Press/Journalists
Press Release
April 25, 2003
National Archives Loans Louisiana Purchase Documents for Bicentennial Celebrations in Five States

Washington, D.C. April 30 marks the bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase, the sweetest real estate deal of the millennium. To help the nation celebrate the anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase, the National Archives has loaned original documents to several sites located in states that were created from that landmark deal. These documents are preserved by the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.

When Robert Livingston and James Monroe reached an agreement with the French to buy the Louisiana territory for $15 million in 1803, the United States acquired land that was eventually carved into 15 states or parts of states. The Louisiana Purchase added 828,000 square miles of land west of the Mississippi River to the United States. For roughly 4 cents an acre, the United States had purchased a territory whose natural resources amounted to a richness beyond anyone's wildest calculations.

The Louisiana Purchase agreement is made up of many documents—some in English, some in French. On April 30, visitors will be able to see exhibitions that include some portion of the Louisiana Purchase at the following sites:

  • Union Station Kansas City, Kansas City, Missouri. Part of the Louisiana Purchase will be on display in the traveling exhibition " American Originals: Treasures from the National Archives" through May 4, 2003. (Information at www.unionstation.org.)


  • Old State Capitol, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A selection of documents related to the Louisiana Purchase, including some parts of the agreement, will be on display through May 15, 2003. (Information at www.louisianapurchase2003.com.)


  • Lyndon Baines Johnson Library, Austin, Texas. Part of the Louisiana Purchase will be on display in the exhibition "Discovering America: The World of Lewis and Clark" through August 3, 2003. (Information at www.lbjlib.utexas.edu.)

The celebration continues from May 2 through May 31 in Arkansas, where the Old State Capitol in Little Rock will feature the Louisiana Purchase and other related documents in an exhibition called "The Louisiana Purchase: From This Point On." (Information at www.lapurchase.org.)

Three documents relating to the financial aspects of the Purchase are currently on loan to the Historic New Orleans Collection. The documents include Thomas Jefferson's warrant to the Secretary of Treasury to issue stock certificates. The exhibition, "Fusion of Nations," is open through May 20, 2003.

In addition, in 2003 "American Originals: Treasures from the National Archives" will also travel to San Antonio, Texas, and Los Angeles. The exhibition, including part of the Louisiana Purchase agreement, will be at the Witte Museum in San Antonio from May 31 through September 1. On October 4 it opens at the Los Angeles Public Library in Los Angeles, where it will be on display through January 4, 2004. From January 30 through May 9, 2004, it will be at the Museum of American Political Life at the University of Hartford. Information about this exhibition is available at www.archives.gov.

The National Archives and Records Administration ensures, for the citizen and the public servant, for the President and the Congress and the Courts, ready access to essential evidence that documents the rights of American citizens, the actions of Federal officials, and the national experience from the nation's beginnings in 1774. Among the records in its holdings are the Charters of Freedom: the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights.

On September 18, 2003, the National Archives will re-open the Rotunda of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, and unveil the newly re-encased Charters of Freedom. For the first time, millions of visitors will be able to view all four pages of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. The renovation of the Rotunda and the newly encased Charters of Freedom are the first steps in a new initiative, known as The National Archives Experience, that will make even more records of the American experience accessible to the public.

For press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs Staff at 301-837-1700.

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