The Clinton Presidential Center on Feb. 2 will open a new temporary exhibit featuring three original Louisiana Purchase Treaty documents from the National Archives and Records Administration.
“The Great Expedition: Exploring the Louisiana Purchase and its Impact on Arkansas” will tell the story of the land deal that ultimately created the state of Arkansas, according to a press release from the center. It will be on display through March 4.
The new exhibit is part of the Clinton Center’s Fusion: Arts + Humanities Arkansas program. Now in its second year, Fusion 2018 will focus on the Louisiana Purchase and is supported by the Quapaw Tribe, according to the center.
“The Louisiana Purchase Treaty symbolizes the bold and aspiring spirit of the American people,” archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero said in the press release. “We are pleased to make the Louisiana Purchase Treaty documents available to the American people and hope all that can, will take this opportunity to view this landmark in American history.”
The Clinton Center exhibition will highlight the domestic and international importance of the Louisiana Purchase, which occurred three decades post-independence and doubled the territory of the United States for a cost of less than 3 cents per acre, according to the press release. The territory included today’s Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska, parts of Minnesota and Louisiana west of Mississippi River, in addition to sections of north and northeastern New Mexico, South Dakota, northern Texas, Wyoming, Montana and Colorado.
It will also tell the story of what became known as The Great Expedition, led by scientists William Dunbar and George Hunter through present day northern Louisiana and southern Arkansas, according to the center. While lesser known than the more extensive Louis and Clark Expedition, the accounts of the Dunbar-Hunter expedition – which included descriptions of plant and animal life, soil types, water levels of the Red, Black and Ouachita rivers and the “hot springs” in southwest Arkansas – were the first from the newly purchased Louisiana territory to reach President Thomas Jefferson, according to the center.
“We are delighted to display the original Louisiana Purchase Treaty documents at the Clinton Presidential Center as part of our exhibit, ‘The Great Expedition,’” Stephanie S. Streett, executive director of the Clinton Foundation, said in the release. “Together with our partners, we have curated a one-of-a-kind exhibit that will give guests of all ages an opportunity to see and learn more about this watershed transaction that doubled the size of the United States and changed the course of history.”
“The Great Exhibition: Exploring the Louisiana Purchase and its Impact on Arkansas” will include the following objects.
- The American original of the treaty between the United States of America and the French Republic, ceding the province of Louisiana to the United States, signed for the U.S. by Robert Livingston and James Monroe, and for the French by Finance Minister François de Barbé-Marbois.
- The exchange copy of the convention for payment of sums due to U.S. citizens signed by future French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.
- The American original of the convention for payment of 60 million francs signed for the U.S. by Robert Livingston and James Monroe, and for the French by Finance Minister François de Barbé-Marbois.
- William Dunbar’s journal, eyeglasses, compass and other objects from the Dunbar-Hunter expedition of Louisiana and Arkansas. These objects are not from the National Archives and instead are on loan from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia.
- Napoleon Bonaparte death mask, on loan from the Tennessee Historical Society Collection at the Tennessee State Museum.
- A portrait of Napoleon by John C. Grimes, also on loan from the Tennessee Historical Society Collection at the Tennessee State Museum.
- The “Aux Arc” keelboat, which is a forty-foot-long replica of the boat used during the Dunbar-Hunter expedition, will be displayed in the Clinton Center’s fountain, on loan from the Early Arkansas Reenactors Association.
- Additional objects on display in the exhibit will be on loan from the Arkansas State Archives, Butler Center for Arkansas Studies and Historic Arkansas Museum.