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1803 - Biggest Land Deal In History Settled

Biggest Land Deal In History

1803, December 20 -  The United States and France have concluded the biggest land deal in history today - some 8,31,321 square miles (21,53,121 sq km) have been bought from France for a mere $15 million (£8.2 million), doubling the size of the United States in the stroke of a pen. The Louisiana Purchase, as it is called, was offered for sale by French foreign Minister Talleyrand in a surprise move.

1803 Louisiana Purchase

There has been uncertainty regarding the whole region for some time. New Orleans, Louisiana, was transferred from Spain to France three years ago after some French bullying. The Americans, alarmed at the prospect of an ambitious Napoleon on their doorstep, began negotiations to buy New Orleans with very little success.

Negotiations had been bogged down until Talleyrand's surprise offer to sell the whole territory to the US. It is understood that US president Thomas Jefferson was prepared to ally himself to his old enemy Great Britain in order to get the French out of the New World, but France's capitulation marks the end of Napoleon's plans for an empire and makes the US one of the largest countries.