These days, nearly everyone feels the need to own a home–the bigger the better. We often feel a sense of satisfaction with owning our own plot of land. Despite our feelings of accomplishment when purchasing property, any effort we make is dwarfed by the massive property purchases recorded in history. Today, a land purchase of a few acres seems like quite an investment. When we examine land deals from the days when entire continents were basically up for grabs, it is hard to imagine the scope of such purchases. Although there is the rare, occasional example of a massive private land purchase, deals made by governmental powers take the cake. Check out our list of some of history’s most impressive land deals below.
The Louisiana Purchase
Can you imagine purchasing over 800,000 acres of land? Why not try over 800,000 square miles. That amount of land is almost impossible to visualize. You could drive through Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Montana and only cover part of it. In 1803, the United States government, under President Thomas Jefferson, acquired 828,000 square miles of land from France in the Louisiana Purchase. This deal was one of the greatest land investments in all of recorded history. It covers fifteen current U.S. states and includes a sizeable portion of the country’s geographical territory. The government got the land for quite a steal by forgiving some debt to the war-plagued French empire and paying about three cents per acre for the purchase.
The Alaska Purchase
Only a little over a hundred and fifty years ago, the United States yet again made one of the most impressive land purchases in human history. This time, the U.S. bartered with Russia to secure the land known today as the state of Alaska. If you have ever looked at a map and wondered how the U.S. ended up with a state so far to the north of its contiguous territories, you will be satisfied to learn that cost was a deciding factor. Led by Secretary of State William H. Seward, the government purchased the land from cash-strapped Russia. The buy soon became known as “Seward’s folly” in the U.S. Senate, although the value of the territory was soon realized with a wealth of natural resources, including gold.
Rupert’s Land Act
In 1868, Great Britain moved the authority of the area known as Rupert’s Land to the Dominion of Canada. Yet another mammoth governmental land deal, this one included the massive area covered by the Hudson Bay drainage basin. This original land in this deal covered parts of modern-day Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, and North Dakota. A purchase of territories and states of any size would rank as supreme in the land purchase history, but we must keep in mind that these states and territories are especially large. This property formerly belonged to the Hudson Bay Company for over two centuries before it became a part of the largest land purchase in the history of Canada.