Wednesday, March 01, 2017

From Louisiana to Rupert's Land

Slate, the American online... What? "Magazine," "newsfeed," whatever -- today has, amid its endless Trump scrutiny, a detailed analysis of, of all things, the Louisiana Purchase: "The True Cost of the Louisiana Purchase" by Robert Lee.

Lee starts with the common-sensical but not so common observation that the United States did not buy the Louisiana Territory from France in 1804
What Thomas Jefferson purchased wasn’t actually a tract of land. It was the imperial rights to that land, almost all of which was still owned, occupied, and ruled by Native Americans. The U.S. paid France $15 million for those rights. It would take more than 150 years and hundreds of lopsided treaties to extinguish Indian title to the same land.
And that's if you can call it extinguished.

The author, a California PhD candidate in history, explores in a lot of detail (for a Slate piece) the number and price of all the acquisitions of title that the United States has made in the Louisiana Purchase territory since 1804.  It's nothing like a fair price, but it's a hell a lot more than the $15 million paid to France.

Consider Canada's acquisition of Rupertsland from the Hudson's Bay Company
Three years after Confederation the government of Canada acquired Rupert's Land from the Company for $1.5-million: the largest real estate transaction (by land area) in the country's history.
says the Canadian Encyclopedia's Ruperts Land article  But Canada only acquired pretty much what the US got from France: "imperial rights" to what was still the territory of the First Nations.  Hence all those numbered treaties that followed.

I wonder if anyone has tried for Rupert's Land what Lee attempts for the Louisiana Purchase: a tally of all the money spent trying to acquire Crown title after the initial purchase?

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