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Louisiana Purchase: A Legislative Timeline

1803-1804 (8th Congress, 1st Session)

Jefferson continues to advocate for his cause to purchase Louisiana. A timeline of significant dates and activities in the 1st session of the 8th Congress is included below.

September 30, 1803

Governor William C. C. Claiborne delivers an address to the citizens of Louisiana.

October 17, 1803

Thomas Jefferson presents his Third Annual Message to Congress, which discusses the Louisiana Purchase.

Thomas Jefferson sends a message to the Senate on the Louisiana Purchase treaty and related communications.

October 20, 1803

The Senate ratifies the Louisiana Purchase treaty by a vote of 24 yeas and 7 nays.

October 21, 1803

Thomas Jefferson sends a message to Congress on the Louisiana Purchase treaty.

In addition to the presidential message, Jefferson submits to Congress a copy of the Louisiana Purchase treaties, as well as related communications written and received by Robert Livingston, James Monroe, Rufus King, James Madison, and Charles Pinckney during and after negotiations.

The Senate introduces “An act to enable the President of the United States to take possession of the territories ceded by France to the United States, by the treaty concluded at Paris on the thirtieth of April last, and for the temporary government thereof.”

The House of Representatives debates the Louisiana Treaty.

October 24, 1803

The House of Representatives continues to debate the Louisiana Treaty.

October 25, 1803

The House of Representatives continues to debate the Louisiana Treaty.

October 26, 1803

The Senate passes “An act to enable the President of the United States to take possession of the territories ceded by France to the United States, by the treaty concluded at Paris on the thirtieth of April last, and for the temporary government thereof.”

October 27, 1803

The House of Representatives debates “An act to enable the President of the United States to take possession of the territories ceded by France to the United States, by the treaty concluded at Paris on the thirtieth of April last, and for the temporary government thereof.”

The House of Representatives introduces a bill “Making provision for the payment of claims of citizens of the United States on the Government of France, the payment of which has been assumed by the United States, by virtue of the Convention of the thirtieth of April, one thousand eight hundred and three, between the United States and the French Republic.”

October 28, 1803

The House of Representatives passes "An act to enable the President of the United States to take possession of the territories ceded by France to the United States, by the treaty concluded at Paris on the thirtieth of April last, and for the temporary government thereof," together with the amendments agreed to the day before, which was read the third time.

The House of Representatives debates a bill “for carrying into effect the Convention of the thirtieth of April, one thousand eight hundred and three, between the United States of America and the French Republic,” which authorized the creation of a stock to the amount of $11,250,000.

October 29, 1803

The Senate retreats from its disagreement with the House of Representatives concerning the amendments the House insists on attaching to "An act to enable the President of the United States to take possession of the territories ceded by France to the United States, by the treaty concluded at Paris on the thirtieth of April last, and for the temporary government thereof.”

The House of Representatives debates and passes “An act making provision for the payment of claims of citizens of the United States on the Government of France, the payment of which has been assumed by the United States, by virtue of the Convention of the thirtieth of April, one thousand eight hundred and three, between the United States and the French Republic.”

October 31, 1803

Thomas Jefferson signs into law “An act to enable the President of the United States to take possession of the territories ceded by France to the United States, by the treaty concluded at Paris on the thirtieth of April last, and for the temporary government thereof.”
 

November 2, 1803

The Senate debates “An act authorizing the creation of a stock to the amount of eleven millions two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, for the purpose of carrying into effect the Convention of the 30th of April, 1803, between the United States and the French Republic.”

The Senate passes “An act making provision for the payment of claims of citizens of the United States on the government of France, the payment of which has been assumed by the United States by virtue of the convention of the 30th of April, 1803, between the United States and the French Republic.”

November 3, 1803

The Senate debates and passes “An act authorizing the creation of a stock to the amount of eleven millions two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, for the purpose of carrying into effect the Convention of the 30th of April, 1803, between the United States and the French Republic.”

November 7, 1803

The House of Representatives agrees to the Senate amendment to “An act authorizing the creation of a stock to the amount of eleven millions two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, for the purpose of carrying into effect the Convention of the thirtieth of April, one thousand eight hundred and three, between the United States and the French Republic.”

November 10, 1803

Thomas Jefferson signs into law “An act authorizing the creation of a stock to the amount of eleven millions two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, for the purpose of carrying into effect the Convention of the thirtieth of April, one thousand eight hundred and three, between the United States and the French Republic.”

Thomas Jefferson signs into law “An Act authorizing the creation of a stock, to the amount of eleven million two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, for the purpose of carrying into effect the convention of the thirtieth of April, one thousand eight hundred and three, between the United States of America and the French Republic.”

November 14, 1803

Thomas Jefferson sends a message to Congress containing a “Description of Louisiana.” This description contains a digest of information known about Louisiana and discusses geography, population, militias, fortification, lands and titles, agriculture, the judicial system, education, religion, government, taxes and duties, expenses and debt, trade, and manufacturing.

November 29, 1803

Thomas Jefferson sends a message to Congress containing a “Digest of the Laws of Louisiana” and a “Census of Louisiana.”

November 30, 1803

The House of Representatives introduces “a bill giving effect to the laws of the United States within the territories ceded to the United States by the treaty of the thirtieth of April, one thousand eight hundred and three, between the United States and the French Republic, and for other purposes.”

December 16, 1803

The House of Representatives debates a bill "Giving effect to the laws of the United States within the Territories ceded to the United States by the treaty of the thirtieth of April, one thousand eight hundred and three, between the United States and the French Republic, and for other purposes.”

December 19, 1803

The House of Representatives passes "An act giving effect to the laws of the United States within the Territories ceded to the United States by the treaty of the thirtieth of April, one thousand eight hundred and three, between the United States and the French Republic, and for other purposes.”

December 20, 1803

In New Orleans, William C. C. Claiborne and James Wilkinson sign the documents officially transferring Lower Louisiana from France to the United States. The transfer is announced in a letter addressed to Secretary of State James Madison.

January 5, 1804

The Senate debates “An act giving effect to the laws of the United States within the Territories ceded to the United States by the treaty of the 30th of April, 1803, between the United States and the French Republic, and for other purposes.”

January 13, 1804

The Senate continues to debate “An act giving effect to the laws of the United States within the Territories ceded to the United States by the treaty of the 30thof April, 1803, between the United States and the French Republic, and for other purposes.”

January 14, 1804

The Senate passes “An act giving effect to the laws of the United States within the territories ceded to the United States by the treaty of the 30th of April, 1803, between the United States and the French Republic, and for other purposes,” with amendments. The title is changed by striking out the words “giving effect to the laws of the United States,” and inserting in lieu thereof the words “for laying and collecting duties on imports and tonnage.”

January 16, 1804

Thomas Jefferson sends a message to Congress regarding the formal transfer of the Louisiana Territory to the United States from France, which includes the December 20, 1803 letter from William C. C. Claiborne and James Wilkinson announcing the transfer.

The Senate debates and votes on amendments to a bill entitled "erecting Louisiana into two Territories, and providing for the temporary government thereof.”

The House of Representatives considers the amendments proposed by the Senate to “An act giving effect to the laws of the United States within the territories ceded to the United States by the treaty of the thirtieth of April, one thousand eight hundred and three, between the United States and the French Republic, and for other purposes.”

January 17, 1804

The Senate debates and votes on amendments to the bill “erecting Louisiana into two Territories and providing for the temporary government thereof.”

January 23, 1804

The Senate receives an “Application to prohibit the importation of slaves into the territory of Louisiana.”

January 24, 1804

The House of Representatives presents a report on the Senate amendments to “An act giving effect to the laws of the United States within the territories ceded to the United States by the treaty of the thirtieth of April, one thousand eight hundred and three, between the United States and the French Republic, and for other purposes.”

January 25, 1804

The House of Representatives debates a report "on the amendments of the Senate to the bill giving effect to the laws of the United States in Louisiana."

January 26, 1804

The House of Representatives debates and votes on Senate amendments to “An act giving effect to the laws of the United States within the territories ceded to the United States by the treaty of the 30th of April, 1803, between the United States and the French Republic, and for other purposes.”

January 30, 1804

The Senate debates and votes on amendments to “An Act erecting Louisiana into two Territories and providing for the temporary government thereof.”

January 31, 1804

The Senate debates and votes on amendments to “An Act erecting Louisiana into two Territories and providing for the temporary government thereof.”

The House of Representatives agrees to a conference with the Senate on “An act giving effect to the laws of the United States within the Territories ceded to the United States by the treaty of the 30th of April, 1803, between the United States and the French Republic, and for other purposes.”

February 2, 1804

The Senate debates and votes on amendments to “the bill erecting Louisiana into two Territories and providing for the temporary government thereof.”

February 3, 1804

The House of Representatives debates “An act giving effect to the laws of the United States within the Territories ceded to the United States by the treaty of the thirtieth of April, one thousand eight hundred and three, between the United States and the French Republic, and for other purposes.”

February 7, 1804

The Senate debates and votes on amendments to “An Act erecting Louisiana into two Territories and providing for the temporary government thereof.”

February 9, 1804

The House of Representatives receives a message from the Senate concerning amendments to “An act giving effect to the laws of the United States within the territories ceded to the United States by the treaty of the thirtieth of April, one thousand eight hundred and three, between the United States and the French Republic, and for other purposes.”

The Senate debates amendments to “An act giving effect to the laws of the United States within the territories ceded to the United States by the treaty of the 30th of April, 1803, between the United States and the French Republic, and for other purposes.”

February 10, 1804

The Senate debates and votes on amendments to “the bill erecting Louisiana into two Territories and making temporary provision for a government thereof.”

February 13, 1804

The Senate debates and votes on amendments to “the bill erecting Louisiana into two Territories and providing for the temporary government thereof.”

The House of Representatives and the Senate agree on amendments to “An act giving effect to the laws of the United States within the Territories ceded to the United States by the treaty of the thirtieth of April, one thousand eight hundred and three, between the United States and the French Republic, and for other purposes.”

February 17, 1804

The Senate debates and votes on amendments to “the bill erecting Louisiana into two Territories and providing for the temporary government thereof.”

February 18, 1804

The Senate passes “the bill erecting Louisiana into two Territories and providing for the temporary government thereof.”

The House of Representatives passes a resolution “to inquire into the expediency of authorizing the President of the United States to employ persons to explore such parts of the province of Louisiana as he may think proper.”

February 20, 1804

The House of Representatives orders “An Act Erecting Louisiana into two Territories, and providing for the temporary Government thereof” to be committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

Thomas Jefferson sends a message to Congress entitled “Fraudulent Practices in Acquiring Lands in Louisiana.”

February 24, 1804

Thomas Jefferson signs into law “An Act for laying and collecting of duties on imports and tonnage within the territories ceded to the United States by the treaty of the thirtieth of April, one thousand eight hundred and three, between the United States and the French Republic, and for other purposes."

February 28, 18804

The House of Representatives debates “An Act erecting Louisiana into two Territories and providing for the temporary government thereof.”

February 29, 1804

The House of Representatives continues to debate “An Act erecting Louisiana into two territories and providing for the temporary government thereof.”

The House of Representatives orders “A Bill Providing for the expenses of the Civil Government of Louisiana” to be committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

March 3, 1804

The House of Representatives passes a "bill providing for the expenses of the civil government of Louisiana.”

March 8, 1804

The House of Representatives, Committee of Commerce and Manufactures, reads a report “to inquire into the expediency of authorizing the President of the United States to employ persons to explore such parts of the province of Louisiana as he may think proper.”

Thomas Jefferson sends a message to Congress on the “Importation of slaves into Louisiana."

March 9, 1804

The House of Representatives debates “the bill for the government of Louisiana.”

March 14, 1804

The Senate passes “An act providing for the expenses of the civil government of Louisiana.”

The House of Representatives debates and votes on amendments to “An Act erecting Louisiana into two Territories and providing for the temporary government thereof.”

March 15, 1804

The House of Representatives debates and votes on amendments to “the bill for the temporary government of Louisiana.”

The House of Representatives passes with Senate amendments “An act providing for the expenses of the civil government of Louisiana.”

March 16, 1804

The House of Representatives debates and votes on amendments to “An act erecting Louisiana into two Territories and providing for the temporary government thereof.”

March 17, 1804

The House of Representatives passes the “bill erecting Louisiana into two Territories and providing for the temporary government thereof.”

March 19, 1804

Thomas Jefferson signs into law “An Act providing for the expenses of the Civil Government of Louisiana.”

March 20, 1804

The Senate debates and votes on the House of Representatives amendments to “An act erecting Louisiana into two Territories and providing for the temporary government thereof.”

The House of Representatives receives a message from the Senate regarding amendments accepted and rejected to “An Act erecting Louisiana into two Territories and providing for the temporary Government thereof.”

March 21, 1804

The House of Representatives debates and votes on the Senate amendments to “An Act erecting Louisiana into two Territories and providing for the temporary Government thereof.”

March 23, 1804

The House of Representatives recede from their amendments to “An act erecting Louisiana into two territories and providing for the temporary government thereof” and notifies the Senate.

March 26, 1804

Thomas Jefferson signs into law “An Act erecting Louisiana into two territories and providing for the temporary government thereof,” which divides Louisiana into the Territory of Orleans and the District of Louisiana.

March 27, 1804

The House of Representatives passes “An Act to provide for a more extensive distribution of the Laws of the United States.”

The Senate passes “An Act to provide for a more extensive distribution of the Laws of the United States.”

Thomas Jefferson signs into law “An Act to provide for a more extensive distribution of the Laws of the United States.” This act stipulates that one hundred copies of the Laws of the United States be distributed to the Territory of Orleans and the District of Louisiana.