Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Louisiana Purchase

ON DECEMBER 20th, 1803, THE UNITED STATES took possesion of the lower Louisiana territory, in a ceremony in the Sala Capitular of the Cabildo in New Orleans, Louisiana. Three months later, the nothern Louisiana territory was transfered in a ceremony in Saint Louis. This action doubled the size of the United States.

Initially, the U.S. just wanted to secure the right to ship goods down the Mississippi River through the Spanish-controlled port of New Orleans, which is near the Gulf of Mexico. But in April, 1803, Emperor Napolean of France made the surpise offer to sell all of the Louisiana territory. At this time, the U.S. controlled the eastern banks of the Mississippi River, and many U.S. nationals were living in the colonial territory to the west. It was a great deal, and President Thomas Jefferson made the purchase (although perhaps unconstitutionally).

The Louisiana territory had passed from French to Spanish control after the French and Indian War, but was returned to French ownership in 1800, although still under Spainish government administration.

Although the Purchase cost the United States 15 million dollars, Napolean only got $8,831,250; the rest was in payments to bankers and in settlement to those who had financial claims against France.

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