Three Flags Day commemorates March 9 and 10, 1804, when Spain officially completed turning over the Louisiana colonial territory to France, who then officially turned over the same lands to the United States, in order to finalize the 1803 Louisiana Purchase.
The ceremony in St. Louis cleared the way for Lewis and Clark to begin their exploration.
France had ruled Louisiana from its founding until the Treaty of Paris (1763) which ended the Seven Years' War (whose North American phase was the French and Indian War), in which treaty Spain received the French land west of the Mississippi River (the "right bank" going downstream) plus New Orleans, and Great Britain received the French lands east of the River (the "left bank") -- which included what had previously been called the Illinois Country or Upper Louisiana.
Spain officially took control of its territory in 1769, when it suppressed the Rebellion of 1768 by area residents who had resisted Spain's assumption of colonial authority in the formerly French domain.
The United States extended its western boundaries to the Mississippi River during the American Revolutionary War, when General George Rogers Clark took possession of the lands east of the Mississippi River which had for some years belonged to Great Britain. American control of the territory which became today's Midwestern states (the former Illinois Country and Ohio Country) was not secure until both the Treaty of Paris (1783) and the Jay Treaty (1794) had been formalized.
On October 1, 1800, Napoleon Bonaparte concluded France's re-acquisition of La Louisiane (Spanish: Luisiana) from Spain, in the Third Treaty of San Ildefonso. However, the treaty was kept secret and Spain continued to administer the territory.
The U.S. and France agreed on April 30, 1803, to the American purchase of Louisiana (which was announced publicly in the United States on July 4). However, the U.S. did not immediately take possession of these lands on the west side of the Mississippi, and Spain continued to administer the territory because it had not yet formally turned it over to France.
After the United States' purchase, Thomas Jefferson announced plans for an exploration of the new territory. Spain, however, prohibited any foreign exploration of its territory. Lewis and Clark were to spend the winter of 1803-04 at Camp Dubois in what was then the Indiana Territory, opposite the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. until the lands had been formally turned over to the United States.
On November 30, 1803, Spain formally transferred the territory in a ceremony at the Cabildo and Plaza de Armas in New Orleans attended by Spanish Governors Juan Manuel de Salcedo and Sebastián Calvo de la Puerta y O'Farrill and new French Governor Pierre Clement de Laussat.
On December 20, 1803, New Orleans and the rest of Louisiana were transferred to the United States in a ceremony with Laussat and incoming United States governor William C.C. Claiborne, with Gen. James Wilkinson in attendance. However, with navigation on the Mississippi halted because of winter, the news was not conveyed to St. Louis.
On March 9, 1804, Amos Stoddard, the new U.S. lieutenant governor for District of Louisiana, and Meriwether Lewis arrived in St. Louis by boat and were met by the Spanish lieutenant for Upper Louisiana, Carlos de Hault de Lassus. Hault de Lassus said:
The Spanish flag was lowered on March 9, and the French flag was hoisted to fly over the city of St. Louis for 24 hours. The French flag, initially supposed to have been lowered at sunset, remained under guard all night.
The next morning, March 10, 1804, the American flag was hoisted. This event is sometimes referred to as the "Three Flag Ceremony" or the "Ceremony of Three Flags."
The Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition of the territory of Louisiana by the United States from France in 1803. In return for fifteen million dollars, or approximately eighteen dollars per square mile, the United States nominally acquired a total of 828,000 sq mi. However, France only controlled a small fraction of this area, with most of it inhabited by American Indians; for the majority of the area, what the United States bought was the "preemptive" right to obtain Indian lands by treaty or by conquest, to the exclusion of other colonial powers. The total cost of all subsequent treaties and financial settlements over the land has been estimated to be around 2.6 billion dollars.
The Territory of Louisiana or Louisiana Territory was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from July 4, 1805, until June 4, 1812, when it was renamed the Missouri Territory. The territory was formed out of the District of Louisiana, which consisted of the portion of the Louisiana Purchase north of the 33rd parallel.
West Florida was a region on the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico that underwent several boundary and sovereignty changes during its history. As its name suggests, it was formed out of the western part of former Spanish Florida, along with lands taken from French Louisiana; Pensacola became West Florida's capital. The colony included about two thirds of what is now the Florida Panhandle, as well as parts of the modern U.S. states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.
The Territory of Orleans or Orleans Territory was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from October 1, 1804, until April 30, 1812, when it was admitted to the Union as the State of Louisiana.
The District of Louisiana, or Louisiana District, was an official, temporary, United States government designation for the portion of the Louisiana Purchase that had not been organized into the Orleans Territory. It officially existed from March 10, 1804, until July 4, 1805, when it was incorporated as the Louisiana Territory.
The Illinois Country — sometimes referred to as Upper Louisiana — was a vast region of New France claimed in the 1600s in what is now the Midwestern United States. While these names generally referred to the entire Upper Mississippi River watershed, French colonial settlement was concentrated along the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers in what is now the U.S. states of Illinois and Missouri, with outposts in Indiana. Explored in 1673 from Green Bay to the Arkansas River by the Canadien expedition of Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette, the area was claimed by France. It was settled primarily from the Pays d'en Haut in the context of the fur trade. Over time, the fur trade took some French to the far reaches of the Rocky Mountains, especially along the branches of the broad Missouri River valley. The French name, Pays des Illinois, means "Land of the Illinois [plural]" and is a reference to the Illinois Confederation, a group of related Algonquian native peoples.
William Charles Cole Claiborne was an American politician, best known as the first non-colonial Governor of Louisiana. He also has the distinction of possibly being the youngest member of the United States Congress in U.S. history, although reliable sources differ about his age.
The Neutral Ground was a disputed area between Spanish Texas and the United States' newly acquired Louisiana Purchase. Local officers of Spain and the United States agreed to leave the Neutral Ground temporarily outside the jurisdiction of either country. The area, now in western Louisiana, had neutral status from 1806 to 1821.
Louisiana or French Louisiana was an administrative district of New France. Under French control 1682 to 1769 and 1801 (nominally) to 1803, the area was named in honor of King Louis XIV, by French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle. It originally covered an expansive territory that included most of the drainage basin of the Mississippi River and stretched from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico and from the Appalachian Mountains to the Rocky Mountains.
The Republic of West Florida was a short-lived republic in the western region of Spanish West Florida for just over two and a half months during 1810. It was annexed and occupied by the United States later in 1810 and subsequently became part of eastern Louisiana.
The West Florida Controversy included two border disputes that involved Spain and the United States in relation to the region known as West Florida over a period of 37 years. The first dispute commenced immediately after Spain received the colonies of West and East Florida from the Kingdom of Great Britain following the American Revolutionary War. Initial disagreements were settled with Pinckney's Treaty of 1795.
Jean Étienne de Boré was a Creole French planter, born in Kaskaskia, Illinois Country, who was known for producing the first granulated sugar in Louisiana. At the time, the area was under Spanish rule. His innovation made sugar cane profitable as a commodity crop and planters began to cultivate it in quantity. He owned a large plantation upriver from New Orleans. De Boré's plantation was annexed to the city of New Orleans in 1870, and is now the site of Audubon Park, Tulane University, and Audubon Zoo.
Pierre Augustin Charles Bourguignon Derbigny was the sixth Governor of Louisiana. Born in 1769, at Laon, France, the eldest son of Augustin Bourguignon d'Herbigny who was President of the Directoire de l'Aisne and Mayor of Laon, and Louise Angélique Blondela.
The Rebellion of 1768, also known as the Revolt of 1768 or the Creole Revolt, was an unsuccessful attempt by the Creole elite of New Orleans, along with nearby German settlers, to reverse the transfer of the French Louisiana Territory to Spain, as had been stipulated in the 1762 Treaty of Fontainebleau.
Spanish Louisiana was a governorate and administrative district of the Viceroyalty of New Spain from 1762 to 1801 that consisted of a vast territory in the center of North America encompassing the western basin of the Mississippi River plus New Orleans. The area had originally been claimed and controlled by France, which had named it La Louisiane in honor of King Louis XIV in 1682. Spain secretly acquired the territory from France near the end of the Seven Years' War by the terms of the Treaty of Fontainebleau (1762). The actual transfer of authority was a slow process, and after Spain finally attempted to fully replace French authorities in New Orleans in 1767, French residents staged an uprising which the new Spanish colonial governor did not suppress until 1769. Spain also took possession of the trading post of St. Louis and all of Upper Louisiana in the late 1760s, though there was little Spanish presence in the wide expanses of the "Illinois Country".
Pierre-Clément de Laussat was a French politician, and the 24th Colonial Governor of Louisiana, the last under French rule. He later served as colonial official in Martinique and French Guiana, as well as an administrator in France and Antwerp.
The history of St. Louis, Missouri from 1763 to 1803 was marked by the transfer of French Louisiana to Spanish control, the founding of the city of St. Louis, its slow growth and role in the American Revolution under the rule of the Spanish, the transfer of the area to American control in the Louisiana Purchase, and its steady growth and prominence since then.
Carlos Louis Boucher De Grand Pré was Spanish governor of the Baton Rouge district (1799–1808) and of Spanish West Florida (1805), as well as brevet colonel in the Spanish Army. He also served as lieutenant governor of Red River District and of the Natchez District.
Juan Manuel de Salcedo was the 11th and final governor of Spanish Louisiana, from 1801–1803. He was governor at the time of the cession of the Louisiana territory to France in fulfillment of the terms of the Treaty of San Ildefonso.