The United States Doubles in Size

The Flag raising ceremony in the Place d’Armes on Dec 20, 1803, celebrated Napoleon’s sale of Louisiana to the United States after 1803.  The United States bought from France the greater part of our country lying between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains. The area acquired contained nearly a million square miles. The cost of the purchase was $15,000,000.    

Napoleon regained Louisiana from Spain but the slave revolt in San Domingo and the prospect of war with England ruined his plans to develop Louisiana.  President Jefferson sent Monroe as commissioner to Paris to secure New Orleans and the Floridas and make clear the way to the sea. The instructions for Monroe and Livingston were limited to a strip of seacoast. Instead, Napoleon offered them the whole vast area of Louisiana.  The United States actually acquired Louisiana from France even before possession had formally passed to France from Spain.    

The United States had acquired a wilderness.  President Jefferson ordered Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to follow the rivers, map them, collect scientific data, and assess the resources gained throughout the Louisiana Purchase.  On the first United States expedition (1804–1806) to the Pacific Coast the men were to find a “direct & practicable water communication across this continent, for the purposes of commerce” (the Northwest Passage). Jefferson also wanted to compete with the British for control of land and the fur trade.   In whole or in part fourteen states and territories were formed from the area which was bought.

 Tomorrow, The Centennial Flag   Rita Bay

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