Let the Land rejoice, for you have bought Louisiana for a Song.
--Gen. Horatio Gates to President Thomas Jefferson, July 18, 1803
The Louisiana Purchase has been described as the greatest real estate deal in history. In 1803 the United States paid France $15 million for the Louisiana Territory--828,000 square miles of land west of the Mississippi River. The lands acquired stretched from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains and from the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian border. Thirteen states were carved from the Louisiana Territory. The Louisiana Purchase nearly doubled the size of the United States, making it one of the largest nations in the world.
From the "Stampless Catalog": Prior to 1812 the name Louisiana applied to nearly all the land that would later be included in Missouri Territory. This region stretching from Hope Encampment (nearly opposite Chickasaw Bluffs) northward to Canada and westward to the Rocky Mountains, was first called Upper Louisiana by the Spaniards. It was acquired by the United States in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 and formally transferred to the United States of March 3, 1804, when Captain Amos Stoddard took command at St. Louis.
Following a period of Military Government, the area passed through three stages of territorial government:
1 October 1804 until 4 July 1805: By the Act of 26 March 1804, Upper Louisiana became the District of Louisiana, effective 1 October 1804.
4 July 1805 until 6 December 1812: By Act of 31 March 1805 the District of Louisiana became the Territory of Louisiana effective 4 July 1805.