and the port city of New Orleans, which connected the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. Thomas Jefferson tasked Robert R Livingston and James Monroe with purchasing New Orleans. The two negotiated with the then French Treasury Minister, François Barbé-Marbois, who was acting on Napoleon’s behalf. The American representatives agreed to purchase the entire Louisiana territory immediately after the French minister offered the territory.
The purchase included land from 15 present U.S states and two Canadian provinces. The Louisiana purchase states included the entirety of Iowa, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Nebraska, large areas of North Dakota and South Dakota, areas of Wyoming, Montana, and Colorado east of the continental divide, a portion of Minnesota, west of the Mississippi River, the northern portions of Texas, the northeastern part of New Mexico, New Orleans and areas of the present-day state of Louisiana west of the Mississippi River and small portions of the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.
To counter opposition from the Federalist Party, Thomas Jefferson and the then Secretary of State, James Madison, convinced Congress to ratify the amendment and fund the Louisiana purchase. The United States acquired approximately 828 square miles for 15 million dollars or approximately 18 dollars per square mile. The American government paid three million worth of gold as a down payment and issued bonds for the balance to pay France.
The Boundary Dispute With Spain
Shortly after the purchase, a dispute arose between Spain and the United States regarding the extent of the Louisiana territory. The countries had not defined the boundaries in the 1762 treaty that saw France surrender the territory to Spain nor in the 1801 treaty that saw Spain cede the territory back to France, nor in the 1803 Louisiana Purchase agreement selling the territory to the United States.
The United States claimed that Louisiana included the entire Western area of the Mississippi River basin to the Rocky Mountains and land extending to the Rio Grande and West Florida. On the other hand, Spain insisted that the territory comprised no more than the western banks of the Mississippi River and the cities of New Orleans and St. Louis. The two countries solved the dispute in 1819, with the United States gaining most of the territory. The Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of the United States.