After an expensive revolution and the pricey wars that went with it, Emperor Napoleon of France was tired, frustrated, and just about ready to give up his dreams of a French empire in North America. All that land was too expensive and troublesome to defend, especially with the slaves in Saint-Domingue (Haiti) managing to rise up against their colonial masters.
An ocean away, the young and restless United States was looking to take on some new land of its own, and the French territory of Louisiana seemed like just the place to start.
In 1803, France's needs and the United States' needs came together in marvelous, magnificent harmony, and the result was the Louisiana Purchase. Negotiated by Americans Robert R. Livingston and James Monroe, and a Frenchman named François de Barbé-Marbois, this real estate deal—the biggest in the history of ever—totally changed the course of world events.
And we're not even exaggerating.
This purchase was such a big deal that it required not one, not two, but three documents to cover all of the deets. The first document is the actual treaty, and it contains all a person could ever want to know about how Louisiana was going to transition from the French to the Americans. The second doc is a cute little thing, barely a page long, and it's a convention (an agreement a little less binding than a treaty) that sets up the United States' payment terms for their sweet new property. The third doc, also a convention, deals with how France plans to pay Americans back for some shenanigans it had undertaken on the high seas a few years prior.
Basically, the United States ended up paying about $15 million for a piece of land that stretched from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and from the Mississippi River to the Rockies.
Everyone, get out a map.
Yup, just as we suspected: that is one…big…spread.
And at $15 million, the whole enchilada ended up costing a little under 3 cents an acre. Four cents an acre, people. Considering the average price of one single house in the United States in early 2017 was nearly $400,000, that is a seriously smokin' deal.
Especially when we take into account that that one $15 mil deal ended up shutting down France's empire plans, obliterating Great Britain's ideas of global dominance, putting another nail in the coffin of Spain's Golden Age, and setting the stage for the United States to not only expand all the way to the Pacific Ocean but to become a serious international high roller.
Real estate investments always carry a little bit of risk (and come with a lot of detailed legalese), but this deal was just way too good for the United States to pass up.
If it wasn't for the Louisiana Purchase, the international world order would look completely different today than it does.
As much as the purchase was a windfall for America, it probably marked the beginning of the end for Native American tribes as the nation expanded westward.
The United States is about to double in size, thanks to a sweet real estate deal being offered up by the French Republic. All the land from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and from the Rockies to the mighty Mississippi River could belong to the Americans, for the cool price of $15 mil. This heck of a deal is known as the Louisiana Purchase, and these documents lay out all the t's to be crossed and the i's to be dotted so that the property can change hands.
Ever read a super long and rambling book or essay and wondered about the author's ultimate point?
Good news, folks: that won't happen with the Louisiana Purchase.
The treaty is actually three separate documents, each with its own clearly laid-out purpose. And each of those documents is broken into distinct articles that address specific topics:
No stone is left unturned; no topic is left unaddressed.
This thing is better organized than Sara Berman's closet.
And as readers of said purchase documents, we certainly appreciate it.
America scores a sweet, like-new French colony at a bargain basement price.