On April 30, 1803 the nation of France sold 828,000 square miles of land west of the Mississippi River to the young United States of America in a treaty commonly known as the Louisiana Purchase. President Thomas Jefferson, in one of his greatest achievements, more than doubled the size of the United States at a time when the young nation's population growth was beginning to quicken. The Louisiana Purchase was an incredible deal for the United States, the final cost totaling less than five cents per acre at $15 million. France's land was mainly unexplored wilderness, and so the fertile soils and other valuable natural resources we know are present today might not have been factored in the relatively low cost at the time. The Louisiana Purchase stretched from the Mississippi River to the beginning of the Rocky Mountains. Official boundaries were not determined, except that the eastern border ran from the source of the Mississippi River north to 31 degrees north. Present states that were included in part or whole of the Louisiana Purchase were: Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming. As the Mississippi River became the chief trading channel for goods shipped among the states it bordered, the American government became greatly interested in purchasing New Orleans, an important port city and mouth of the river. Beginning in 1801, and with little luck at first, Thomas Jefferson sent envoys to France to negotiate the small purchase they had in mind. France controlled the stretches of land west of the Mississippi River, known as Louisiana. France did not have a strong enough navy to maintain control of lands so far away from home, separated by the Atlantic Ocean. Napoleon wanted to consolidate his resources so that he could focus on conquering England. Believing he lacked the troops and materials to wage an effective war, the French general wished...
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