3¢ Louisiana Purchase
Issue Date: April 30, 1953
City: St. Louis, MO
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Perforations: 11 x 10½
Color: Violet brown
Issued to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase, U.S. #1020 pictures Karl Bitter’s sculptured plaque of James Monroe, Robert R. Livingston, and Francois Barbe Marbois signing the 1803 Louisiana Transfer in Paris.
The Louisiana Purchase
In 1803, the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France, acquiring more than 800,000 square miles of land extending from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains. The price was about $15 million – a remarkable bargain. In fact, the Louisiana Purchase has been called the greatest real estate deal in history. Thirteen U.S. states were carved from this massive land purchase, including most of Oklahoma (the panhandle area of the state was not acquired until after the Mexican-American War.
Historians consider the purchase the most important event of U.S. President Thomas Jefferson’s first administration, if not his presidency. France’s Napoleon Bonaparte sold Louisiana to raise money to support his military ventures in Europe. Jefferson believed the U.S. Constitution did not grant the government power to make such a purchase, and in doing so, felt he had “stretched the Constitution ‘till it cracked.” However, he felt the benefits to the nation outweighed such a violation of the Constitution.
In a message to Congress, Jefferson said, “Whilst the property and sovereignty of the Mississippi and its waters secure an independent outlet for the produce of the Western States and an uncontrolled navigation through their whole course... the fertility of the country, its climate and extent, promise in due season important aids to our Treasury, an ample provision for our posterity, and a wide spread for blessings of freedom and equal laws.”