Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Wednesday's Today in History

Louisiana Purchase 1803

The Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition by the United States of more than 529,911,681 acres of territory from France in 1803, at the cost of about 3 cents per acre; $15 million or $80 million francs in total. If adjusted for the relative share of GDP, this amount would equal approximately $390 billion 2003,* or about $1800 per hectare.

The French territory of Louisiana included far more land than just the current U.S. state of Louisiana. The lands purchased contained parts or all of present-day Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota west of the Mississippi River, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, northern Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, the portions of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado east of the Rocky Mountains, the portions of southern Manitoba, southern Saskatchewan and southern Alberta that drain into the Missouri River, and Louisiana on both sides of the Mississippi River including the city of New Orleans.

The land included in the Purchase comprises 22.3% of the territory of the modern United States.** The purchase was an important moment in the presidency of Thomas Jefferson. At the time, it faced domestic opposition as being possible unconstitutional.

*The relative value in U.S. dollars - Economic History Services

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