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Beyond Lewis and Clark - Timeline 1803

The Army Explores The West

Louisiana Purchase (1803)

The United States government purchased the Louisiana Territory in 1803 for $15 million, or just under three cents an acre.

The country was only 27 years old and already had more than five million citizens. Most lived within 50 miles of the Atlantic Ocean, but people living near the Mississippi River—particularly those at New Orleans—operated independently in the world marketplace.

To avoid the possibility of this area becoming its own country, President Thomas Jefferson acquired the land for the United States. To do so, he had to purchase the entire Louisiana Territory from France. This doubled the size of the country and changed the course of American history.

North America at the time of the Louisiana Purchase.


Beyond Lewis and Clark is an online exhibit developed by the Kansas Museum of History. It is the result of a partnership between the Kansas Historical Society, the Virginia and Washington State historical societies, the U. S. Army's Frontier Army Museum at Leavenworth, and the U. S. Army Center of Military History.

Contact us at kshs.kansasmuseum@ks.gov