noun U.S. History.
The purchase by the United States from France of the huge Louisiana Territory in 1803. President Thomas Jefferson ordered the purchase negotiations, fearing that the French, then led by Napoleon, wanted to establish an empire in North America. The French had no such ambitions but were happy to exchange their vast landholdings for cash. The area that they sold, extending from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains, more than doubled the size of the United States.