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BiCentennial Celebration

of the

Louisiana Purchase


The Territory of Louisiana

[Territory of Arkansas & Missouri]

Washington, D.C. (Feb. 16) – Sen. Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.) introduced legislation to establish a National Commission on the Bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase to organize programs and events to mark the 200th anniversary of the largest peaceful land transaction in history.

All of the states of Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Iowa were in the territory and parts of Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Mississippi Alabama, Kansas, and Minnesota were in the land purchase.

This Bicentennial Celebration will interact with the Bicentennial Celebration of Lewis and Clark Expodition

In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson asks Congress for an appropriation to send an expedition up the Missouri River and on to the Pacific, in order to discover whether a Northwest Passage or water route across the continent exists and to lay the groundwork for extending American fur trade into the region. None of this territory is part of the United States when Jefferson makes his request in January, but even then he is negotiating secretly through James Monroe to purchase the whole vast region from France.


1812 Flag

March 9th, 1804, there were formal ceremonies in St. Louis to "mark" the transfer of power. The ceremony took place in front of the "Government House", which was the Spanish headquarters.

Spanish Flag

During that ceremony formal documents were signed. Transfer was made from Spain to France, then from France to the United States.
As a gesture of goodwill to the mainly French population of St. Louis, the French flag was allowed to fly over the city for one night.



1790 Map


**On Apr. 11, 1803, the French foreign minister Charles Maurice de Talleyrand opened negotiations by asking the surprised Livingston [ Robert R. Livingston-American Minister to France] what the United States would give for all of Louisiana. Bargaining began in earnest the next day, on Monroe's arrival in Paris. On Apr. 29, the U.S. envoys agreed to pay a total of $15 million to France; about $3,750,000 of this sum covered claims of U.S. citizens against France, which the U.S. government agreed to discharge. The treaty, dated Apr. 30,1803, was signed several days later."

**"The huge province of Louisiana was originally settled by the French in the early 18th century, but in 1762 it was ceded to Spain by a secret treaty.

In 1763, at the end of the Seven Years' War, the area east of the Mississippi, with the exception of New Orleans, was lost to Britain. In 1800, by another secret treaty (forced by French Emperor Napoleon I), Spain returned Louisiana to France. In 1802 two acts were committed that President Thomas Jefferson regarded as hostile to the interests of the U.S. French forces were sent to New Orleans and to Santo Domingo, Hispaniola (now the Dominican Republic), to quell a rebellion there, and the right of deposit, the privilege previously accorded U.S. merchants of depositing goods duty-free at New Orleans pending transshipment, was withdrawn. Jefferson thereupon sent the American statesman James Monroe to Paris to aid the American minister to France, Robert R. Livingston, in an attempt to effect one of four possible plans advantageous to the U.S.: (1) the purchase of eastern and western Florida and New Orleans; (2) the purchase of New Orleans alone; (3) the purchase of land on the eastern bank of the Mississippi River to build an American port; or (4) the acquisition of perpetual rights of navigation and deposit.

The previous negotiations between Livingston and Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, the French minister of foreign affairs, had been unsuccessful. Subsequently the international situation worsened for France. The French army in Santo Domingo was destroyed by yellow fever and the revolutionists, and a war with England appeared inevitable, threatening occupation of Louisiana by the British. Napoleon, deciding to make the best of an awkward position, gave Talleyrand new instructions, and on April 11, 1803, the foreign minister astonished Monroe and Livingston by offering to sell them all Louisiana or nothing at all. Although operating beyond their authorized power, the American envoys agreed to buy the territory, and early in May the three documents (antedated to April 30) ceding Louisiana to the United States were signed. The price agreed on was $15 million, of which $11,250,000 was to be paid outright by the U.S. to France. The balance of $3,750,000 was to be paid by the U.S. to its citizens to satisfy their claims against France.

The Louisiana Purchase stands as the largest area of territory ever added to the U.S. at one time. "

"The Louisiana Purchase, extending from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mts. and from the Gulf of Mexico to British North America, doubled the national domain, increasing it c.828,000 sq mi (c.2,144,500 sq km). The final boundaries of the territory were not settled for many years , since the 1803 treaty did not set the limits of the region."

This map was downloaded from the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection of the University of Texas at Austin. This map is Territorial Growth 1810 from the U.S. National Atlas, 1970


Bi-Centennial Celebration Planned for 2004

Arkansas: "Celebrating the bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase has been in the planning stages at the Secretary of State’s office since 1996"

Arkansas Heritage | Little Rock | Louisiana Purchase Park |


The state of Arkansas has the original survey stake in the wetlands of eastern Arkansas. A marker was erected in 1926 to show this initial point from which all lands from the Louisiana Purchase were surveyed. The marker is located in the Louisiana Purchase Historic State Park at the junction of Lee, Monroe and Phillips counties, northwest of Marvell on State Highway 362. A 950-foot boardwalk provides access to the granite monument in the swamp’s interior.

This Point was used as the position of every official geographical benchmark from the mountains of Montana to the mouth of the Mississippi. It marks the intersection of the fifth principal meridian and the national baseline. The longitude of the fifth principal meridian is a little over 91 degrees west. The latitude of the national baseline is about 34 1/2 degrees north.



Missouri | St Louis | State Rep. Ike Skelton |

In 1803, for only $15 million – three cents an acre – all or part of 14 states were created out of the vast territory acquired in the Louisiana Purchase, virtually doubling the size of the United States.

All of the states of Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Iowa were in the territory and parts of Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Mississippi Alabama, Kansas, and Minnesota were in the land purchase.


Parts of the Original Purchase Treaty

"And whereas in pursuance of the Treaty and particularly of the third article the French Republic has an incontestible title to the domain and to the possession of the said Territory--The First Consul of the French Republic desiring to give to the United States a strong proof of his friendship doth hereby cede to the United States in the name of the French Republic for ever and in full Sovereignty the said territory with all its rights and appurtenances as fully and in the Same manner as they have been acquired by the French Republic in virtue of the above mentioned Treaty concluded with his Catholic Majesty.

Article II

In the cession made by the preceeding article are included the adjacent Islands belonging to Louisiana all public lots and Squares, vacant lands and all public buildings, fortifications, barracks and other edifices which are not private property.--The Archives, papers & documents relative to the domain and Sovereignty of Louisiana and its dependances will be left in the possession of the Commissaries of the United States, and copies will be afterwards given in due form to the Magistrates and Municipal officers of such of the said papers and documents as may be necessary to them.

Article III

The inhabitants of the ceded territory shall be incorporated in the Union of the United States and admitted as soon as possible according to the principles of the federal Constitution to the enjoyment of all these rights, advantages and immunities of citizens of the United States, and in the mean time they shall be maintained and protected in the free enjoyment of their liberty, property and the Religion which they profess.

The present treaty Shall be ratified in good and due form and the ratifications Shall be exchanged in the Space of Six months after the date of the Signature by the Ministers Plenipotentiary or Sooner if possible.

Article X

In faith whereof the respective Plenipotentiaries have Signed these articles in the French and English languages; declaring nevertheless that the present Treaty was originally agreed to in the French language; and have thereunto affixed their Seals.

Done at Paris the tenth day of Floreal in the eleventh year of the French Republic; and the 30th of April 1803.

Barbé Marbois [seal]

Rob. R. Livingston [seal]

Jas. Monroe [seal]


The Lousiana Purchase opened the doors for the

Lewis and Clark Expedition.

"The object of your mission is to explore the Missouri River, & such principal stream of it, as, by its course and communication with waters of the pacific ocean, whether the Columbia, Oregon, Colorado or any other River may offer the most direct & practicable water communication across this continent for the purposes of commerce".
Thomas Jefferson to Meriwether Lewis, June 20, 1803

Take a Journey with Lewis and Clark

Basically for school children

The land purchase was divided into two parts, on June 4, 1812, a portion of the Territory of Louisiana became the Territory of Missouri ; following this division, the first general assembly of the Territory of Missouri met on October 1 and the five original territorial counties were organized: Cape Girardeau, New Madrid, St. Charles, St. Louis, and Ste. Genevieve.The overall territorythat became Missouri was much much larger than present day Missouri. The area to the west and northwest of the state, which had been in the territory, was commonly known as the "Missouri Country" until May 30, 1854, and certain of the post offices in this area show a Missouri abbreviation in the postmark.


This page is presented for educational and informational purposes only:

Credits for information and images include, but not limited to :Encarta, Louisiana Purchase Historic State Park; Early America online, National Geographic online and others.