This timeline examines the role of the U.S. Congress in the Louisiana Purchase during the years 1802 to 1807. The digital images and congressional documents referenced in the timeline are available online from the Library of Congress.
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Ken Drexler, Reference Specialist, Researcher and Reference Services Division
Ann Hemmens, Senior Legal Reference Librarian, Law Library of Congress
Barbara Bavis, Bibliographic and Research Instruction Librarian, Law Library of Congress
Anna Price, Legal Reference Specialist, Law Library of Congress
Note: This guide is adapted from a timeline previously hosted on the American Memory: A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation webpage. Ken Drexler was the author of the original publication.
Created: December 3, 2020
Last Updated: March 6, 2021
In the year 1803, the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory (approximately 828,000 square miles in North America) from the country of France for $15 million. The signing of the Louisiana Purchase treaty on April 30, 1803 (8 Stat. 200) [PDF] doubled the size of the United States and promoted further westward expansion.
This timeline examines 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. The congressional documents contained within this timeline come from the American Memory collection A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation and the digital collections at the Library of Congress.