Credit: MPI/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Historical Insights The Louisiana Purchase

Shortly after the land was acquired, U.S. President Thomas Jefferson enlisted Captain Meriwether Lewis and his friend William Clark to explore and map the new territory. 1833, Missouri. Credit: MPI/Archive Photos/Getty Images

The Louisiana Purchase

On July 4, 1803, with the swish of President Thomas Jefferson’s pen, the United States doubled in size, bringing a diverse group of people into the States and sparking conflict for years to come.

They say a country can’t change overnight, but on July 4, 1803, that’s just what happened. The Louisiana Purchase Agreement nearly doubled the size of the United States. Stretching from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains, the 828,000 square miles covered what would later become 15 states, including Montana, Minnesota, and of course Louisiana. The territory was already home to French, British, Spanish, and Native Americans. Soon American pioneers from across the country blazed the trail for thousands who would follow in search of opportunity and property. But this rapid change did not come without conflict: violence between settlers and Native Americans bloodied the 19th century. It took years for everyone to learn how to peacefully live together, but over time each group carved out its own space. Today we see these cultural legacies—the French in Louisiana, the Spanish in the Southwest—in what would become the American melting pot.