The year was 1803, the United States of America was twenty-seven years old, and growing in leaps and bounds. On March 1st, OhioÂ became the 17th state, joining Delaware (1787), Pennsylvania (1787), New Jersey (1787), Georgia (1788), Connecticut (1788), Massachusetts (1788), Maryland (1788), South Carolina (1788), New Hampshire (1788), Virginia (1788), New York (1788), North Carolina (1789), Rhode Island (1790), Vermont (1791), Kentucky (1792), and Tennessee (1796).
(For more statehood dates, see 50states.com–http://www.50states.com/statehood1.htm)
After a successful revolt in Saint-Domingue, the French Emperor, Napoleon BonaparteÂ saw his dreams of expanding his empire to North America collapse. He had acquired the territory of Louisiana in 1800 through a secret treaty with Spain, and now with the Napoleonic Wars draining his coffers, he was ready to make a deal. Through the Louisiana Purchase, the United States bought the territory for $15 million dollars and thus adding an area that now represents one-third of the continental United States.
The Gettysburg Gazette of 19 August 1803Â wrote of this acquisition, “The cession of Louisiana will be considered as one of the most important events in the history of this country that has occurred since the declaration of independence. Mr. Jefferson’s presidency will be hailed by the future inhabitants of that extensive and delightful country, as the period of his birth, and his memory will be regarded with respect for having directed the negotiation, which terminated thus advantageously for his country.”
President Thomas Jefferson had wanted to explore areas to the west and before the Louisiana Purchase was even completed, he had commissioned an expedition. Still largely uncharted, the West held many possibilities, not the least of which was the possibility of a northwest passage to the Orient. Rumors of the creatures and environment of the mysterious land to the west abounded. The expeditionÂ was led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to chart the new territory. By the end of 1803, the expedition was on its way and had reached Camp River Dubois, Illinois.
When the journey ended, they had covered over 8,000 miles in less than two and a half years and the expedition greatly enhanced understanding of the land beyond the Mississippi River.