Livingstone was authorized to offer ten million dollars for New Orleans. Talleyrand, the French foreign minister, although personally opposed to the deal, offered the city and the Louisiana territory for fifteen million dollars as Napoleon ordered. The deal amounted to about three cents per acre and doubled the size of the United States. The American ministers believed that President Jefferson would approve the deal and signed the agreement before the mercurial emperor could renege. Napoleon saw war with Britain inevitable and did not need North American property to worry about, and he could use the money to help finance France’s wars. Jefferson readily agreed to the treaty, being convinced it fell within his strict constitutional views of presidential responsibility. Not everyone agreed.
Treaty between the United States of America and the French Republic ceding the province of Louisiana to the United States, April 30, 1803
Since the treaty had to be approved by the Senate and the money appropriated by the House of Representatives, the Federalists pulled out the stops to prevent the deal from being consummated. The New England Federalists objected on several fronts. The treaty would anger England and thereby damage political and perhaps economic relations with New England’s favorite European power. New Southern states could be carved from the territory and the Federalists could not bear the thought of even more Jeffersonian Republican political power. Eastern seaboard ports like New York and Boston might lose business. Timothy Pickering of Massachusetts even broached the idea of secession.
A flag-raising at Place d’Armes (now Jackson Square) in New Orleans marks the transfer of sovereignty over Louisiana from France to the United States, December 20, 1803