On March 10, 1804, a formal ceremony was held in St. Louis, Missouri, to transfer ownership of the Louisiana Purchase territory from France to the United States. The transaction actually covered France's claim to the region, which totaled 828,000 square miles. France had already turned over control of New Orleans at The Cabildo (government building) in December 1803. Although many considered the purchase unconstitutional, Thomas Jefferson proceeded anyway, to remove France from the region and protect U.S. trade routes via the Mississippi River. The purchase price of the claim, which doubled the size of the United States, was $15 million (50 million francs), including debt cancellation, totaling less than 3 cents per acre. In current dollars, the cost would be roughly $233 million, or less than 42 cents per acre. Jefferson had originally sought the purchase only of New Orleans and adjacent lands.