The Louisiana Purchase was a treaty settled on April 30, 1803, where the United States bought the territory of Louisiana from France.

The United States bought 828,000 square miles for the price of fifteen million dollars, valuing each square mile as eighteen dollars. The purchase effectively doubled the size of the country.

The Louisiana Purchase has been described by politicians, historians, and scholars as one of the greatest real estate deals in history. The trade valued each square mile at an incredible eighteen dollars. 

An old map that shows the vast stretch of land that was the Louisiana Purchase
The new expanse of land doubled the size of the United States.

Timeline of Events

1600s and 1700s

France had settlements in the Mississippi River Valley as well as settlements in New Orleans, the Great Lakes, and Montana, France had more control over the United States than any other European country. 


France chose to cede Louisiana to Spain in order to save money and resources. This was known as the Treaty of Fontainebleau. 


Spain declared itself an ally to France, and so the British cut the country off from America. For this reason, Spain returned the Louisiana territory to France.

Napoleon intended to form a French colonial empire in America.

Around this time, Spain also revoked the deal that allowed Americans the use of New Orleans, which hindered the Americans' effort of westward expansion.


President Thomas Jefferson sent Robert Livingston and James Monroe to Paris to negotiate for the purchase of New Orleans. However, in April of 1803, the French asked whether the Americans would be interested in buying the whole of Louisiana instead.

Despite some political opposition, this was agreed upon and America took control of the Louisiana Territory. 


Louisiana became a state in the United States on April 30, 1812.

It was the 18th state to be admitted to the Union. As such It was also the first state to be created out of land carved up from the Louisiana Purchase. 

Why France Sold the Louisiana Territory

The main reasons were financial. France was under the leadership of Napoleon Bonaparte, and the French government needed funds to finance its military campaigns in Europe. Maintaining and governing a distant and expansive territory like Louisiana was expensive, and France was facing the escalating cost of wars.
In general, it was a time of political instability; France was also caught up in trying to quell the Haitian Revolution as well as dealing politically and diplomatically with Great Britain. Such action abroad frustrated French politicians and led to the desire for France to concentrate more on European an domestic issues.

An Enormous Purchase

The 828,000-mile piece of land that was purchased included portions of what is now sixteen states:

  1. Arkansas:
  2. Colorado: 
  3. Iowa:
  4. Kansas:
  5. Louisiana: 
  6. Minnesota: 
  7. Missouri: 
  8. Montana: 
  9. Nebraska: 
  10. North Dakota:
  11. New Mexico
  12. Oklahoma: 
  13. South Dakota: 
  14. Wyoming
  15. Texas
  16. Florida

After the Louisiana Purchase

  • With all restrictions effectively canceled, the United States was free to go forward with its westward expansion and exploration of new territories. 
  • The famous Lewis and Clark Expedition was commissioned: Explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were sent to explore the new Louisiana territory to see whether it was viable to have settlements there. 
  • Only nine years later Louisiana was accepted into The United States as the eighteenth addition. 

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