Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Today In History: Great Moments In Real Estate History

On this date in 1804, the French flag was lowered in St. Louis, soon-to-be-MO, and the U.S. flag was raised.

The Spanish lieutenant governor for French northern Louisiana handed the keys over to Amos Stoddard, acting as the proxy for the French government, who then handed them to himself, since he was also the newly-appointed U.S. military commander of the territory.

Napoleonic-era geopolitics were nothing if not interesting. See, France had lost the territory to Spain in a war, but Napoleon got it back in exchange for a promise not to kick Spain's ass. However, the deal was all hush-hush, and so the French left the Spanish administration in place so that nobody would suspect anything. Then they went and sold the house with the renters still in it, so to speak. This led to a business boom for surveyors and an honest-to-Spooner strip of ungoverned No-Man's-Land for the next 20 years, as Madrid and Washington argued about on whose side of the property line the hedge was planted.


2yellowdogs said...

And the rest, as they say, is history. Sure, we don't have the best reputation nationally (probably third worst behind Detroit and the mistake by the lake) but that's due in large part to our over-the-river namesake of East St. Louis. Thank you, Illinois, for that wonderful contribution to the metro area.

The STL is a darned nice place to live, though, with reasonable commutes, low cost of living, good gun laws and four actual seasons. Thank you, Predident Jefferson, for laying out the francs and taking a large step toward removing the surrender monkeys from the continent.

global village idiot said...

Another tidbit as to why France sold it to us has to do with disease.

Napoleon was ready to go to war with the United States (of all people!) because of our negotiations with Spain, a readiness he signalled by staging approx. 17,000 soldiers in the West Indies preparatory to an invasion via New Orleans.

He could have picked a better jumping-off point. You see, the West Indies - and the Carribean generally - is home to Yellow Fever and it killed off Napoleon's small New World army nearly to a man. You might say it left Monsieur Bonaparte in a "differently strong" negotiating position and turned the Louisiana Territory into the buyer's market of the century.


Bram said...

Kind of hard for the Frogs and Spaniards to keep out those pesky American trespassers when they are busy fighting against each other, then with each other against the Brits, then against each other again. May as well sell the damn thing.

mostly cajun said...

I live close to the area of which you speak. a lot of the family trees in that area resemble bamboo: no branches.


Chas S. Clifton said...

@global village idiot

Right. The Haitian slaves' rebellion helped secure us the Louisiana Purchase, in a roundabout way.

Baba55 said...

Think about the uproar, the fury that Jefferson would evoke today, what with there being no constitutional authority (what was Al Gores famous quote, about no governing authority?) to acquire territory, not to mention the granting of full citizenship to the residents of Louisiana (save the natives and slaves, er, uh, servants, o' course). Making rules up as he went, even going so far as to oppose some of his earlier espousings. Talk about "theories of strict construction" v. imperial land grab. (see Joe Ellis' work, American Sphynx)

Life's like that.

BobG said...

And during the whole process, the indigenous population is saying "WTF?"...