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Primary Documents in American History

Louisiana Purchase

Draft copy of the Louisiana Purchase Treaty, dated April 29 and 30, 1803
Project of a Treaty Proposed to Mr. de Marbois, Minister of the Treasury, by the undersigned, Ministers Plenipotentiary of the United States, Paris, April 29 and 30, 1803.
Autograph draft document, 9 pp.
The James Monroe Papers.
Manuscript Division.

The Louisiana Purchase is considered the greatest real estate deal in history. The United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France at a price of $15 million, or approximately four cents an acre. The ratification of the Louisiana Purchase treaty by the Senate on October 20, 1803, doubled the size of the United States and opened up the continent to its westward expansion.

Library of Congress Web Site | External Web Sites | Selected Bibliography

Digital Collections

A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875

This collection contains congressional publications from 1774 to 1875, including debates, bills, laws, and journals.

  • The Louisiana Purchase: Legislative Timeline 1802-1807 - This timeline explores the role of Congress in the Louisiana Purchase from 1802 to 1807, including ratification of the treaty, establishment of a territorial government, confrontation with Spain over boundary issues, and its limited role in the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

James Madison Papers, 1723 to 1859

The Madison Papers consist of approximately 12,000 items, spanning the period 1723-1859, captured in some 72,000 digital images.

Search this collection using the word "Louisiana" to locate additional documents related to this topic.

James Monroe Papers

The James Monroe Papers at the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress consist of approximately 5,200 items dating from 1758 to 1839. Monroe (1758–1831) was the fifth president of the United States, and one of 23 presidents whose papers are at the Library of Congress. Monroe's papers document his presidency and also his prior careers as secretary of state, secretary of war, delegate to the United States Continental Congress, diplomat, and governor of Virginia.

Consult the guide to using the James Monroe Papers to locate additional items in this collection.

Louisiana: European Explorations and the Louisiana Purchase

This collection focuses on the various documents—from maps to newspapers to cultural artifacts—that help to describe the region of North America that stretched from as far east as Alabama into what is now the state of Montana. The 119 items presented here come from the various special and general collections of the Library of Congress.


The Library of Congress has custody of the largest and most comprehensive cartographic collection in the world with collections numbering over 5.5 million maps, 80,000 atlases, 6,000 reference works, over 500 globes and globe gores, 3,000 raised relief models, and a large number of cartographic materials in other formats, including over 19,000 cds/dvds. The online map collections represents only a small fraction that have been converted to digital form.

  • Louisiana. This map of Louisiana was published in the 1804 edition of the Arrowsmith & Lewis New and Elegant General Atlas.
Search this collection to locate additional maps related to the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Printed Ephemera: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera

The Printed Ephemera collection comprises 28,000 primary-source items dating from the seventeenth century to the present and encompasses key events and eras in American history.

Rare Book Selections

The digitized selections in this collection represent a few of the most interesting and important items in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

Thomas Jefferson Papers, 1606 to 1827

The complete Thomas Jefferson Papers from the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress consists of approximately 27,000 documents.

Search on the word "Louisiana" to retrieve over one hundred documents.

America's Library

Jump Back in Time: Senate Ratified the Louisiana Purchase Treaty, October 20, 1803.


American Treasures of the Library of Congress - Lewis and Clark Expedition

Provides maps and documents from the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Rivers, Edens, Empire - Lewis & Clark and the Revealing of America

This exhibition contains maps, images and documents on the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The Before Lewis & Clark section of this exhibition includes documents and maps related to the Louisiana Purchase.

Thomas Jefferson

This exhibition focuses on the legacy of Thomas Jefferson--founding father, farmer, architect, inventor, slaveholder, book collector, scholar, diplomat, and the third president of the United States. A section on the West examines Jefferson’s role in the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Today in History

August 18, 1774

Explorer Meriwether Lewis was born on August 18, 1774 near Charlottesville, Virginia.

October 20, 1803

The Senate ratified the Louisiana Purchase treaty on October 20, 1803.

Link disclaimerExternal Web Sites

The Lewis and Clark Expedition, Monticello

The Lewis & Clark Journey of Discovery, National Park Service

The Louisiana Purchase, The Lehrman Institute

The Louisiana Purchase and Associated Documents, The Avalon Project at Yale Law School

The Louisiana Purchase Bicentennial: A Heritage Explored, Louisiana State University

The Louisiana Purchase Bicentennial Celebration: A Nation Reborn 1803-2003, Louisiana Purchase Bicentennial Commission

Our Documents, The Louisiana Purchase Treaty, National Archives and Records Administration

Selected Bibliography

Cerami, Charles. Jefferson's Great Gamble: The Remarkable Story of Jefferson, Napoleon and the Men Behind the Louisiana Purchase. Naperville, Ill.: Sourcebooks, 2003. [Catalog Record]

Fleming, Thomas J. The Louisiana Purchase. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, 2003. [Catalog Record]

Kastor, Peter J., ed. The Louisiana Purchase: Emergence of an American Nation. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2002. [Catalog Record]

Kennedy, Roger G. Mr. Jefferson's Lost Cause: Land, Farmers, Slavery, and the Louisiana Purchase. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. [Catalog Record]

Kukla, Jon. A Wilderness So Immense: The Louisiana Purchase and the Destiny of America. New York: A.A. Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 2003. [Catalog Record]

Rodriguez, Junius P., ed. The Louisiana Purchase: A Historical and Geographical Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 2002. [Catalog Record]

Younger Readers

Blumberg, Rhoda. What's the Deal? Jefferson, Napoleon and the Louisiana Purchase. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 1998. [Catalog Record]

Burgan, Michael. The Louisiana Purchase. Minneapolis, Minn.: Compass Point Books, 2002. [Catalog Record]

Corrick, James A. The Louisiana Purchase. San Diego: Lucent Books, 2001. [Catalog Record]

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  November 15, 2017
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