Three Flags Day

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Three Flags Day commemorates March 9 and 10, 1804, when Spain officially turned over Louisiana Territory to France, which in turn ceded the territory to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase.

The ceremony in St. Louis cleared the way for the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The ceremony was largely ceremonial only because the formal transfer had occurred in November and December 1803 but news of the transfer had not been conveyed up river during winter off-season on the Mississippi River.

Ceremony

On November 30, 1803, Spain formally transferred the territory in a ceremony at Place d'Armes in New Orleans.

On December 17, 1803, New Orleans and the Louisiana Territory were transferred to the United States in a ceremony. However since with navigation on the Mississippi halted because of winter the news was not conveyed to St. Louis.

On March 9 Amos Stoddard (the new United States lieutenant governor for Upper Louisiana) and Meriwether Lewis arrived by boat and were met by the Spanish lieutenant for Upper Louisiana Don Carlos De Hault De Lassus. Lassus said:

People of Upper Louisiana, by order of the king I am now about to surrender this post and its dependencies. The flag which has protected you during nearly 36 years will no longer be seen. The oath you took now ceases to bind. Your faithfulness and courage in upholding it will be remembered forever. From the bottom of my heart I wish you all prosperity.

The Spanish flag was lowered and French flag hoisted to the cheers of the heavily French population of St. Louis. The French flag, which initially supposed to have been lowered at sunset remained under guard all night while the French population celebrated. The next morning the United States flag was hoisted with little ceremony.

This event is sometimes referred to as the "Three Flag Ceremony" or "Ceremony of Three Flags."

References