In a letter written to Robert Livingston, the United States Minister to France, in the spring of 1802, President Thomas Jefferson stressed the importance of not losing control of the Mississippi River and the port city of New Orleans: "Every eye in the U.S. is now fixed on this affair of Louisiana. Perhaps nothing since the Revolutionary War has produced more uneasy sensations throughout the body of the nation."
Recognizing that swift action was required to secure U.S. control over the region, in April 1803, Jefferson dispatched James Monroe as minister extraordinary to France to assist Livingston in negotiating the purchase of New Orleans. When Monroe and Livingston sat down at the bargaining table, to their astonishment, the French offered to sell them Louisiana outright.
On April 30, 1803, France agreed to sell the Louisiana Territory to the United States for $15 million. When Congress approved the deal in the fall of 1803, the United States acquired just more than 827,000 square miles of land to the west of the Mississippi River, effectively doubling the country's size.
Congress established the Territory of Orleans in spring 1805, laying out a framework for government in the region and adding a Delegate to Congress, which effectively paved the way to statehood. These credentials certify the February 1, 1809, election of Julien de Lallande Poydras as the territory’s second Delegate. Poydras was instrumental in Louisiana’s push for statehood, serving as president of the first state constitutional convention.
Almost a decade later, on March 20, 1812, the House passed legislation granting statehood to Louisiana. Although President James Madison signed the bill on April 8, 1812, the state was formally admitted on April 30 to mark the anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase.