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Louisiana Purchase 1803 Essay Contest

Also on this day

Lead Story

1945

Adolf Hitler commits suicide

On this day in 1945, holed up in a bunker under his headquarters in Berlin, Adolf Hitler commits suicide by swallowing a cyanide capsule and shooting himself in the head. Soon after, Germany unconditionally surrendered to the Allied forces, ending Hitler’s dreams of a “1,000-year” Reich. Since at least 1943, it...

American Revolution

1776

Samuel Adams writes of hope for more battles

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Automotive

1948

Original Land Rover debuts at auto show

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Civil War

1864

Confederates attack Union troops at Jenkins’ Ferry

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Cold War

1948

Organization of American States established

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Crime

1927

The first federal prison for women opens

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Disaster

1888

Orange-sized hail reported in India

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General Interest

1789

The first presidential inauguration

In New York City, George Washington, the great military leader of the American Revolution, is inaugurated as the first president of the United States.In February 1789, all 69 presidential electors unanimously chose Washington to be the first U.S. president. In March, the new U.S. constitution officially took effect, and in...

1939

New York World’s Fair opens

On April 30, 1939, the New York World’s Fair opens in New York City. The opening ceremony, which featured speeches by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and New York Governor Herbert Lehman, ushered in the first day of television broadcasting in New York.Spanning 1,200 acres at Flushing Meadow Park in Queens,...

Hollywood

1997

“Coming out” episode of Ellen

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Literary

1945

Annie Dillard is born

Poet, essayist, and novelist Annie Dillard is born on this day in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1945. At age 28, Dillard became the youngest American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize, which she was awarded for her collection of essays Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (1974). The book, often compared with Henry David...

Music

1933

Willie Nelson is born

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1867

Arizona Ranger Burton Mossman is born

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Presidential

1789

George Washington gives first presidential inaugural address

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Sports

1993

Tennis star Monica Seles stabbed

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Vietnam War

1975

South Vietnam surrenders

By dawn, communist forces move into Saigon, where they meet only sporadic resistance. The South Vietnamese forces had collapsed under the rapid advancement of the North Vietnamese. The most recent fighting had begun in December 1974, when the North Vietnamese had launched a major attack against the lightly defended province...

World War I

1917

Battle of the Boot

On this day in 1917, the so-called Battle of the Boot marks the end of the British army’s Samarra Offensive, launched the previous month by Anglo-Indian forces under the regional commander in chief, Sir Frederick Stanley Maude, against the important Turkish railroad at Samarra, some 130 kilometers north of Baghdad,...

World War II

1945

Adolf Hitler commits suicide in his underground bunker

Der Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, dictator of Germany, burrowed away in a refurbished air-raid shelter, consumes a cyanide capsule, then shoots himself with a pistol, on this day in 1945, as his “1,000-year” Reich collapses above him. Hitler had repaired to his bunker on January 16, after deciding to remain in Berlin...

In 1800, the land held by the new United States was small compared to what was called Louisiana. Louisiana was named for King Louis XIV of France. It was part of a large claimed area in the New World called New France. It stretched from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico and from the Appalachian Mountains to the Rocky Mountains.

France to America: Let's Make a Deal

Napoleon Bonaparte, famous French political leader and general, needed money to finance his wars of conquest in Europe so he decided to sell the whole thing to the young United States. President Thomas Jefferson wasn’t sure the deal was something the Constitution allowed, but he felt that the port of New Orleans was so important that he did not want it to be controlled by France or by Spain, the other big colonial powers.

Jefferson paid out $11,250,000 to Napoleon and also forgave France $3,750,000 in debt the country owed the United States. So, for $15 million the U.S. gained control of territory that doubled its size.

From 1804 to 1806, Americans Meriwether Lewis and William Clark went on a mission of exploration at President Jefferson’s request. They were sent to discover what Thomas Jefferson had bought with $15 million of the young country’s money.

*Land West of the Continental Divide Not Included

Even though the Louisiana Purchase was large, it did not extend the United States from sea to shining sea. Spain still controlled the land west of the Rocky Mountains until 1810 when Mexico declared its independence, electing its first president in 1824. But much of the northern Mexican territory would become part of the United States of America after the Mexican-American War in 1848 (the Mexican Cession).

The states that would eventually be created from the Louisiana Purchase include: Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, parts of Minnesota that were west of the Mississippi River, most of North Dakota, nearly all of South Dakota, northeastern New Mexico, the portions of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado east of the Continental Divide, and Louisiana west of the Mississippi River, including the city of New Orleans.

Books to Check Out

The Jeffersonian Republicans, 1800-1823: The Louisiana Purchase and the War of 1812 by Christopher Collier and James Lincoln Collier
Discusses the events and personalities that shaped this country, from the hotly contested election of 1800 which brought Thomas Jefferson into office through the westward expansion to the War of 1812 and James Madison's presidency. (93 pages)

Lewis and Clark by Candice Ransom
Lewis and Clark set out in 1804 to explore President Jefferson’s new purchase and find a Northwest Passage. (48 pages)

The Louisiana Purchase by Michael Burgan
Looks at the political and economic history of the region between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains which, when purchased by Jefferson in 1803, doubled the size of the United States and led the way to further expansion. (48 pages)

The Louisiana Purchase by Elizabeth D. Jaffe
Explains the events that led Napoleon Bonaparte to sell the Louisiana Territory and the difficulties that Thomas Jefferson had in making the purchase that doubled the size of the United States. (48 pages)

The Louisiana Purchase: Would You Close the Deal? by Elaine Landau
A basic discussion about the history of the Louisiana Purchase, and how the United States expanded their lands by buying the Louisiana Territory from France

What's the Deal? Jefferson, Napoleon, and the Louisiana Purchase by Rhoda Blumberg
“This entertaining saga brings to life the intense negotiations between Napoleon and Jefferson over this legendary land deal. Art from the period, maps, a timeline, endnotes, a bibliography, and index give young readers all the resources they need to understand the period in which the Purchase took place.” (Publisher’s description)

On the Web

Our Documents: The Louisiana Purchase Treaty (1803)
Has summaries of the treaty and related documents, transcripts and images of the documents themselves.

Thomas Jefferson's Monticello: The Louisiana Purchase
Part of a well-written section on "Jefferson and Lewis and Clark." Other sections talk about the significance of the Lewis & Clark Expedition. It also includes a timeline.

U.S. History: Westward Expansion: The Louisiana Purchase
The essay portion is nicely and plainly written, and there are also links to pertinent sites, including information on tribes that would be displaced and the Louisiana State Museum.

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