On April 30, 1803, Thomas Jefferson made a treaty with Napoleon of France called the Louisiana Purchase. The purchase included the acquirement of the New Orleans area and 828,000 square miles of land west of the Mississippi River. Jefferson bought this land from France for $15 million dollars, with each acre costing about three cents. The Louisiana Purchase was one of Jefferson’s greatest accomplishments because it more than doubled the size of the United States.
The land France sold the United States consisted of an unincorporated wilderness containing tens of thousands of Indian, white, and black inhabitants. “Jefferson perceived that that the vast domain now within his reach could form a sprawling ‘empire of liberty’ that would ensure the health and life of America’s experiments in democracy” (154). Land- hungry Americans gave Jefferson enthusiastic public support for the Louisiana Purchase, which contained the richest river valley in the world. The Louisiana Purchase stretched from the Mississippi River to the beginning of the Rocky Mountains. Present states that were included in the purchase were Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming.
In order to learn about the newly acquired land, Jefferson sent out Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on explorations. During their two and a half year explorations, Lewis and Clark traveled over the Rockies; crossed the Columbia River; and made their way to the Pacific Coast. With the aid from a Shoshone Indian named Sacajawea, they were able communicate with other Indians. Through their explorations, they gained much knowledge about the newly obtained land and strengthened American claims to Oregon.
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