Largest Land Sales in History

For most of us the largest purchase we will ever make will be our home or apartment, perhaps even a second holiday retreat, be it a beach house or small country property. Others amongst us will become wealthier and aspire to owning their own island or a large real estate portfolio. The scope of corporate property acquisition is larger still, owning tower blocks of apartments or even entire towns. Yet it is countries accessions of swathes of land in the past that have set the records of largest land sales in history and still very much effect the modern world in which we live.

Rivers of gold and silver that flowed from New Spain.

Rivers of gold and silver that flowed from New Spain.

Perhaps the largest of these is was the divide between the Spaniards and the Portuguese. During the 1400’s and 1500’s these two sea faring nations ruled the waves and were exploring the Globe. Once Christopher Columbus returned to Spain Pope Alexander VI and the Catholic Church released Papal Bulls divvying up the New World. Yet these were largely ignored, Spain and Portugal continued hostilities over the division of the New World. On the 7th Of June 1494 a new treaty was signed and ratified by the Pope between the Portuguese and the Spanish. A line was drawn along a meridian 370 Leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands, that’s around 1,000 kilometres due east of Barbados. The treaty effectively gave all the west of South America to the Spanish, leaving what is now Brazil to the Portuguese. Whilst this was not strictly a land sale, it was certainly dividing up a resource of inestimable wealth, that of millions of miles of acreage, not to mention the rivers of gold and silver that flowed from New Spain from docks such as Porto Bello. From the 16th to 18th century Spain accounted for 80% of the worlds precious metal production totalling around one hundred thousand tonnes of gold and Silver. This was a vast property negotiation, the scale of which we have never seen since.

Sweet Home Louisiana.

There have been large land purchases made that have added thousands of hectares at the cost of a few cents per acre. Yet none have been so large as the Louisiana Purchase. Napoleonic France was in financial difficulty due to varying factors, amongst which were regular warring with England and losing control of the slave trade which underpinned most of it’s American initiatives The land it held, some 2,140,000 square kilometres through the centre of the now USA, was at threat by both the British and the fledgling American Nation. Napoleon wanted to wash his hands of the Colonies and get on to fighting old enemy England America and France could not deal directly with each other, as President Thomas Jefferson did not want to be seen by the English funding France against them in an impending war. However it was an English banking firm, Francis Baring and Company that facilitated this gargantuan land sale.  For a princely sum of 15,000,000 Dollars, that included gold bullion, the cancellation of debt and guaranteed bonds America acquired what were to become another 15 states. Napoleon was in such a hurry for his share he agreed to have the remaining bonds, some $7,750,000 worth exchanged less the bank fees of 12.5% netting the bank just under $1,000,000. Not bad payment considering the year was 1802.

Largest Land Sales1

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Thankyou for Reading

Jamie Grant

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