Press/Journalists
Press Release
April 21, 2003
MEDIA ALERT: Documents Recently Discovered on the Purchase of the Louisiana Territory

WHAT: What did it really cost the United States to buy the Louisiana Territory? How did the cash-poor young nation pay for it? Find out at this media-only event.

In anticipation of the bicentennial anniversary of the signing of the Louisiana Purchase Treaty (April 30, 2003), the media is invited to photograph original documents and interview a diplomatic history specialist about the financing and the history of the Treaty.

  • For the first time, documents recently discovered relating to the financing of the Treaty will be available for filming and photography. These include three stock certificates used to finance the purchase of the Louisiana Territory. These certificates, which were never cancelled, are the only ones known to have survived.
  • The first and signature pages of the original Louisiana Purchase Treaty (English version)

WHO: Dr. Milton Gustafson, the National Archives expert on international treaties, will be available for interviews.

WHEN: Thursday, April 24, 2003. 10 A.M.-- Noon.

WHERE: Room 105, National Archives Building.
Use Pennsylvania Avenue entrance, between 7th and 9th Streets, NW, Washington, DC.

PHOTOGRAPHERS & CAMERA CREWS: NO ARTIFICIAL LIGHT may be used on the documents.

BACKGROUND: Robert Livingston and James Monroe closed on the sweetest real estate deal of the millennium when they signed the Louisiana Purchase Treaty in Paris on April 30, 1803. They were authorized to pay France up to $10 million for the port of New Orleans and the Floridas. When offered the entire territory of Louisiana-an area larger than Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal combined-the American negotiators swiftly agreed to a price of $15 million. The Louisiana Purchase added 828,000 square miles of land west of the Mississippi River to the United States. For roughly 4 cents an acre, the United States had purchased a territory whose natural resources amounted to a richness beyond anyone's wildest calculations.

For press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs Staff at 301-837-1700.

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