Study Guide

Louisiana Purchase Treaty Quotes

By Robert R. Livingston, James Monroe, and François de Barbé-Marbois

  • Friendship

    The President of the United States of America and the First Consul of the French Republic in the name of the French People desiring to remove all Source of misunderstanding relative to objects of discussion mentioned in the Second and fifth articles of the Convention of the 8th Vendémiaire an 9/30 September 1800 relative to the rights claimed by the United States in virtue of the Treaty concluded at Madrid the 27 of October 1795, between His Catholic Majesty & the Said United States, & willing to Strengthen the union and friendship which at the time of the Said Convention was happily reestablished between the two nations have respectively named their Plenipotentiaries to wit The President of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate of the Said States […]. (T.0)

    To make a long story short, it's time for these nations to set the record straight about past misunderstandings and solidify their BFF bond.

    […] 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. (T.1.3)

    Sometimes friends give each other food, flowers, or maybe a video game or something. But the friendship between France and the United States is so strong that it requires a really big display of affection. Some 828,000 acres for 3 cents apiece ought to do it.

    There Shall be Sent by the Government of France a Commissary to Louisiana to the end that he do every act necessary as well to receive from the Officers of his Catholic Majesty the Said country and its dependances in the name of the French Republic if it has not been already done as to transmit it in the name of the French Republic to the Commissary or agent of the United States. (T.4.1)

    Not only is France giving the United States a smokin' deal on Louisiana, but it's going to send some people over to make sure the deal gets done smoothly. Because that's what friends do.

    In future and for ever after the expiration of the twelve years, the Ships of France shall be treated upon the footing of the most favoured nations in the ports above mentioned. (T.8.1)

    For 12 years, France and Spain are going to get special treatment when it comes to doing biz in the United States. But even after 12 years, when Spain's special status comes to an end, France is still going to be America's special friend and will be treated as such.

    The President of the United States of America and the First Consul of the French Republic in the name of the French People having by a Treaty of this date terminated all difficulties relative to Louisiana, and established on a Solid foundation the friendship which unites the two nations and being desirous in complyance with the Second and fifth Articles of the Convention of the 8th Vendémiaire ninth year of the French Republic (30th September 1800) to Secure the payment of the Sums due by France to the citizens of the United States have respectively nominated as Plenipotentiaries that is to Say The President of the United States of America by and with the advise and consent of their Senate Robert R. Livingston Minister Plenipotentiary and James Monroe Minister Plenipotentiary and Envoy Extraordinary of the Said States near the Government of the French Republic: and the First Consul in the name of the French People the Citizen Francis Barbé-Marbois Minister of the public treasury; who after having exchanged their full powers have agreed to the following articles. (C2.0)

    Good fences make good neighbors…and a good squaring-up of debts makes good friends. The Louisiana Purchase convention docs were designed to make sure that unpaid debts and other money woes would never come between France and the United States.

  • Westward Expansion

    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. (T.1.3)

    Westward-bound? You betcha. The United States nearly doubled in size thanks to this sentence, and Thomas Jefferson's dreams of a free, independent, and geographically secure America began to seem more reachable than ever.

    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. (T.2.1)

    Wait—the United States gets the islands, too? And public lots and squares and buildings and stuff? Wow. So much room for activities.

    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. (T.3.1)

    Hold the phone—so not only does the United States get all that sweet land, it also gets a bunch of new citizens? Man, is this the deal of the century, or what? (Yes. The answer to that question is yes.)

    Immediately after the ratification of the present Treaty by the President of the United States and in case that of the first Consul's shall have been previously obtained, the commissary of the French Republic shall remit all military posts of New Orleans and other parts of the ceded territory to the Commissary or Commissaries named by the President to take possession—the troops whether of France or Spain who may be there shall cease to occupy any military post from the time of taking possession and shall be embarked as soon as possible in the course of three months after the ratification of this treaty. (T.5.1)

    When is newly acquired territory not really newly acquired territory? When the previous owners still have military troops and bases all over it. To that end, Article V of the treaty doc makes sure that French and Spanish troops will be packing up and heading out of Louisiana within three months of the purchase's ratification.

    As it is reciprocally advantageous to the commerce of France and the United States to encourage the communication of both nations for a limited time in the country ceded by the present treaty until general arrangements relative to commerce of both nations may be agreed on; it has been agreed between the contracting parties that the French Ships coming directly from France or any of her colonies loaded only with the produce and manufactures of France or her Said Colonies; and the Ships of Spain coming directly from Spain or any of her colonies loaded only with the produce or manufactures of Spain or her Colonies shall be admitted during the Space of twelve years in the Port of New-Orleans and in all other legal ports-of-entry within the ceded territory in the Same manner as the Ships of the United States coming directly from France or Spain or any of their Colonies without being Subject to any other or greater duty on merchandize or other or greater tonnage than that paid by the citizens of the United States. (T.7.1)

    Just because the Louisiana Territory now belongs to the United States, it doesn't mean no one else can use it. In fact, as a big TY for helping the United States stretch its borders and embrace its whole Manifest Destiny thing, France and Spain get to use the port of New Orleans like it's still their own for the next 12 years.

  • Rules and Order

    The particular Convention Signed this day by the respective Ministers, having for its object to provide for the payment of debts due to the Citizens of the United States by the French Republic prior to the 30th Sept. 1800 (8th Vendémiaire an 9) is approved and to have its execution in the Same manner as if it had been inserted in this present treaty, and it Shall be ratified in the same form and in the Same time So that the one Shall not be ratified distinct from the other. Another particular Convention Signed at the Same date as the present treaty relative to a definitive rule between the contracting parties is in the like manner approved and will be ratified in the Same form, and in the Same time and jointly. (T.9.1-T.9.2)

    Do Livingston, Monroe, and Barbé-Marbois know how to keep readers on the edge of their seats, or what? This is our little teaser that all kinds of detailed payment information is coming up in a couple of conventions that are separate from the treaty document.

    The President of the United States of America and the First Consul of the French Republic in the name of the French people, in consequence of the treaty of cession of Louisiana which has been Signed this day; wishing to regulate definitively every thing which has relation to the Said cession have authorized to this effect the Plenipotentiaries, that is to say the President of the United States has, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate of the Said States, nominated for their Plenipotentiaries, Robert R. Livingston, Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States, and James Monroe, Minister Plenipotentiary and Envoy-Extraordinary of the Said United States, near the Government of the French Republic; and the First Consul of the French Republic, in the name of the French people, has named as Plenipotentiary of the Said Republic the citizen Francis Barbé Marbois: who, in virtue of their full powers, which have been exchanged this day, have agreed to the followings articles […]. (C1.0)

    And when they say "every thing," they mean every…thing. These plenipotentiaries have full authority to hash out the whole Louisiana Territory payment agreement.

    For the payment of the Sum of Sixty millions of francs mentioned in the preceeding article the United States shall create a Stock of eleven millions, two hundred and fifty thousand Dollars bearing an interest of Six per cent: per annum payable half yearly in London Amsterdam or Paris amounting by the half year to three hundred and thirty Seven thousand five hundred Dollars, according to the proportions which Shall be determined by the french Government to be paid at either place: The principal of the Said Stock to be reimbursed at the treasury of the United States in annual payments of not less than three millions of Dollars each; of which the first payment Shall commence fifteen years after the date of the exchange of ratifications:—this Stock Shall be transferred to the government of France or to Such person or persons as Shall be authorized to receive it in three months at most after the exchange of ratifications of this treaty and after Louisiana Shall be taken possession of the name of the Government of the United States. (C1.2.1)

    This isn't one of those "thanks for the land, we'll get you back later" kind of deals. From the get-go, the rules of the repayment game are clear and specific, and they come complete with due dates and everything.

    It is agreed that the Dollar of the United States Specified in the present Convention shall be fixed at five francs 3333/100000 or five livres eight Sous tournois. (C1.3.1)

    These guys thought of everything, including exchange rates. Making it super clear that the agreed-upon payment amount would reflect this and only this exchange rate is one more way our fearless negotiators ensured that everyone involved knew exactly what had been agreed to—and for how much.

    It is expressly agreed that the preceding articles Shall comprehend no debts but Such as are due to citizens of the United States who have been and are yet creditors of France for Supplies for embargoes and prizes made at Sea, in which the appeal has been properly lodged within the time mentioned in the Said Convention 8th Vendémiaire ninth year, /30th Sept 1800/. (C2.4.1)

    Second verse, same as the first? Yeah, pretty much, except we're talking about money France owes the United States instead of money America owes France. But the level of detail in the second convention is about the same as it is in the first, and when it comes to making up the rules of this game, detail is key.

  • Sovereignty

    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. (T.1.3)

    That's right, folks: "for ever and in full Sovereignty." No more of this secret-treaty ownership stuff, and no more of this colony-of-Europe stuff, either. Louisiana is now part of the United States, and the United States is all about claiming its rights and appurtenances.

    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. (T.2.1-T.2.2)

    Guess it's true what they say: you can't take it with you. And that includes buildings, vacant lots, barracks, papers, documents, and a whole lot more. Everything in Louisiana is now the property of the U.S. of A.

    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. (T.3.1)

    It's tough to be a sovereign nation when the people living there are actually citizens of somewhere else. To avoid this issue altogether, this blanket statement basically says that everyone in Louisiana is gonna be American now, and that's just how it's going to go.

    Immediately after the ratification of the present Treaty by the President of the United States and in case that of the first Consul's shall have been previously obtained, the commissary of the French Republic shall remit all military posts of New Orleans and other parts of the ceded territory to the Commissary or Commissaries named by the President to take possession—the troops whether of France or Spain who may be there shall cease to occupy any military post from the time of taking possession and shall be embarked as soon as possible in the course of three months after the ratification of this treaty. (T.5.1)

    It's also tough to be a sovereign nation when all of the nearby troops and guns belong to another country. The United States had only had its own national military for 14 years when this treaty was enacted, but that didn't mean it wanted someone else's militia hogging all of the forts and weapons in Louisiana.

    […] it has been agreed between the contracting parties that the French Ships coming directly from France or any of her colonies loaded only with the produce and manufactures of France or her Said Colonies; and the Ships of Spain coming directly from Spain or any of her colonies loaded only with the produce or manufactures of Spain or her Colonies shall be admitted during the Space of twelve years in the Port of New-Orleans and in all other legal ports-of-entry within the ceded territory in the Same manner as the Ships of the United States coming directly from France or Spain or any of their Colonies without being Subject to any other or greater duty on merchandize or other or greater tonnage than that paid by the citizens of the United States. (T.7.1)

    One of the things sovereign nations get to do is decide who gets to do business within their borders, and the authors wasted no time in clearing up how commerce was going to go down in American Louisiana. France and Spain, since they'd been so helpful and friendly, were given special status. Other countries, not so much. (Looking at you, Great Britain.)

  • Language and Communication

    The President of the United States of America and the First Consul of the French Republic in the name of the French People desiring to remove all Source of misunderstanding relative to objects of discussion mentioned in the Second and fifth articles of the Convention of the 8th Vendémiaire an 9/30 September 1800 relative to the rights claimed by the United States in virtue of the Treaty concluded at Madrid the 27 of October 1795, between His Catholic Majesty & the Said United States, & willing to Strengthen the union and friendship which at the time of the Said Convention was happily reestablished between the two nations have respectively named their Plenipotentiaries to wit The President of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate of the Said States; Robert R. Livingston Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States and James Monroe Minister Plenipotentiary and Envoy extraordinary of the Said States near the Government of the French Republic; And the First Consul in the name of the French people, Citizen Francis Barbé Marbois Minister of the public treasury who after having respectively exchanged their full powers have agreed to the following Articles. (T.0)

    It's hard not to have a few misunderstandings when the parties involved in something speak totally different languages and are coming from totally different countries and perspectives. But, hey, any effort made to clear up those misunderstandings and improve communication between friends? We're all for it. We vote aye. Or oui, as the case may be.

    As it is reciprocally advantageous to the commerce of France and the United States to encourage the communication of both nations for a limited time in the country ceded by the present treaty until general arrangements relative to commerce of both nations may be agreed on; it has been agreed between the contracting parties that the French Ships coming directly from France or any of her colonies loaded only with the produce and manufactures of France or her Said Colonies; and the Ships of Spain coming directly from Spain or any of her colonies loaded only with the produce or manufactures of Spain or her Colonies shall be admitted during the Space of twelve years in the Port of New-Orleans and in all other legal ports-of-entry within the ceded territory in the Same manner as the Ships of the United States coming directly from France or Spain or any of their Colonies without being Subject to any other or greater duty on merchandize or other or greater tonnage than that paid by the citizens of the United States. (T.7.1)

    France might be selling Louisiana to the Yanks, but both nations are going to continue to communicate about the area for a while yet. And in this case, when we say "communicate," we're not talking about speaking French or English. This kind of communication is all about the language of commerce: money, money, money. And everyone speaks it.

    The particular Convention Signed this day by the respective Ministers, having for its object to provide for the payment of debts due to the Citizens of the United States by the French Republic prior to the 30th Sept. 1800 (8th Vendémiaire an 9) is approved and to have its execution in the Same manner as if it had been inserted in this present treaty, and it Shall be ratified in the same form and in the Same time So that the one Shall not be ratified distinct from the other. (T.9.1)

    This sentence provides one example of something we see elsewhere in the documents: the use of both the Gregorian date (i.e., the calendar the world knows and loves) and the French Revolutionary Calendar date (i.e., the remnants of a brief but failed experiment in changing the meaning of time). It's a nice nod to the differing rules that governed each nation—and to the weird but pretty names the French had given their new months. Vendémiaire? Love it.

    It is agreed that the Dollar of the United States Specified in the present Convention shall be fixed at five francs 3333/100000 or five livres eight Sous tournois. (C1.3.1)

    Talk about being culturally sensitive (and smart with money). Knowing that exchange rates change and that whatever $1 is worth today might change tomorrow, our boys wrote up this convention to seal in a certain exchange rate for debts due. This ensured that both parties knew exactly what the financial deal was. If that's not a great example of communicating across languages, we don't know what is.

    In faith of which, the respective Ministers Plenipotentiary have signed the above Articles both in the french and english languages, declaring nevertheless that the present treaty has been originally agreed on and written in the french language, to which they have hereunto affixed their Seals. (C2.13.2)

    Note: the names of languages aren't capitalized in France the way they are in the United States. So even though this sentence (and its friends in the treaty and first convention) has been translated into English, it looks like a little bit of Frenchiness is still hanging around.