Lesson Plan: The Louisiana Purchase

The Importance of New Orleans

The importance of New Orleans to the early United States is discussed.


In 1803, Thomas Jefferson arranged for the purchase of the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon Bonaparte from France. This purchase was significant in terms of its size as well as its future impact on the United States. This lesson discusses the reasons for the purchase, the territory that was obtained and its impact on slavery and the present day United States.


  • WARM-UP:

    Have the students answer the following questions prior to beginning class.

    • How can countries obtain more territories?

    • Who lived in the area that became the United States?

    Have students view a map of the United States prior to the Louisiana Purchase in a textbook or online. One can be found here.

    Have the students work together in small groups to brainstorm areas of the U.S. that are not included on the map and why those areas could be beneficial to the United States in the early 1800s. As a class, have the students view the video clip about the importance of New Orleans and discuss why the city of New Orleans is importance to the United States in the early 1800s. Review the answers with the class.

    Video Clip- The Importance of New Orleans (:56)


    After viewing and discussing the previous clip, pass out the handout below.

    Handout: Louisiana Purchase (Google Doc)

    Have the students view each of the clips and answer the questions based for each video. Review the answers with the class and correct any misconceptions.

    Video Clip: Paying for the Louisiana Purchase (1:36)

    Video Clip: James Monroe and the Louisiana Purchase (1:36)

    Video Clip: The Louisiana Purchase and Jefferson (5:30)

    Video Clip: Mission of Lewis and Clark Expedition (1:25)

    Video Clip: Lewis and Clark and the Louisiana Purchase (:56)

    Video Clip: The Legacy of the Louisiana Purchase and Slavery (1:05)

    Video Clip: The Geography of the Louisiana Purchase and the Mississippi River (2:20)


    Have the students individually answer the following writing prompt.

    Using examples from the clips and your personal experiences and knowledge, explain the overall importance of the Louisiana Purchase to the success of United States as a country. How might the country be different if the Louisiana Purchase had not happened?


    Review with the class the arguments that the students used in their writing prompt.


    Prediction- Make a prediction about what problems the purchase of the Louisiana Territory might cause for the new country.

    Map It- Print out a blank map of the United States and indicate the areas that were included in the Louisiana Purchase. Map what states and major cities are included in that territory.

    Lewis and Clark Journal- Imagine that you are on the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Select a location on the path that they took and write a journal entry for that location. Research this location and include information about its climate, wildlife and inhabitants.

    Modern Day Purchase- If the United States were to buy a large amount of foreign land like in the Louisiana Purchase today, what would it be and why?

Additional Resources


  • Acre
  • Agriculture
  • Appalachian Mountains
  • Boundaries
  • James Monroe
  • Lewis And Clark
  • Louisiana Purchase
  • Mississippi River
  • Napoleon Bonaparte
  • Native Americans
  • New Orleans
  • Rocky Mountains
  • Slavery
  • Statehood
  • Surveying
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Westward Expansion


GeographyState HistoryU.S. History


Middle SchoolHigh School