The land from the MISSISSIPPI RIVER west to the
ROCKY MOUNTAINS was known as the LOUISIANA
TERRITORY. SPAIN owned the land. In 1801, SPAIN
granted the territory to FRANCE.
JEFFERSON feared that FRANCE’S leader,
NAPOLEON BONAPARTE, might try to build
FRENCH colonies on the land. As a result, he
offered to buy the land from NAPOLEON.
In 1803, the UNITED STATES and FRANCE signed
a treaty that gave the LOUISIANA TERRITORY to
AMERICA for $15,000,000. The addition nearly
DOUBLED the size of the United States.
Before JEFFERSON purchased the land, he had to
overcome a CONSTITUTIONAL dilemma. The
CONSTITUTION does not give the federal government
the power to PURCHASE TERRITORY from another
JEFFERSON solved this problem by making the
purchase part of a treaty, and PRESIDENTS do have
the CONSTITUTIONAL authority to make treaties.
Many FEDERALISTS opposed the LOUISIANA
PURCHASE. They feared it would increase the power
of the SOUTH by adding more states that favored
Many AMERICANS favored gaining so much new land.
As a result, the SENATE approved the treaty.
In the spring of 1804, MERIWETHER LEWIS
and WILLIAM CLARK began an exploration of
the LOUISIANA TERRITORY.
They reached the PACIFIC OCEAN in late 1805
and returned home in September 1806.
Meanwhile, ZEBULON PIKE led an expedition
to the upper MISSISSIPPI RIVER. Later in
1806-07, he explored the COLORADO region
and sighted the mountain we now know as
THOMAS JEFFERSON easily won reelection as
President in 1804.
Former Vice President AARON BURR ran for
governor of NEW YORK and lost. BURR
publicly clashed with ALEXANDER HAMILTON,
who criticized BURR’S moral values. In 1804,
BURR challenged HAMILTON to a duel. During
the gunfight, BURR shot and killed