- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 1, 2003

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Louisiana is having a birthday this year and everyone is welcome to see its birth certificate.
The 200-year-old handwritten document that transferred ownership of the vast Louisiana Territories from France to the United States is on display at the New Orleans Museum of Art.
Seeing it is "astonishing and wonderful," said Seth Reice, an ecology professor at the University of North Carolina who was vacationing in New Orleans. He compared it to viewing the Dead Sea Scrolls in Jerusalem.
The 200th anniversary of the treaty's drafting in English is being celebrated. It was signed May 2, 1803, in Paris, and a version in French was signed two weeks later.
Museums throughout the state have special exhibits open or planned for the yearlong celebration to mark the $15 million purchase of more than 800,000 square miles of territory about 4 cents an acre.
The treaty was drafted by Robert Livingston, President Thomas Jefferson's minister to France, and Napoleon's Minister of the Treasury Francois Marquis de Barbe-Marbois.
The land would eventually be cut into all or part of 15 American states: Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, North Dakota, Texas, South Dakota, New Mexico, Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Colorado and Montana.
The climax of the yearlong celebration will come Dec. 20, the 200th anniversary on which the territory was officially transferred.
The New Orleans Museum of Art, the Old State Capitol Museum and the Historic New Orleans Collection all are showing original documents from the purchase. There are four original copies of the treaty two in Louisiana for the celebration.
"You've seen on television many times when the president signs a bill and he's got a row of pens lined up. It was the same thing with the treaty. They wanted to make sure there were multiple signed copies for each government," said James Sefcik, curator of the Louisiana State Museum.

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