April 30 – A Young U.S. More Than Doubles in Size

Posted on April 30, 2018

The huge chunk of land we call the Louisiana Purchase really "belonged to" the peoples who had lived there for centuries...those we sometimes call Indians or Native Americans...but of course various European powers claimed the 828,000 square miles (2.14 million square kilometers). 

France controlled the Louisiana territory through the first half of the 1700s. The territory was ceded to Spain in 1762, but regained by France in 1800. I guess that European powers kept trading land in the "New World" back and forth, depending on who won the most recent war. 

So, France "owned" the land and hoped to establish an empire in North America. But the late 1700s and early 1800s were a time of the Americas breaking free of Europe, becoming independent. And France was about to go to war with Britain (again!). And France needed money more than they needed all that land.

So Napoleon, First Consul of the French Republic, sold all that land to the new nation of the United States. Thomas Jefferson was then the president. 

The purchase agreement was signed on this date in 1803.

The land was eventually divvied up among the following states: Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, New Mexico, Texas, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and Louisiana. 

It was a good deal - the U.S. only had to pay about three cents per acre. The land is now worth about 100,000 times that amount!!!

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