Robert Livingston and James Monroe closed on the sweetest real estate deal of the millennium when they signed the Louisiana Purchase Treaty in Paris on April 30, 1803. They were authorized to pay France up to $10 million for the port of New Orleans and the Floridas. When offered the entire territory of Louisiana—an area larger than Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal combined—the American negotiators swiftly agreed to a price of $15 million.
Although President Thomas Jefferson was a strict interpreter of the Constitution who wondered if the U.S. Government was authorized to acquire new territory, he was also a visionary who dreamed of an “empire for liberty” that would stretch across the entire continent. As Napoleon threatened to take back the offer, Jefferson squelched whatever doubts he had and prepared to occupy a land of unimaginable riches.
The Louisiana Purchase Agreement is made up of the Treaty of Cession and the two conventions regarding the financial aspects of the transaction.
As the United States spread across the Appalachians, the Mississippi River became increasingly important as a conduit for the produce of America's West (which at that time refered to the land between the Appalachians and the Mississippi). Since 1762, Spain had owned the territory of Louisiana, which included 828,000 square miles, and which now makes up all or part of fifteen separate states between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains. Friction between Spain and the…