America’s Louisiana Purchase | Louisiana Public Broadcasting
Main Menu
America's Louisiana Purchase

America's Louisiana Purchase

“You have made a noble bargain for yourselves, and I suppose you will make the most of it.” (French Foreign Minister Talleyrand to U. S. Foreign Minister Robert Livingston following the Louisiana Purchase)

Near the beginning of the 19th century President Thomas Jefferson knew how vital the Mississippi River was to the young American nation. So He sent James Monroe and Robert Livingston to negotiate with Napoleon Bonaparate for the Isle of Orleans and the West Florida Republic. They were not able to obtain West Florida; but to the President's incredulous surprise, his foreign ministers were able to purchase the entire Louisiana Territory. With several strokes of a quill pen, the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 doubled America's size and seemed to some a brilliant maneuver. But, with a $15 million price tag ($23 million when counting interest paid to the Netherlands), this land deal was as controversial as it was promising. With the unprecedented transfer of such a vast expanse of land came exhilarating expansion for some and difficult displacement for others.

Enveloped within America’s vast new boundaries were bold alliances and dramatic divisions. The fate of the republic was at stake. How would the land be utilized? How would it be parceled out? And how would the young government deal with the many conflicts sure to arise between former inhabitants, new settlers and Native Americans? The Louisiana Public Broadcasting (LPB) video program "America's Louisiana Purchase: Noble Bargain, Difficult Journey" explores the environment leading up to the Louisiana Purchase, and the complex conditions it created for America as it struggled to become a burgeoning world power.

Watch this Program

Already a Friend of LPB? - Enjoy Passport.

Not a Friend of LPB? - Join here.

Get a copy on DVD.

Search on Passport for more great programs!

America's Louisiana Purchase

America's Louisiana Purchase Disclaimer


America's Louisiana Purchase Chapter 1


America's Louisiana Purchase Chapter 2

The River Runs Through It (Importance of the Mississippi River)

America's Louisiana Purchase Chapter 3

Napoleon's Surprise (The Sale of New France)

America's Louisiana Purchase Chapter 4

Noble Bargain (Signing of the Louisiana Purchase)

America's Louisiana Purchase Chapter 5

Exploring the Unknown (Lewis and Clark)

America's Louisiana Purchase Chapter 6

A Difficult Beginning (Tensions Between the East and West)

America's Louisiana Purchase Chapter 7

Test of Allegience (Battle of New Orleans)

America's Louisiana Purchase Chapter 8

Indian Conflicts

America's Louisiana Purchase Chapter 9

A Country Divided (Slavery)

America's Louisiana Purchase Chapter 10

Civil War

America's Louisiana Purchase Chapter 11

Go West, Young Country!

America's Louisiana Purchase Chapter 12

Creating an Empire

America's Louisiana Purchase Credits



1682 • LaSalle claims the lands drained by the Mississippi River for France (The Louisiana Territory)

1756-1763 • French and Indian War - Death of General Wolfe #3g02134u (Courtesy of U. S. Library of Congress)

1762 • France cedes Louisiana Territory to Spain

1776 • American Revolution begins - George Washington and the French 3g03359u (Courtesy of U. S. Library of Congress)

1783 • Treaty of Paris (Gives America new lands)

1789 • French Revolution begins - The Storming of the Tuileries Palace, August, 1792 (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

1795 • America receives right of deposit in New Orleans

1800 • Secret Treaty of San Ildefonso
1800 • France takes Louisiana Territory back from Spain

1802 • Slave Revolt on the Island of Saint Domingue

1803-1806 • Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery Expedition - Lewis and Clark Buffalo Scene (Courtesy of Kathy Dickson)
1803-1806 • Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery Expedition - Lewis and Bear (Courtesy of Kathy Dickson)

1803 • Louisiana Purchase - France sells Louisiana Territory to America (Courtesy of U. S. Capitol Historical Society)

1811 • America's largest Slave Revolt near New Orleans

1812 • War of 1812 between America and Great Britain begins 1812 - Jackson fighting on River #3g06878v (Courtesy of U. S. Library of Congress)

1815 • Battle of New Orleans (America fights Great Britain) - Jackson on Hill #3f03796v (Courtesy of U. S. Library of Congress)

1818 • British Cession of parts of Minnesota and North Dakota - Perry's Victory #3g06893v (Courtesy of U. S. Library of Congress)

1819 • Adams Onis Treaty
1819 • America buys East and West Florida from Spain

1820 • Missouri Compromise - Forcing Slavery down the throat of a Freesoiler #3b38367u (Courtesy of U. S. Library of Congress)

1821 • Monroe Doctrine - Monroe Doctrine (Courtesy of U. S. Capitol Historical Society)

1845 • Annexation of Texas
1845 • Manifest Destiny (1845-- Symbolic of America's Westward movement) - Manifest Destiny #09855u (Courtesy of U. S. Library of Congress)

1846 • America obtains Oregon Territory from Great Britain via treaty - Truce between U. S. and Great Britain #3f05745v (Courtesy of U. S. Library of Congress)

1848 • Mexican Cession - (America gains territory which would become AZ, CA, NV, NM, CO, WY) from Mexico - Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo - America Conquers Mexico #3g09950u (Courtesy of U. S. Library of Congress)

1841-1869 • Oregon Trail - Wagon Train - Image SCBL_275 by William Henry Jackson (Courtesy of Scott's Bluff National Monument, U. S. National Park Service)

1861-1865 • Civil War Begins - Abraham Lincoln #00052r (Courtesy of U. S. Library of Congress)

1862 • Homestead Act of 1862 signed by Abraham Lincoln

1869 • First Transcontinental Railroad completed - Golden Spike (Courtesy of U. S. Capitol Historical Society)

States • Years when each state of the Louisiana Territory came into the union

Louisiana Purchase Splash image (decorative)


National Archives and Records Administration (Transcription of the Louisiana Purchase Treaty)

NARA "Westward Expasion~The Louisiana Purchase"

Louisiana Secretary of State's Office

States by order of entry into the United States

Discovering Lewis and Clark

The Lewis and Clark Expedition

Territorial Acquisitions of the United States

Louisiana: A History

Teaching American History Louisiana's Role in TRADITIONAL AMERICAN HISTORY (TAH) PROJECT

National and Louisiana Standards for teaching American History • Web Quest 1 • Web Quest 2


Ambrose, Stephen. Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1996. Ambrose, Stephen. Lewis & Clark: Voyage of Discovery. Photographs by Sam Abell. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 1998.

Ambrose, Stephen and Brinkley, Douglas. Witness to America: An Illustrated Documentary History of the United States from the Revolution to Today. Edited by Stephen E. Ambrose and Douglas Brinkley. New York, Yew York: Harper, 1999.

Kastor, Peter. The Nation's Crucible: The Louisiana Purchase and the Creation of America. New Haven: CT: Yale University Press, 2004.

Kukla, Jon. A Wilderness So Immense: The Louisiana Purchase and the Destiny of America. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1st edition, 2003

Richard, Carl. The Louisiana Purchase (Part of the Louisiana Life Series, No. 7). Lafayette, LA: The Center for Louisiana Studies, University of Southwestern Louisiana, 1995

Other Related Reading:

Ambrose, Stephen. Nothing Like It in the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad, 1863-1869. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2000.

Hyde, Sam. Pistols and Politics: The Dilemma of Democracy in Louisiana's Florida Parishes, 1810-1899. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1996, paperback edition 1997

Richard, Carl. “A Dialogue with the Ancients: Thomas Jefferson and Classical Philosophy and History” in Journal of the Early Republic (1989)

Support programs like this on LPB!

Donate Now!

This project meets National Standards for teaching American History
and Louisiana's standards for teaching American History and Louisiana History.

Image of paintings & dominoes (decorative)


Funding provided by the Tangipahoa Parish School Board from a U.S. Department of Education Teaching American History Grant, Louisiana’s Role in Traditional American History (Grant# U215x040231).

Teaching American History Project Partners
Historic New Orleans Collection (HNOC)
Louisiana Archives
Louisiana Office of the Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism
Louisiana Public Broadcasting
Louisiana State Museum
Magnolia Mound
Region II Education Service Center
School Systems of Louisiana Region II
Southeastern Louisiana University
The State Library of Louisiana

Teaching American History Project Director
Ann Trappey

Head of History & Political Science
Southeastern Louisiana University
William B. Robison

Teaching American History Video Consultants
Homer Dyess
Ayan Rubin

Television program produced by:
Louisiana Public Broadcasting

Producer and Editor
Randy LaBauve

Randy LaBauve

Keith Crews
Rex Q. Fortenberry
Al Godoy
Tika Laudun
Virnado Woods

Logo and Map creations
Tammy Crawford

Web Team
Jeanne Webre Lamy
John Tooraen

James Bennett
Mark Carroll

Senior Producer
Tika Laudun

Executive Producer
Clay Fourrier

President & CEO
Beth Courtney

Stephen E. Ambrose, Historian
Raphael Cassimere, Jr., Historian (University of New Orleans, LA)
Glenn R. Conrad, Historian (University of Louisiana at Lafayette, LA)
Light Townsend Cummins, Historian (Austin College, Sherman, TX)
Mark F. Fernandez, Historian (Loyola University, New Orleans, LA)
Sam Hyde, Historian (Southeastern Louisiana University, Hammond, LA)
Peter J. Kastor, Historian (University of Washington, St. Louis, MO)
Jon Kukla, Historian (The Patrick Henry National Memorial)
Carl J. Richard, Historian (University of Louisiana at Lafayette, LA)
Christina Vella, Historian (Tulane University, New Orleans, LA)

Andre Chapoy

Theme Music:
Michael Esneault

Paul Bergeron
as Napoleon Bonaparte

Darren Bush
as Napoleon's Counsel

Dan Borne, Thomas Jefferson
Homer Dyess, Robert Livingston
Frank Kleinpeter, New York Evening Post
Paul Nevski, Napoleon and Charles Marie de Talleyrand

Props and Locations:
Bassett Furniture Direct
Chalmette Battlefield National Park
LSU French House (The Grand Salon)
LSU Rural Life Museum
Mansfield State Commemorative Area
Port Hudson State Historic Site

Additional Thanks:
William Arceneaux
Damon Casemore
Kirk Casemore
Charles Chamberlain III
Mary Lou Eichorn
Florent Hardy, Jr.
Thomas F. Jaques
William J. Miller
Paula Monroe
Stacy Peppitone
Gray Warriner
Robert Wheat

Archival Images:
Bibliotheque nationale de France
Gary Lucy (Professional Artist)
Historic New Orleans Collection (HNOC)
Kathy Dickson (Professional Artist)
Louisiana Historical Society
Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism
Louisiana State Museum
LSU Hill Memorial Library
NARA- National Archives and Records Administration
National Park Service
Northwind Picture Archives
New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA)
Scotts Bluff National Monument - William Henry Jackson Collection
The Granger Collection
The Library of Congress
The National Gallery of Art
Tulane Special Collections
U. S. Capitol Historical Society
Wisconsin Historical Society

Archival Footage:
Arkansas Dept. of Parks & Tourism
Camera One
Executive Productions Seattle (EPS)
Explore Minnesota Tourism
Louisiana Public Broadcasting (from the "Louisiana: A History" Series)
Missouri Tourism Department
Montana Department of Commerce
Nebraska Department of Tourism
New Mexico Tourism Department
North Dakota Tourism Division
Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department
Peter Mayer Advertising
South Dakota Office of Tourism
Union Pacific Railroad Museum
U. S. Army Corps of Engineers
Wyoming Division of Tourism

copyright 2007
Louisiana Educational Television Authority

France sells Louisiana Territory to America
(Courtesy of U. S. Capitol Historical Society)

Louisiana Purchase Banner (decorative)

Like the Program? Get the DVD!