Today in History, October 20: 1803 – The Louisiana Purchase is ratified by the US Senate. When Spain returned the Louisiana territory to France in 1800, President Jefferson became concerned that France would cut off access to New Orleans and sent emissaries to attempt the purchase. Napoleon Bonaparte was cash strapped in the midst of a war with the English, and didn’t want to deal with the far off territories at that point…so he agreed to sell the territory for $15M, or 4 cents per acre. Some members of the Senate actually criticized Jefferson, saying that he had spent a vast sum on a wasteland. Nonetheless, the treaty was ratified and the territory of the United States more than doubled overnight.