University of Illinois Extension

Lewis & Clark

In addition, in 1802 the United States had just purchased a huge area of land from the French which was known as the Louisiana Purchase. It was 820, 000 square miles and the U.S. bought it for $15 million. For just three cents an acre, the President more than doubled the size of his country. The land was from west of the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. No Americans had yet explored it and so Jefferson chose his aide, and personal secretary Meriwether Lewis to lead the expedition.

Click here to see the Lousiana Purchase map.