Can The President Buy Land? | askBAMLand

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Civilians are often curious about the life of the White House. And one of the many questions that we encounter frequently is 'can the president buy land?'

Being the President of the United States comes with a number of responsibilities as well as restrictions. Therefore, people often wonder whether the President can buy personal land property while living in the White House or not. Another side of this question can be whether the President can buy land for the country.

The President can buy land property for himself while living in the White House. He can also buy land for the country from another country after discussion and approval from Congress. There are many examples of such land purchases in history, the biggest of which is the Louisiana purchase.

People have begun to question the authority of the President to buy land for the US, especially after the attempt of Donald Trump to buy Greenland, the largest island in the world. It was a large real estate deal for the US but the offer was rejected by the Danish government.

To prevent confusion, we have clarified both the answers in this regard, that is, the authority of the President to buy personal property or the land for the country. Read more to know about some of the biggest land purchases by the presidents in the history of the US.

Table of Contents

Can the President buy personal property?

Yes! The president has the right to purchase personal property for himself. There's no doubt about it since America is a democratic country that gives basic rights to each and every citizen of it, whether it be the President.

But, even when the President is in power, the government is not responsible for the expenses of his personal land property. He has to pay for the upkeep of the land by himself.

For example; when President Barack Obama bought his Chicago home, he continued to pay the mortgage for his home during his stay in the White House. The president and his family are however not allowed to live in their private residences for about four years.

Can the President buy land for the country?

According to the law, the President himself has no constitutional authority to buy land in order to expand the United States' territory. This is the main reason which also led to the controversy of the Louisiana purchase.

However, it is possible for the President to buy land from another country after he discusses it with Congress and gets the approval of two-thirds of the Senators, as is observed in history.

Examples of land purchases in History

There are many examples in the 245-year history of the United States when the presidents have made considerable land purchases. Some of these famous land purchases are listed below.

The Louisiana purchase

The Louisiana purchase is one of the largest land purchases in the history of the US. It led to a change in the entire economic makeup of the country.

In 1803, Napoleon Bonaparte offered to sell the entire 828,000 square miles of Louisiana territory of France to the United States for $15 million. President Thomas Jefferson agreed to it and bought all the land despite the confrontation from the opposition.

Although it was a great controversy back then, the Louisiana Purchase doubled the territory of the United States. Jefferson was right in his decision that this purchase will have a major impact on the future of the United States.

Arizona and New Mexico

After the end of the Mexican-American War, there was still a conflict between both countries over the claim of Mesilla Valley.

In 1854, the US President, Franklin Pierce, sent the United States minister, James Gadsden, to Mexico. James negotiated with the Mexican president and became successful in the argument by purchasing the land for $10 million.

This 30,000 square miles of land constitutes the parts of present-day Arizona and New Mexico. This purchase reshaped the southern border of the country.


American residents in West Florida claimed independence from Spain in 1810. US President James Madison took advantage of the insurrection to occupy the territory from Mississippi to the Perdido rivers, claiming that it was already included in the Louisiana Purchase.

The Adams-Onís Treaty was signed between the secretary of the state and the Spanish envoy. According to this treaty, Spain handed over West and East Florida to the US for the compensation of $5 million.


In the Crimean War in 1859, Russia was defeated badly after which it offered to sell Alaska. It is because Russia was lacking financially at that time to support the settlements in the area and it became difficult to protect this region from future wars.

In 1867, US President Andrew Johnson signed the treaty with Russia and purchased 1,518,800 square kilometers of the land of Alaska for 7.2 million dollars. This purchase was a beneficial investment that enabled the US to expand its trade up to Asia.


When the Spanish-American War ended, the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1898. According to this treaty, Spain ceded the Philippine Islands. The Philippines was purchased by the United States from Spain for 20 million dollars.

The next year after the purchase, Philippine nationalists rebelled against the US and claimed independence. This led to the beginning of the Philippine-American War which lasted for about three years. Due to the war, the US agreed to the independence of the Philippines. The Philippines got its independence in 1946.

Virgin Islands

The Virgin Islands is a collective name for many islands including Saint Croix, Saint John, Saint Thomas, and many other small islands as well. The total area of the Virgin Islands is about 130 square miles.

The islands were under Danish rule in 1917. During World War I, the United States wanted to improve its military positioning in the area. This is why President Woodrow Wilson signed the treaty and bought the Virgin Islands from Denmark for $25 million.


Brittany Melling

Brittany Melling

Brittany has been in the land business since 2020 when the world was starting to shut down. Since then, we’ve sold to dozens of people from ATV weekend warriors to camping enthusiasts to retired truck drivers. Our inventory spans mostly in the western United States. We’ve been trained by experience, land acquisition courses, and hundreds of hours meeting with county assessors and clerks, zoning officials, realtors, and land investors. We’ve answered hundreds of questions from people regarding the buying and use of land.

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