On April 11, 1803, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand, the Foreign Minister of France, offered to sell all of the Louisiana Territory to the United States.
The price of the land that is often quoted is $15 million dollars; however, it was actually only $11.25 million in cash, while the other $3.75 million was forgiveness of French debt. Even for the low price of three cents-per-acre, the US was unable to pay the full amount up front. The transaction had to be handled by two European banks. Including interest, the total cost of the Louisiana Purchase was over $23 million.
Thomas Jefferson, leader of the Democratic-Republican party, was president at the time of the purchase. Although he was a strict constructionist, Jefferson authorized the negotiations despite there being no language in the Constitution allowing the government to make such a transaction. Despite being opposed by the loose-construction Federalist party, the treaty was ratified, doubling the size of the United States.
Written by Ryan Troutman
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