October 20: Louisiana Purchase
On this date in 1803, the United States Senate ratified Jefferson’s treaty to purchase Louisiana from France. Two months later on December, at a flag-raising ceremony on the Plaza de Armas, France turned over New Orleans to the United States. In March of the following year, another ceremony was held in St. Louis to transfer Upper Louisiana first from Spain to France and then from France to the United States. This second exchange is celebrated as Three Flags Day.
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One of many Jefferson illustrations from the ClipArt ETC website. Jefferson was President at the time of the Louisiana Purchase. He argued that even though the U.S. Constitution did not contain explicit provisions for acquiring territory, his constitutional power to negotiate treaties was sufficient to make the purchase.
Robert R. Livingston
Portrait of Robert R. Livingston from the ClipArt ETC website. Livingston was the U.S. Minister to France from 1801 to 1804 and helped negotiate the Louisiana Purchase. After signing the purchase agreement, he stated, “We have lived long but this is the noblest work of our whole lives … The United States take rank this day among the first powers of the world.”
Jefferson's Sate of the Union, 1803
President Jefferson used his annual message to Congress, October 17, 1803, to explain the reasons for moving forward with the Louisiana Purchase and the expected benefits regarding security and trade.
Jefferson's Sate of the Union, 1804
President Jefferson used his annual message to Congress, November 4, 1804, to review issues related to the Louisiana Purchase and the establishment of temporary government in the territory.