You are here

Portrait of Robert Livingston, 1800

Portrait - Robert Livingston
New York State Archives, NYSA_A3045-78_A6513
Document Description
Portrait of Robert Livingston by Gilbert Stuart, 1800.
Who decided that the United States would purchase the Louisiana Territory from France?
How much did the United States pay for the Louisiana Territory?
Was this a good purchase? Why or why not?
How might United States history be different if the United States had not bought the Louisiana Territory from France?
What major coastal city did the United States gain with the Louisiana Purchase?
What role did Robert Livingston play in the Louisiana Purchase?
Historical Challenges
Research Robert Livingston. What were some of his major accomplishments?
Interdisciplinary Connections
Adler, David. Picture Book of Lewis and Clark. Holiday House, Inc., May 2003. ISBN: 0823417956
Randsom, Candice. Lewis and Clark (History Maker Bios Series). July 2002. ISBN: 0760733902
Myers, Laurie. Lewis and Clark and Me: A Dog's Tale. Henry Holt & Company, Incorporated, August 2002. ISBN: 0805063684

Historical Context
The Louisiana Purchase has been called the greatest real estate venture in history. On April 30, 1803, the United States acquired from France 828,000 square miles of land west of the Mississippi River. This land stretched north from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada and west from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains. This new land nearly doubled the size of the United States!

France, led by Napoleon Bonaparte, was ready to sell the land. The French were on the brink of war with Britain and needed money for the war. The French were not willing to spare troops to guard the vast wilderness, and they did not see any use for this land. President Thomas Jefferson was thrilled at the Frenchmen’s willingness to sell the land, but suspected a trick so he sent two negotiators, Robert Livingston and James Monroe, to Paris to negotiate the deal. Although the Unites States initially offered $2 million for the land, the French asked for $15 million. Although this seems like an enormous amount of money, the United States jumped at the chance for this investment because it was a bargain. The United States paid $11,250,000 directly to France; the remainding $3,750,000 the French owed the United States anyway, so they agreed to cancel the debt.

Essential Question
How do individuals influence national and global events?
Check for Understanding
Describe the individual in the portrait and explain the role of Robert Livingston in westward expansion.