this, three men, all from different nationalities, each survivors of wars and
reigns of terror, mutually suspicious of each other and in addition each was still
alive only because they had escaped the gallows or the guillotine in their own
countries, all sitting down in a dim-lighted salon in Paris, France, to conduct
What kind of business? One representing the most powerful man
in the world at the moment, would offer to sell a huge tract of land he did not
own or know the boundaries, to another man who had little money much less the
authority to buy.
That tract of land consisted of all the lands the Mississippi
River drained including all the lands its tributaries drained, basically all the
property north of the Gulf of Mexico and west of the Mississippi River to the
Shining Mountains (wherever they were) north to Canada (wherever that was). Now,
is that a clear legal description or what?
The seller was Napoleon who
needed the money to fight his next war. The buyer was Thomas Jefferson a man without
an army, navy or hardly any money in his treasury and who was surrounded by hostile
neighbors in his new country. Not only that, but in order to buy the land he would
have to borrow the purchase money from England, one of his hostile neighbors and
also one of the only countries in the world with that much money to loan.
so, the deal was made. Overnight it doubled the size of the United States though
no one knew it at the time because it had never been seen by white men much less
Thus the most spectacular real estate deal ever made was transacted,
selling 900,000,000 square miles of the very heartland of the American Continent
for $12 million of which every cent had to be borrowed. If you think modern politics
and government efforts are a bit wild and wooly today, read the book "Eminent
Domain" to learn of past government escapades.
For an interesting math
problem of the day, multiply 900,000,000 square miles by 640 acres per square
mile and divide that into $12 million to determine the cost per acre.
Of further interest, the state of Louisiana is different from other states when
pertaining to legal documents. Where all other states in America's legal system
for the most part is based on English Common Law, Louisiana was part of the French
Territory included in the Louisiana Purchase described above.
It's legal system for the most part is based on French or Civil Law. Also called
the Napoleonic Code. It came about as at one time Napoleon tried to standardize
the legal system for his empire which included the land in the Louisiana Purchase.
We live in a time where almost every day we read and speak of dollars
numbering into the billions and trillions. Most have no idea of what a billion
dollars looks like or what it could buy. To speak of a trillion dollars just means
adding more zeros to an already unbelievable sum. To realize only $12 million
were required to more than double the size of the United States certainly makes
the Louisiana Purchase the greatest land bargain of all time.
All Trew" April
13, 2010 Column
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