I would postulate that from a strategic view and not just purely from a "Assets in the Land" view, the Louisiana purchase was by far a much more valuable purchase.
In April 11th, 1803 President Thomas Jefferson sent representatives to France to buy the city of New Orleans and perhaps some other lands if France refused to sell the city. A surprised Jefferson was greeted with an offer that was to become the Louisiana Purchase. Nearly doubled the size of the early 1800s United States. It turns out, Jefferson was not actually too sure how much land was being purchased, France was never motivated to survey out where the western border of this land was. France also "sold" new citizens to the US about 100, 000 former French nationals.
The $15 million purchase was financed through Barings Bank, City Of London and Hope & Co., Amsterdam for 20 years, at 6 percent simple interest. The final cost was $23, 527, 872.57. If you take the generally agreed upon western border the purchase encompassed 529, 402, 880 acres, this is about $0.0394 per acre. The 473, 246, 239 acres that compromised the pre 1803 United States could be argued to have cost more per acre when you factor in the cost of the war and other factors.
Just some of what this purchase added:
- Millions of acres of Farm land
- Millions of acres of Homestead land
- Hundreds of thousands of miles of navigable rivers
- Billions of acre feet of Water
- Billions of dollars of Minerals
- Billions of dollars of Timber
- Billions of fish, fowl and animals
One can not undervalue the navigable rivers and the impact they had for distribution in this era, in fact, even today. They are simply priceless and it would be impossible to calculate how much revenue these navigable rivers have generated the United States since 1803. Just about every industry in the United States directly benefited from this.
I suggest that the biggest value was the precipice to create a United States that pushed across to the Pacific ocean, Manifest Destiny. It would simply have been strategically almost insurmountable to have done this any other way, other than through this purchase. Historically no larger mass of land moved so effortlessly with out war or meaningful strife.
The United States could not have sustained the western outposts too much longer if the Purchase would not have been consummated at just the right time. The Louisiana Purchase allowed for the expansion of the United States and indirectly and directly all that we see today in the central and western part of the country.
So I would suggest it would be a rather difficult calculation to factor in just about everything from the Louisiana Purchase brought to the United States in any meaningful way.
Alaska of course has great value to the United States with Petroleum and Minerals being the largest assets. We also paid about half per acre, $0.021 per acre and added 424, 491, 520 acres for $7, 289, 233.
When one looks at all points strategically and factors in the direct and indirect results of both land purchases, I am 100% certain that the Louisiana Purchase is by far the best overall land purchase the United States ever made.