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U.S. History/Lousiana Purchase Question


Hi Michael,

Someone was telling me that the gold used to pay for the Lousiana Purchase of 1803 was stolen by pirates while en route to France. However, I cannot find any research or publications indicating this event actually happened.

My question is, was the Lousiana Purchase gold stolen, is this just a conspiracy theory, or is it a lie?

Thank you!

Hi Ben,

I'm not sure where that story came from, but it is not true.

The purchase was for $15 million. $11.25 Million was to be paid in cash, with another $3.75 million in forgiveness of French debt to the US.  The US did not even have $11.25 million in cash on hand at the time though.  The entire federal budget was only a little over $8 million per year.  

The US financed the purchase through several banks in London and Amsterdam.  France received US bonds to be paid over twenty years at 6% interest.  These bonds, in turn where then sold to investors, mostly in Europe. No money or gold ever crossed the Atlantic as part of the purchase, so there wasn't anything for pirates to steal.  

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Michael Troy


I can answer just about any question on early American History. My specialties are the American Revolution through the Civil War/Reconstruction. I also have greater expertise in matters relating to military, political or legal history.


I have lectured at George Washington University regarding the Civil War, as well as several elementary school Civil War demonstrations. I was also a member of a Civil War reenactment group for about 10 years.


J.D. University of Michigan B.A. George Washington University

Awards and Honors
Truman Scholar

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