When Thomas Jefferson became president, one of his top priorities was to purchase the port of New Orleans, located at the mouth of the Mississippi River on the Gulf of Mexico. He wanted to own this land so that American farmers could easily transport their goods to market via the river. So, he decided to make Napoleon an offer: $2 million. Even though Napoleon was in need of money to prepare for a war against Great Britain, he respectfully declined. Jefferson made another offer for the land, but this time for $10 million. Not only did Napoleon accept the offer, but he threw in the rest of the Louisiana Territory for an additional $5 million!
Fifteen million dollars is a lot of money (it’s approximately $300 million in today’s money), but not for the amount of land Jefferson received. The territory was approximately 828,000 square miles, nearly doubling the size of the United States!
Here are some interesting fun facts about the Louisiana Purchase:
- France had just made an agreement with Spain to purchase the territory.
- Napoleon’s brothers made several arguments against making a deal with the United States, including the fact that the territory was technically still Spain’s since Napoleon had yet to perform his part of the agreement.
- Many Americans opposed the purchase mainly because the United States did not have the money and didn’t really need the extra land.
- The United States had to borrow money from two European banks to pay for the territory and the loan was not paid off until 1823.