History Note for Kids
Thomas Jefferson was the 3rd US President. He served as president from 1801-1809. It was a time of exploration and trade. Fulton's Steamboat made its first trip on the Hudson River. Louis and Clark left on a voyage of exploration from St Louis toward the Pacific Ocean.
At this time in history, France owned the port of New Orleans. Napoleon decided to block the US from using the French port. He knew the United States needed access to a big port for shipping and trade. And Napoleon needed money. England and France were at war. Napoleon needed a big chunk of money fast to fight the war.
As Napoleon expected, President Jefferson sent a representative to France to attempt to buy a piece of New Orleans. Instead, the United States government was able to buy much more land than they had expected, and for very little money per acre.
In 1803, the United States bought 500,000,000 acres of land at approximately 3 cents an acre! That piece of land was known as the Louisiana Purchase. The land purchased included the entire city of New Orleans.
With this one purchase, Napoleon gained the money he needed to fight a war with England, and the United States gained enough land to double in size. Even today, the Louisiana Purchase (in 1803) still ranks as one of the best real estate deals in history.