Historic St. Louis: 250 Years Exploring New Frontiers

An Illustrated history of St. Louis, Missouri, paired with profiles of local companies and organizations that make the city great.

An Illustrated history of St. Louis, Missouri, paired with profiles of local companies and organizations that make the city great.


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ST. LOUIS<br />

<strong>250</strong> <strong>Years</strong> <strong>Exploring</strong> <strong>New</strong> <strong>Frontiers</strong><br />

by J. Frederick Fausz, Ph.D.<br />

A publication of the University of Missouri–<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>

Thank you for your interest in this HPNbooks publication. For more information about other<br />

HPNbooks publications, or information about producing your own book with us, please visit www.hpnbooks.com.


<strong>250</strong> <strong>Years</strong> <strong>Exploring</strong> <strong>New</strong> <strong>Frontiers</strong><br />

by J. Frederick Fausz, Ph.D.<br />

A publication of the<br />

University of Missouri–<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

HPNbooks<br />

A division of Lammert Incorporated<br />

San Antonio, Texas


To the memory of James Neal Primm<br />

and to the UMSL students who inspired us both.<br />

First Edition<br />

Copyright © 2014 HPNbooks<br />

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, without permission in writing<br />

from the publisher. All inquiries should be addressed to HPNbooks, 11535 Galm Road, Suite 101, San Antonio, Texas, 78254. Phone (800) 749-9790, www.hpnbooks.com.<br />

ISBN: 978-1-939300-61-4<br />

Library of Congress Card Catalog Number: 2014938682<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />

2<br />

<strong>Historic</strong> <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>: <strong>250</strong> <strong>Years</strong> <strong>Exploring</strong> <strong>New</strong> <strong>Frontiers</strong><br />

author: J. Frederick Fausz, Ph.D.<br />

contributing writer for sharing the heritage: Joe Goodpasture<br />

HPNbooks<br />

president: Ron Lammert<br />

project managers: Roxanne Landman, Bob Sadoski,<br />

Larry Sunderland, Michael Swengrosh<br />

administration: Donna M. Mata, Melissa G. Quinn<br />

book sales: Dee <strong>St</strong>eidle<br />

production: Colin Hart, Evelyn Hart, Glenda Tarazon Krouse,<br />

Christopher Mitchell, Tony Quinn


5 INTRODUCTION by UMSL Chancellor Thomas F. George<br />

6 FOREWORD Reflections by <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Mayor Francis G. Slay<br />

7 PROLOGUE <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>: Where the Past is Present for the Future<br />

12 CHAPTER 1 <strong>Exploring</strong> the Confluence of Cultures and Rivers<br />

32 CHAPTER 2 <strong>Exploring</strong> <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> as Capital of the American West<br />

49 CHAPTER 3 <strong>Exploring</strong> a <strong>St</strong>eamboat City of Expanding Commerce<br />

80 CHAPTER 4 <strong>Exploring</strong> the World’s Fair City in a Railroad Era<br />

106 CHAPTER 5 <strong>Exploring</strong> Urban Challenges in an Automobile Age<br />

142 EPILOGUE Inspiring Community Spirit in the <strong>New</strong> Millennium<br />


310 SPONSORS<br />


C O N T E N T S<br />


<strong>St</strong>atue of King <strong>Louis</strong> IX of France.<br />

Known as the Apotheosis of Saint <strong>Louis</strong>,<br />

the statue by Charles H. Niehaus was<br />

unveiled at the 1904 World’s Fair.<br />

Two years later, the city had it cast in<br />

bronze and placed in front of the Saint<br />

<strong>Louis</strong> Art Museum, where it remains a<br />

beloved landmark.<br />


“We shall not cease from exploration,<br />

And the end of all our exploring<br />

Will be to arrive where we started,<br />

And know the place for the first time.”<br />

–<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> native, T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets, “No. 4” (1942).<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />



The history of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> is one of opportunity and dreams coming true.<br />

That’s apparent in the pages of this outstanding book chronicling the birth and<br />

development of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> over the past <strong>250</strong> years. It’s a story of individuals seeking<br />

better lives for themselves and their families. It’s a story of individuals coming<br />

together to create great communities, companies and institutions. It’s our story.<br />

I am especially proud of this publication as the University of Missouri–<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

is a primary sponsor and many of the individuals mentioned in the book have<br />

strong associations with our campus—either as graduates or supporters. I also<br />

was delighted that one of our faculty members, Dr. J Frederick Fausz, oversaw<br />

editorial direction and content creation. He’s a natural storyteller and an<br />

outstanding historian whose knowledge of Western American history makes him<br />

one of our favorite professors.<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> has a rich history. It has experienced much growth and change over<br />

the past <strong>250</strong> years. It has seen success and failure—many times over. For many,<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> was a gateway to somewhere else. For others, like me, it became a home.<br />

I consider us the fortunate ones.<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> will continue to grow and change. And, while I like to read about<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’ rich, historic past, it’s working for a better future that inspires and<br />

excites us at the University of Missouri–<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>.<br />

We’re in the business of making dreams come true.<br />

Thomas F. George<br />

Chancellor<br />

University of Missouri–<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

I N T R O D U C T I O N<br />



Above: Mayor Francis Slay, City of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>.<br />

Below: Official anniversary logo of the<br />

stl<strong>250</strong> Committee; used with permission as a<br />

registered Signature Event.<br />

The brilliance of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s celebration of its <strong>250</strong>th anniversary year is that only the barest<br />

attention is being paid to the actual details of our foundation as a fur trading post by Pierre Laclede<br />

and Auguste Chouteau.<br />

Instead, our civic focus will be on other things: the river itself; the immigrants who found their<br />

way here; the buildings and neighborhoods in which they settled; the churches and civic<br />

cathedrals in which they congregated; the sports they adored; the great public spaces they built;<br />

the foods they popularized; the strength with which they struggled with the injustices of slavery<br />

and segregation, the ravages of Depression; and the mistakes they made.<br />

Like most <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans, I am the descendent of immigrants. I was raised on a block in which<br />

I knew everyone. The Cathedral Basilica of Saint <strong>Louis</strong> is my idea of a church and the Eads is my<br />

idea of a bridge. I have never lived farther than a half mile from a park. I bleed red and blue for<br />

the Cardinals, Blues, and Rams. I have a taste for provel, in quantity.<br />

I have long thought that the Great Divorce of 1876, in which the city of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> separated<br />

itself from <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> County, was our biggest civic misjudgment. From it can be traced the roots<br />

of a dozen other consequences that continue to vex us.<br />

The year in which we celebrate our founding is our most recent best opportunity to reflect<br />

on the courage and ingenuity of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans who faced flood, fire, discrimination, and violence;<br />

kept faith in their home; and built—if not yet a Shining City Upon a Hill, at least a vibrant and<br />

diverse city perched on the bank of a great river, where all are welcome.<br />

–Mayor Francis Slay, City of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />



A C I T Y W H E R E<br />

T H E P A S T I S P R E S E N T F O R T H E F U T U R E<br />

“In joyful homes where the happy dwell,<br />

Where life is in gladness led,<br />

It cometh the heart with sighs to swell,<br />

The memory of the Dead.”<br />

–<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> poet Ethel Grey, The Memory of the Dead, 1850.<br />

In recent years, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> has faced its greatest socio-economic crises since the Great Depression,<br />

with a dramatically diminished population and declining stature among American cities. In a<br />

Time magazine essay on Bastille Day, 2008, David von Drehle wondered if “Poor <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>”—a<br />

“Midwestern city with an Athenian heart”—could ever reclaim the global prestige of 1904,<br />

when it was the only city ever to host a world’s fair and Olympic games simultaneously. Would<br />

retaining local ownership of the iconic Anheuser-Busch Brewery, von Drehle queried, “be enough<br />

to give this city a few more years of dignity”?<br />

The new Saint <strong>Louis</strong> Art Museum East<br />

Building at sunset on June 6, 2013,<br />

reflecting the <strong>St</strong>atue of Saint <strong>Louis</strong>.<br />



P R O L O G U E<br />


The iconic Clydesdales remain a popular<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> treasure. Copyright @ Anheuser-<br />

Busch, LLC. Used with permission of<br />

Anheuser-Busch, LLC. All rights reserved.<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> will never regain the international<br />

acclaim of that spectacular summer over a<br />

century ago, when, as America’s fourth largest<br />

city, with the nation’s biggest brewery, it<br />

welcomed the world as a gracious host.<br />

But it takes more than one event or a<br />

single business to nurture the civic pride<br />

and community spirit that are essential in<br />

determining a city’s true “dignity.” Residents<br />

are the key shapers of urban reputations,<br />

for by embracing and sharing an accurate<br />

knowledge of a city’s entire history, they<br />

create connections through time and well<br />

into the future among all people who<br />

have lived there. That reinforces the reality<br />

that everyone occupies the “same boat” and<br />

must tap all talents and share all sacrifices<br />

to keep the fragile craft of community<br />

from sinking.<br />

Remembering is the greatest honor and<br />

highest compliment that anyone can bestow<br />

on ancestors who created the society we live<br />

in. Respect for the debts owed to that local,<br />

familiar past is why people buy tombstones,<br />

publish obituaries, and name children after<br />

relatives. When a city honors famous citizens<br />

with street names, plaques, or monuments, it<br />

enhances the relevance of history, validating<br />

the shared humanity between the living<br />

and the dead and ensuring that our labors<br />

have created legacies that will last long after<br />

our passing.<br />

The site of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> resembles an<br />

“amphitheater” and on that natural “stage”<br />

our city has played major roles in historical<br />

dramas for two-and-a-half centuries. Only<br />

three dozen U.S. cities are as old as <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>,<br />

and our “City of the Sainted King” has<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


achieved national fame that is deserving of<br />

remembrance, recognition, and respect:<br />

S <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> was the first permanent European<br />

settlement closest to the strategic confluence<br />

of America’s two longest rivers—one<br />

of the best city sites on the continent.<br />

S <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> was the last permanent French<br />

city created in the present limits of the<br />

United <strong>St</strong>ates, and it perpetuated that<br />

special culture following France’s loss of<br />

its American empire in 1763.<br />

S <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> did not displace a Native American<br />

population and pioneered innovative,<br />

alternative frontier policies of peace and<br />

prosperity as a hospitable “Indian capital”<br />

of diplomacy and trade.<br />

S <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> was a true city by design, function,<br />

and significance from its earliest days,<br />

thanks to civic-minded businessmen, whose<br />

profits from global commerce developed<br />

a consumer culture of affluence, civility,<br />

and philanthropy.<br />

S <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> became a “refuge” for French<br />

colonists from all areas of North America;<br />

served as Spain’s northernmost regional<br />

capital in its <strong>New</strong> World empire; and was<br />

the first capital of the American West after<br />

the <strong>Louis</strong>iana Purchase.<br />

S <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> was the last home of the Corps of<br />

Discovery commanders, Meriwether Lewis<br />

and William Clark, and their influence<br />

made the city a “Gateway to the West” for<br />

generations of American entrepreneurs and<br />

European immigrants.<br />

S <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> served as the “Mother City” of<br />

the West, whose citizens promoted many<br />

“daughter settlements” that became future<br />

towns in Missouri and several other states.<br />

S <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> was the Union capital west of<br />

the Mississippi and the only southern<br />

city to support Lincoln, playing key<br />

roles in winning the Civil War and<br />

emancipating slaves.<br />

S <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> was a major commercial hub<br />

of the heartland, connecting eastern,<br />

western, northern, and southern regions<br />

via steamboats and railroads.<br />

S <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> became a large industrial center<br />

and America’s fourth largest city by 1900,<br />

promoted as the possible future capital of<br />

the United <strong>St</strong>ates.<br />

S <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> was a popular destination for<br />

international immigrants and tourists long<br />

before it achieved fame for the World’s Fair<br />

and Olympic Games in 1904.<br />

S <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> has played a major role in aviation<br />

history for over a century, before and<br />

after Charles Lindbergh’s famous transatlantic<br />

flight in a plane named for the city.<br />

S <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> achieved international prominence<br />

for its architecture, represented by the<br />

Eads Bridge, its early skyscrapers, Lambert<br />

Airport Terminal, and the Gateway Arch.<br />

S <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> has been a leading city in proposing<br />

progressive civic solutions to serious<br />

problems of urban decline since 1900.<br />

S <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> has world-class universities, free<br />

cultural institutions, and notable parks,<br />

historic sites, medical facilities, musical<br />

traditions, museums, and research libraries,<br />

with unparalleled archives on the history<br />

of the American West.<br />

S <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> has an incomparable heritage of<br />

baseball excellence, winning eleven World<br />

Series championships as the first National<br />

League city west of the Mississippi.<br />

S <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> has harnessed the potential of<br />

the new millennium most aggressively, by<br />

supporting innovative new businesses,<br />

improving the attractions of inner city living,<br />

revitalizing neighborhoods, expanding job<br />

opportunities, welcoming immigrants, and<br />

creating new options for popular entertainment<br />

and cultural refinement.<br />

That small sample of accomplishments<br />

should provide encouragement to the 3,000,000<br />

people who live in the <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Metropolitan<br />

Map of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, 1892, from Shewey’s<br />

Pictorial <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, Past and Present<br />

(<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, 1892), p. 17.<br />

P R O L O G U E<br />


T H E U N F U L F I L L E D P R O M I S E S<br />

O F A N N I V E R S A R I E S<br />

Major public anniversary celebrations represent the best and worst aspects of history.<br />

They attract broad interest and temporarily make information about the past more popular,<br />

but such popularity often encourages fleeting entertainment over lasting enlightenment<br />

and the marketing of silly souvenirs instead of respect for serious research. Anniversaries<br />

highlight the difference between popular heritage—often flawed personal memories,<br />

mere rumors, and sheer fantasies about the past—and professional history, the disciplined<br />

accumulation of accurate, verifiable evidence about events that no one remembers. The<br />

arrival of the new millennium illustrated those differences. The many millions of people<br />

who participated in that massive global revelry celebrated the wrong year—revealing an<br />

astonishing level of ignorance about chronology in a commemoration that should have<br />

been all about chronology.<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans have long had their own problems with chronology and seem incapable of<br />

reaching a consensus about the correct founding date of their city. The Official Bicentennial<br />

Celebration in 1964 honored the wrong “birth date” of February 14, and it has been<br />

virtually impossible to alter erroneous personal memories with professional research ever<br />

since. A popular publication recently proclaimed that “an actual date of the city’s<br />

founding…is unknown due to the lack of documents from 1764 and inconsistencies of<br />

these papers.” That is a lie fabricated by a PR promoter pretending to know history.<br />

Historians, like lawyers, give far more credence to written records than hearsay<br />

accounts, and the only founding date in a surviving manuscript written by an eyewitness<br />

(the city’s eminent co-founder, Auguste Chouteau) is February 15, 1764, which he<br />

consistently confirmed several times between 1804 and 1825—including testimony<br />

under oath. All of the earliest historians of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> accepted and repeated that date,<br />

and the city’s first official public celebration of its founding was held on Monday,<br />

February 15, 1847. But flawed English translations of Chouteau’s Narrative of the Founding<br />

of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> in 1858 and 1911 misread his “5” for an inaccurate “4”—and all of the leading<br />

city historians in 1964 were too careless to note that discrepancy. That error proliferated<br />

like a computer virus. As more and more citizens celebrated the wrong date in the past<br />

fifty years (unfortunately made more popular due to its association with Valentine’s Day),<br />

flawed memories became resistant to verified, irrefutable evidence from experts.<br />

Once the mistakes of the early translators became widely known, however, all recent<br />

scholarly historians have agreed that February 15 is correct. And national, neutral<br />

commentators cannot fathom the local dispute, as when Charlie Rose on the CBS Morning<br />

<strong>New</strong>s wished <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> a happy birthday on February 15, 2013. Unless <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans stop<br />

trivializing historical dating as a personal whim, they will continue to perpetuate fictitious<br />

heritage instead of factual history. How can we expect young students to respect history if<br />

our most mature citizens disregard that most basic fact about their hometown? And how<br />

many other of our biased beliefs defy accuracy and honesty?<br />

Area, reminding them that human potential<br />

and commercial capital for <strong>250</strong> years have<br />

resolved crises far worse than those of today.<br />

Sadly, however, few residents appreciate those<br />

major milestones of impressive leadership<br />

that stimulated civic loyalty in past generations.<br />

The most relevant, resonating history is<br />

usually local and personal, starting with an<br />

awareness of family genealogy, progressing<br />

to an appreciation of one’s unique neighborhood,<br />

and resulting in a broader, advanced<br />

understanding of the hometown and what it<br />

has contributed to the state, the nation, and<br />

the world.<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


But for decades, public schools have<br />

almost entirely replaced local history with<br />

global “social studies”—while making all<br />

courses dealing with humanity subordinate<br />

to “STEM” subjects (science, technology,<br />

engineering, and math). The failure to excite<br />

young minds about the history of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> is<br />

an inexplicably missed opportunity, since the<br />

city was co-founded by a teenager whose<br />

exciting frontier experiences with French,<br />

Spanish, British, American, and Indian populations<br />

over sixty-five years could serve as an<br />

engaging multicultural “textbook” by themselves.<br />

Reading any history for pleasure and<br />

enlightenment has also declined dramatically<br />

in our era of proliferating electronic devices<br />

and the quick, short, and misspelled text<br />

messages they facilitate. History would probably<br />

be more popular and palatable if it were<br />

marketed as “social networking with the dead.”<br />

History is the memory of an entire society,<br />

and amnesia about the events that predated<br />

one’s birth is akin to the confusion experienced<br />

when someone overhears only a partial<br />

conversation without knowing the topic or<br />

how it began. A knowledge of history is<br />

required for a meaningful patriotism that<br />

goes beyond mere flag-waving, because it<br />

provides details about the sacrifices of<br />

earlier generations in solving social crises.<br />

History also promotes citizenship and a wellfunctioning<br />

democratic government. People<br />

who live only in a self-absorbed present will<br />

never be able to differentiate between old<br />

trends and new ideas, lacking the wisdom of<br />

historical context when they enter the voting<br />

booth with no direction for improving the<br />

future. Finally, an intensive knowledge of the<br />

past is the best preparation for understanding<br />

the present. The study of history requires<br />

broad reading, a commitment to understanding<br />

all sorts of people and their motives for<br />

making decisions in a variety of contexts, and,<br />

especially, a commitment to factual accuracy.<br />

Throughout world history, cities have been<br />

special centers of multicultural convergence,<br />

where a rich mix of intellectual, technological,<br />

political, and commercial “explorers” advanced<br />

progress with new ideas and innovative<br />

solutions. <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> emerged as a great<br />

metropolis because of its urban entrepreneurs.<br />

In every century, its business leaders<br />

have invested in risky enterprises and used<br />

their expertise as political leaders, civic<br />

planners, and generous philanthropists to<br />

improve the lives of fellow citizens. The<br />

organizational profiles in the “Sharing the<br />

Heritage” section showcase the considerable<br />

accomplishments of major corporations,<br />

small businesses, important non-profit<br />

groups, and venerable cultural institutions.<br />

Taken together, their stories serve as an<br />

enduring time capsule of 2014, which future<br />

generations can use to measure the progress<br />

of their ancestral explorers in years to come.<br />

This book chronicles <strong>250</strong> years of the most<br />

significant “explorations”—physical, political,<br />

intellectual, commercial, cultural, and social—<br />

that made the City of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> famous in<br />

American history. The depth of coverage<br />

required, enhanced by a vast number of rare<br />

illustrations, precluded information on events<br />

beyond the city’s boundaries. But everyone<br />

in the entire metropolitan region should recognize<br />

that <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> is a special place where<br />

the past is still present for shaping a future<br />

filled with pride and dignity. What <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>an<br />

William Vincent Byars wrote about his ancestors<br />

over a century ago still holds true today:<br />

Aerial View of the downtown core of<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> on November 19, 2008.<br />




“Their deeds, their thoughts, each brave word bravely said,<br />

Live past the grave and master it, to give<br />

The living help and strength when life is fraught<br />

With sorest need of courage.”<br />

–J. Frederick Fausz<br />

P R O L O G U E<br />

1 1

“Indians live much better than men under tyranny and arbitrary government….<br />

Nature has given them a soul which…condemns dishonesty, petty fraud,<br />

and all…vices which are daily practiced…in refined life.”<br />

–John Dunn Hunter, Osage captive (1823)<br />

C H A P T E R 1<br />



Above: Detail of the Mississippi-Missouri<br />

River Confluence, 1997.<br />




Right: Purported Portrait of Pierre de<br />

Laclede Liguest. The sailing ship in the<br />

background symbolized Laclede’s voyage to<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans in 1755, and his expensive<br />

clothing may have been a family gift to a<br />

second son as he began a commercial career<br />

in America. For the complex details about<br />

Laclede portraiture, see J. Frederick Fausz,<br />

Founding <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>: First City of the<br />

<strong>New</strong> West (Charleston: The History Press,<br />

2011), 207.<br />




While the crusader king, <strong>Louis</strong> IX of France, was killing Muslims in the thirteenth century,<br />

some 10,000 Native Americans were living at the future site of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, then a suburb of the<br />

impressive Mississippian metropolis of Cahokia. Five hundred years later, French colonists<br />

founded the first—and final—town here since those Indian mound-builders. Although they<br />

named it to honor the only French monarch to achieve sainthood, the popular nickname<br />

of “Mound City” was more appropriate, since two dozen of those man-made landmarks gave<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> a distinctive appearance for another century and<br />

imparted a special connection with Indians ever since.<br />

In his 1974 historical novel, Centennial, James Michener<br />

wondered why, of all the frontier towns founded near the<br />

same time, “<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> alone should grow into one of the<br />

world’s great cities.” His answer was “Brains”—referring<br />

to the many wise decisions made by the intelligent,<br />

well-educated city founder, Pierre de Laclede Liguest.<br />

That gentleman merchant was uniquely qualified to be<br />

a successful frontier entrepreneur, city planner, and<br />

Indian diplomat, given his multilingual abilities,<br />

commercial ambitions, military training, and tolerant,<br />

liberal attitudes derived from the French Enlightenment.<br />

Above all, he was an explorer who founded a city<br />

of explorers.<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


W H A T ’ S I N A N A M E ?<br />

Pierre de Laclede Liguest is the full correct name of the founder. As a native of the French<br />

Pyrenees province of Bearn, he learned the local Occitan-Gascon language from infancy and<br />

had to study French as a second (and foreign) language. He never used diacritical marks in<br />

signing his name, and to do so retroactively is inaccurate with regard to proper non-French pronunciation.<br />

In his native dialect, Laclede was pronounced as “Laclayed”—neither the “Lacled” of<br />

proper French nor the anglicized “Lacleed” of the local <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> gas company. Laclede also<br />

insisted on attaching Liguest—a Bearnais word meaning “willow tree(s)”—to his surname,<br />

because as a second son who could not inherit his father’s estate, he was entitled to revenues<br />

from a family forest along the Aspe River. Liguest also functioned like “junior” or “younger”<br />

in distinguishing Pierre from his father of the same name. Liguest appeared only as an addon<br />

to the signature of his surname, and he was always addressed as “Laclede” in conversation.<br />

Laclede was born on November 22, 1729,<br />

into one of the “most distinguished” gentry<br />

families in the beautiful Aspe Valley of<br />

Bearn—a small but fiercely independent<br />

province of “free shepherds” nurtured by<br />

the rugged peaks of the French Pyrenees<br />

along the Spanish border. His surname<br />

means “gate” in the unique Bearnais dialect—<br />

most appropriate for someone who founded<br />

the “Gateway to the West.” His mother,<br />

Magdeleine d’Espoey d’Arance, was a noblewoman,<br />

and his father, Pierre de Laclede, was<br />

a wealthy landowner and university-educated<br />

attorney serving the judicial parliament of<br />

Navarre in the provincial capital of Pau.<br />

Young Pierre was born in a seventeenthcentury<br />

stone mansion at Bedous, then a<br />

village of 2,000 residents. He was remarkably<br />

independent at an early age, since his mother<br />

died when he was only four, after bearing<br />

seven children in seven years—twice delivering<br />

babies only eleven months apart. As a child,<br />

Pierre was tutored in a home filled with books,<br />

cultural refinement, and scholarly conversation,<br />

learning that the sterling reputation of one’s<br />

family was the “truest measure of wealth.”<br />

Above: “Maison Laclede,” the founder’s birth<br />

home in Bedous, remains in use today as a<br />

special holiday rental property.<br />



Below: Panorama of the Monumental<br />

Grandeur of the Mississippi Valley,<br />

by John J. Egan, c. 1850. This portrayal<br />

of Mississippian Indian mounds was one<br />

of twenty-five vignettes in a massive<br />

panoramic painting measuring 7’ high<br />

and nearly 350’ long, recently restored.<br />


ELIZA MCMILLAN TRUST (34:1953).<br />

C H A P T E R 1<br />

1 3

Lush “Garden of Bearn” landscape near<br />

Bedous, 2011.<br />



H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />

14<br />

Generations of Lacledes had enough property<br />

to qualify as landed gentry or even<br />

aristocrats, but they achieved greater local<br />

distinction as industrious and talented public<br />

servants, scholars, physicians, lawyers, merchants,<br />

and priests. Laclede’s paternal grandfather<br />

was a merchant and royal officeholder<br />

under <strong>Louis</strong> XIV, who was respected for his<br />

personal integrity and public generosity.<br />

Pierre’s uncle, Jean Joseph Laclede, was a<br />

celebrated author and close friend of Voltaire,<br />

the famous philosopher. And Pierre’s older<br />

brother, Jean (heir to the family fortune) was<br />

an attorney and pioneering botanist, named<br />

by King <strong>Louis</strong> XV as the “Master of Waters<br />

and Forests in Bearn.”<br />

The Lacledes of Bedous lived in a fertile<br />

farming region known as the “garden of<br />

Bearn,” where numerous conical mounds and<br />

surrounding mountains made the landscape<br />

distinctive. It was a region as productive as<br />

it was picturesque, where the main food<br />

crop was maize, farmed by women as in<br />

Native America. Pierre grew up eating<br />

“Indian corn” and learned how his family’s<br />

water mill operated long before he owned<br />

one in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>. Most importantly, Laclede<br />

lived along rivers his entire life and feared<br />

devastating floods in deep mountain gorges<br />

before he built <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> on a limestone ledge<br />

high above the “American Nile.” His boyhood<br />

also may have influenced his insistence on<br />

living in the first stone home built in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>,<br />

then very rare in that region, because it was<br />

the traditional housing material for all classes<br />

in Bearn.<br />

Six other small villages within a few miles<br />

of Bedous offered additional lessons for a<br />

curious boy. In Accous, the popular pastoral<br />

poet, Cyprien Despourrins, wrote verses<br />

during Laclede’s lifetime that praised poor<br />

shepherds who valued personal pride above<br />

wealth. In Osse, Calvinism had flourished<br />

since the 1500s, and the Catholic Lacledes<br />

were notably tolerant in respecting and<br />

protecting those Protestants during frequent<br />

religious wars. Across the river from Bedous,<br />

the Laclede family forest supplied masts<br />

for the French Navy. Jean-Jacques Blaise<br />

d’Abbadie, a Bearnais nobleman and naval<br />

official, met young Pierre in the 1740s when<br />

he came to select the trees he needed. They<br />

would meet again—in 1763 <strong>New</strong> Orleans—<br />

when d’Abbadie, as the new Director-General<br />

of <strong>Louis</strong>iana, confirmed Laclede’s fur trading<br />

monopoly that helped get <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> started.

As a teenager, Pierre enrolled at the 140-<br />

year-old Jesuit College in Pau, some sixty<br />

miles from his home. There, he marveled at<br />

the magnificent palace of King Henri IV,<br />

a direct descendant of Saint <strong>Louis</strong> and first<br />

monarch of the Bourbon dynasty, who ruled<br />

Bearn prior to reigning over France. Laclede<br />

later moved to Toulouse, attending a military<br />

academy to expand his interests beyond<br />

book-learning. Active and athletic, he was<br />

awarded an ornate sword as a champion<br />

fencer and soon after joined the provincial<br />

militia. Patrolling the high Pyrenees passes<br />

between France and Spain, only thirty miles<br />

from Bedous, Pierre gained proficiency in<br />

Spanish and became a keen observer of<br />

cultural differences in that borderland of<br />

mixed populations.<br />

When he turned twenty-five, Laclede<br />

decided to pursue a merchant career in a<br />

transatlantic world of greater opportunities.<br />

With no prospects of inheriting his father’s<br />

fortune, he became a self-made entrepreneur,<br />

embracing the traditional Bearnais belief that<br />

every man had “wealth and power within<br />

himself,” but only “unremitting activity”<br />

would bring success and satisfaction. On<br />

June 7, 1755, the talented, multilingual<br />

swordsmen sailed from La Rochelle, exchanging<br />

the “grandeur and sublimity” of the<br />

Pyrenees Mountains for the steamy lowlands<br />

of <strong>Louis</strong>iana. Laclede departed from that<br />

port, rather than the closer City of Bordeaux,<br />

because the powerful, Protestant Rasteau<br />

family of La Rochelle had a dominant<br />

economic influence in <strong>New</strong> Orleans. Those<br />

transatlantic merchants were allied with<br />

Laclede’s future business partner and his<br />

attorney in <strong>Louis</strong>iana, and La Rochelle<br />

supplied the merchandise for the expedition<br />

that founded <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>.<br />

Laclede arrived in <strong>New</strong> Orleans as the<br />

French and Indian War began, and he became<br />

Left: The royal palace at Pau, birthplace<br />

and home of King Henri III of Bearn,<br />

who became Henri IV, King of France, as<br />

the first monarch of the Bourbon dynasty.<br />

Laclede studied nearby in the Jesuit<br />

school he founded, and his knowledge that<br />

Henri was a direct descendant of Saint <strong>Louis</strong><br />

may have influenced the naming of his<br />

new settlement; nineteenth-century print in<br />

the author’s collection.<br />

Below: “Plan et Projet de la Nouvelle<br />

Orleans, August 9th, 1763”—dated one day<br />

before Laclede and Chouteau departed on<br />

the voyage to found <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>; nineteenthcentury<br />

facsimile in the author’s collection.<br />

C H A P T E R 1<br />

1 5

Map of French Illinois settlements in the<br />

mid-1760s by British military surveyor/<br />

cartographer Thomas Hutchins; from a<br />

1904 facsimile of his 1778 book in the<br />

author’s collection.<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />

16<br />

a business partner of Colonel Gilbert Antoine<br />

de <strong>St</strong>. Maxent, his commander in the <strong>Louis</strong>iana<br />

Militia. Maxent was a leading merchant and<br />

the government’s supplier of diplomatic<br />

gifts to dozens of allied native nations.<br />

He probably introduced Laclede to his Conti<br />

<strong>St</strong>reet neighbor—Marie Thérèse Bourgeois<br />

Chouteau—whose husband had abandoned<br />

her and their young son, Auguste. Under the<br />

laws of Catholic France, she could neither<br />

divorce an absent husband nor remarry until<br />

his death. Considering herself “widowed,”<br />

she began a twenty-year liaison with Laclede<br />

that produced four children, all baptized with<br />

the Chouteau name for propriety’s sake.<br />

After the fall of Quebec and the surrender<br />

of Montreal, by 1760 <strong>New</strong> Orleans was<br />

France’s last unconquered capital in mainland<br />

North America. Officials there knew that<br />

Great Britain was certain to win the French<br />

and Indian War and control all lands east<br />

of the Mississippi River—including several<br />

French Illinois villages and the administrative<br />

capital at Fort de Chartres. Count Kerlérec,<br />

the Governor-General of <strong>Louis</strong>iana, had built<br />

that huge fortress and installed his brotherin-law,<br />

Major Pierre-Joseph Neyon de Villiers<br />

as Commandant of Illinois. Those two military<br />

heroes, who wore the coveted medal of<br />

the Royal and Military Order of Saint <strong>Louis</strong>,<br />

along with leading <strong>New</strong> Orleans merchants<br />

and Director-General d’Abbadie, planned to<br />

build a new French regional capital on<br />

the west bank of the Mississippi to replace<br />

Fort de Chartres. The company of Maxent and<br />

Laclede received an official six-year monopoly<br />

on the furs of the Upper Mississippi and<br />

Missouri River valleys for privately funding<br />

several public projects at the new settlement.<br />

With a quarter share in that daring venture<br />

1,200 miles upriver, Laclede promoted Indian<br />

trade alliances to obtain the furs that would<br />

alleviate an economic depression in <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans; provided a new home for the<br />

Illinois French who refused to live under<br />

a military occupation by British Protestants;<br />

and protected the trans-Mississippi West<br />

from English invasion.<br />

Laclede headed upriver from <strong>New</strong> Orleans<br />

on August 10, 1763, with his teenaged<br />

stepson, Auguste Chouteau, while pro-French<br />

Indians were still battling British troops in<br />

Pontiac’s War. The partnership of the affluent,<br />

intellectual 34-year-old European and the<br />

poor, barely-educated 14-year-old <strong>Louis</strong>iana<br />

Creole represented a complementary convergence<br />

of different backgrounds and varying<br />

generations that provided unbroken continuity<br />

in the successful development of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> until<br />

Chouteau died sixty-five years later! Those<br />

entrepreneurs did not take other residents of<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans with them as potential settlers,<br />

since the ideal founding families of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

already lived in Illinois—veteran Canadians

and French Creoles acclimated to the region<br />

and used to daily interactions with African<br />

Americans, Indians, and metis in multicultural<br />

frontier communities.<br />

Reaching Illinois in early November after<br />

a voyage of eighty-five days, Laclede and<br />

Chouteau established a temporary home and<br />

company headquarters in the village adjoining<br />

Fort de Chartres. Just a few weeks later,<br />

in bone-chilling December weather, they<br />

explored the west bank of the Mississippi<br />

up to the mouth of the Missouri River,<br />

seeking an ideal site for Laclede’s new<br />

settlement. Fifteen miles south of that<br />

muddy convergence, they spotted a great<br />

mound rising thirty-two feet above a twomile-long<br />

limestone bluff. That strategic,<br />

flood-free site near the confluence of<br />

America’s two longest rivers (and close<br />

to the Illinois and Ohio Rivers, as well)<br />

was ideal for shipping heavy cargoes a<br />

thousand miles in every direction. That<br />

location also contained ample trees and<br />

abundant limestone for building, fresh<br />

water springs, and an extensive prairie<br />

for farming and pasturing livestock.<br />

Additional geological gifts nearby—salt<br />

for preserving animal skins, lead for<br />

making musket balls, iron for forging<br />

tools, surface coal for fuel, extensive clay<br />

pits for brick-making, and huge caves for<br />

cold storage—made Laclede’s location<br />

the best on the continent for contented<br />

residents pursuing large-scale, longrange<br />

fur trading. Such incomparable<br />

natural advantages allegedly caused<br />

Laclede to declare that his town “might<br />

eventually become one of the finest<br />

cities in America,” with the commercial<br />

clout and central location for “creating<br />

[other] settlements.”<br />

The most indispensable resource,<br />

however, was human: talented and loyal<br />

Osage hunters eager to trade for desirable<br />

European products of metal, cloth, and<br />

glass. Laclede could not have started or<br />

sustained a fur trade without a critical<br />

commercial alliance with that cooperative<br />

native nation. Long renowned by<br />

French Canadians as the “Masters of the<br />

Hunting Country” west of the Mississippi<br />

River, some 10,000 Osages possessed a huge<br />

animal empire of 100,000 square miles; a<br />

superior fighting force of some 2,000 mounted<br />

warriors to defend it; and expertise in procuring<br />

and processing all of the marketable mammals<br />

most desired in Europe. Historian Kathleen<br />

DuVal observed that the Osages were “far<br />

more successful than either France or Spain at<br />

building a mid-continental empire,” which<br />

encompassed most of present-day Missouri<br />

and large portions of Kansas, Oklahoma, and<br />

Above: The Big or Great Mound—<br />

La Grange de Terre (“barn of the<br />

earth”)—photographed by <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>an<br />

Thomas M. Easterly in the 1860s before<br />

it was destroyed.<br />



Below: Osage Warrior, painted from life<br />

in 1806 by Charles Balthazar Julien Févret<br />

de Saint-Mémin when this Indian visited<br />

President Jefferson in Washington, D.C.<br />

He wears a “crown” of vulture beaks and<br />

a deer-and-porcupine quill “roach,”<br />

but his other adornments were imported<br />

trade goods: the metal armband and brooch<br />

around his ear, Delft spotted beads, a long<br />

white “hair pipe” of French porcelain, black<br />

silk from Detroit, and red vermilion body<br />

paint from China. In addition, European<br />

razors, knives, and scissors would have<br />

allowed him to remove all body hair<br />

(including eyebrows), as was traditional<br />

with Osage warriors.<br />


C H A P T E R 1<br />

1 7

Above: Laclede Landing at Present Site<br />

of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> (detail), by Oscar Edward<br />

Berninghaus, c. 1914.<br />



Below: Vincent Voiture [posing as]<br />

Saint <strong>Louis</strong>, by French painter Philippe<br />

de Champaigne, mid-seventeenth-century.<br />

Poet Voiture portrayed <strong>Louis</strong> IX, featuring<br />

items associated with the thirteenth-century<br />

crusading king: royal crown, fleur-de-lis<br />

scepter, ermine skin mantle, and Jesus<br />

Christ’s crown of thorns, remnants of which<br />

<strong>Louis</strong> allegedly brought from the Holy Land.<br />


FRIENDS FUND (719:1961).<br />

Arkansas. Thomas Jefferson and other credible<br />

eyewitnesses described Osage warriors as<br />

“most gigantic”—averaging about 6’6” in<br />

height. They were ruthless foes of rival tribes<br />

but reliable friends of the French, who made<br />

them “free men” able to make a living by<br />

providing European muskets over several<br />

decades. In 1725, an Osage chief was the<br />

honored guest of King <strong>Louis</strong> XV—Onontio,<br />

the “Great Father” in France—and his visit to<br />

the “other side of the sun” represented the<br />

mutual respect among devoted allies.<br />

The French and Indian War had curtailed<br />

shipments of new weapons, however, and the<br />

Osages welcomed Laclede because he could<br />

export their backlog of valuable furs to the<br />

best markets for guns and other premium<br />

products. That European gentleman with business<br />

acumen—a rare founder of a colonial<br />

American city who was not a nobleman, missionary,<br />

military leader, or buckskin-wearing<br />

hunter—succeeded in forging one of the<br />

longest, strongest, and most lucrative multi-<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


ethnic commercial alliances ever. Fur trading<br />

was the only frontier enterprise that united<br />

Indians and Europeans in a mutually-desired<br />

peaceful partnership. Colonial <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans were<br />

richly rewarded for befriending the Osages,<br />

earning their trust, valuing their talents,<br />

supplying their needs, and protecting their<br />

lands, liberties, and life-ways from hostile<br />

competitors that threatened financial ruin<br />

for everyone. The “English, Anglo-Americans,<br />

and Spanish nations have succeeded only in<br />

inspiring fear and alienation” among Indians,<br />

wrote a Parisian visiting Missouri in 1800,<br />

while the French nurtured their “affection.”<br />

Their “proximity to the Indians, the ease of<br />

communicating with them, [and] the need to<br />

…live in their villages in order to trade…<br />

had no small influence on the character of<br />

the colonists.”<br />

“Towns were the spearheads of the frontier,”<br />

wrote historian Richard Wade, and the “story<br />

of Western urbanism begins at <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>.”<br />

But Laclede and Chouteau were successful<br />

city founders because they recognized that<br />

“Western urbanism” really began with Indian<br />

mound-builders and that Native American<br />

towns were the sustaining sources of economic<br />

development before Europeans ever arrived.<br />

When Chouteau and thirty laborers from<br />

Illinois began building <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> on Wednesday,<br />

February 15, 1764, they did not displace any<br />

resident Indians. But the Osages identified<br />

with the familiar, welcoming symbolism of the<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> site because of the many Mississippian<br />

mounds. The Osages were known as “elevated<br />

mound people” and lived on high hilltops at<br />

their capital of Marais des Cygnes (“Swamp of<br />

Swans”) in southwestern Missouri. Claiming<br />

cultural connections with ancient moundbuilding<br />

societies, the Osage Nation in 2009<br />

purchased “Sugar Loaf” on Ohio Avenue—the<br />

last surviving Indian mound in the city limits<br />

of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>—as the future site of an interpretive<br />

center about their heritage.<br />

The ambitious new town that was taking<br />

shape on a strategic section of the mighty<br />

Mississippi did not have a name for three<br />

months. While Chouteau’s construction crew<br />

cleared the land, Laclede had stayed in Illinois<br />

protecting his merchandise and recruiting<br />

new settlers. But he returned in the Spring,<br />

and according to Chouteau’s written recollections,<br />

on or near April 25, 1764—the 550th<br />

birthday of Saint <strong>Louis</strong>—Laclede named his<br />

town in honor of that crusading medieval<br />

monarch. The forty-three-year reign of<br />

King <strong>Louis</strong> IX was a golden age of art and<br />

architecture, education and charity, but Pope<br />

Boniface VIII canonized him because he led<br />

two crusades in the Holy Land and died there<br />

on August 25, 1270 (his Feast Day). Laclede<br />

hoped to flatter the current King <strong>Louis</strong> XV<br />

by honoring his patron saint, even though<br />

the medieval monarch’s killing of cultural<br />

aliens was incompatible with the goals of his<br />

namesake town in America.<br />

But Laclede wasted that self-serving<br />

compliment to the reigning French monarch<br />

because he had given western <strong>Louis</strong>iana,<br />

including the site of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, to his Bourbon<br />

cousin, King Carlos III of Spain, in November<br />

1762. The transaction was so secret that not<br />

even royal officials in <strong>New</strong> Orleans knew of<br />

it for twenty-two months, and <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans<br />

only learned about that shocking situation in<br />

December 1764. Realizing that the Kingdom<br />

of France did not now protect its countrymen<br />

on either side of the Mississippi River, the<br />

twice-“orphaned” Illinois French reconciled<br />

themselves to the fact that <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> was built<br />

International boundaries following the<br />

French and Indian War, showing <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

in an imperial setting. “File: North America,<br />

1762-83” created by Jon Platek in 2008 and<br />

reproduced under the free use policy of<br />

Wikimedia Commons.<br />

C H A P T E R 1<br />

1 9

First <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Courthouse, built in 1770<br />

and used for a century; shown here in the<br />

1890s at Third and Plum <strong>St</strong>reets. Typical<br />

of most buildings in eighteenth-century<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> was Colonial French vertical log<br />

construction clearly seen here. Logs were<br />

hewn flat and either set directly in the<br />

ground or placed on sills. The spaces<br />

between the timbers were filled with clay<br />

and grass (bouzillage) or rubble stone and<br />

clay (pierrotage). Flat boards could then<br />

be applied, but most residences would be<br />

plastered and whitewashed, giving a more<br />

refined appearance for town living than the<br />

crude, horizontal-log cabins of frontier<br />

Americans in a forest.<br />


on a legal bluff more gigantic than the city’s<br />

limestone one, and that they had to rely on<br />

one another to protect their property and<br />

livelihoods. <strong>New</strong> settlers continued to arrive<br />

steadily until late 1765, after Great Britain’s<br />

“Black Watch” regiment had reached Fort<br />

de Chartres. For almost two years, dozens of<br />

French Illinois families had dismantled their<br />

houses, salvaging “the boards, windows, and<br />

door frames, and everything else they could<br />

transport” and crossed the international<br />

boundary line of the Mississippi River to<br />

begin new lives in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>. They brought<br />

something much more valuable than building<br />

materials—a heritage of multiethnic toleration<br />

living in racially-mixed societies.<br />

The “sensible and clever” Laclede was<br />

a pragmatic problem-solver who fashioned<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> into a true city by design, function,<br />

and significance, despite its small population.<br />

He laid out streets on a grid pattern like <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans, already conceiving his city as a thriving<br />

port serving a vast inland empire. By<br />

investing heavily in a grist mill and other<br />

buildings for the benefit of the community,<br />

Laclede enhanced the reputation of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

as imaginatively conceived, innovatively<br />

developed, and immediately populated.<br />

But Laclede’s greatest legacy was encouraging<br />

his colonists, who already lived on free<br />

riverfront home sites, to govern themselves.<br />

The first Spanish lieutenant governor would<br />

not take up permanent residency in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

until late 1770, giving Laclede’s colonists six<br />

years to design the society they desired—<br />

without an intrusive national government,<br />

a meddlesome local bureaucracy, a coercive<br />

military, or judgmental priests. As perhaps the<br />

freest European population anywhere in<br />

North America, early <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans enjoyed<br />

unprecedented liberties, self-governance, and<br />

financial success, without the need for a<br />

constitution, a legislature, an army, police,<br />

judges, juries, jails, or lawyers to live<br />

comfortably, safely, and compatibly in Indian<br />

Country. The customary laws of Paris,<br />

Catholic teachings, peer pressure from closeknit<br />

families, and Creole traditions of neighborliness<br />

and camaraderie restrained serious<br />

violence among liquor-loving residents who<br />

built billiard parlors many years before they<br />

constructed a church.<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


S T . L O U I S ’ S F O U N D I N G F A M I L I E S<br />

Beaugenou<br />

Becquet/Bequette<br />

Chancellier<br />

Chouteau<br />

Cotté<br />

Delin<br />

Dodier<br />

Gamache<br />

Hervieux<br />

Kierserau/Kiercerau dit (“known as”) Renaud<br />

Labrosse<br />

Laclede<br />

La Grain/La Grange<br />

Mainville dit Dechenes<br />

Marcheteau dit Desnoyers<br />

Martiqné/Martigny<br />

Mercier<br />

Picard<br />

Pichet<br />

Pothier<br />

Prunet dit La Giroflee<br />

Ride<br />

Rivière dit Bacuné<br />

Roi<br />

Salé dit La Joie<br />

Taillon/Tayon<br />

Laclede’s colonists maintained good relations<br />

with, and were actually protected by,<br />

some of the most feared Indian warriors<br />

in the West, because they were business<br />

partners who rejected the punitive European<br />

heritage of military conquest and coerced<br />

conversion of native nations. Created solely<br />

to make money, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> represented an<br />

admirable, alternative western frontier of<br />

tolerant trade and tender ties with friendly<br />

“savages” in a civilized “wilderness” more<br />

profitable than dangerous. Even the town’s<br />

derogatory nickname of “Pain Court” (“meager<br />

bread”) became a badge of honor, since<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans chose to cultivate good relations<br />

with Indians rather than to cultivate native<br />

lands that produced conflict and intruded on<br />

animal habitats. While farming gave the<br />

colonists “little or no gain,” commerce made<br />

“them rich”—but also dependent upon<br />

Indian hunters for the type, size, condition,<br />

and timely delivery of fur harvests.<br />

French residents and Spanish rulers used<br />

to different monarchs decided to respect a<br />

single king—the fur trade. As early as 1766,<br />

rival British merchants complained that<br />

Laclede’s town already dominated the “whole<br />

trade of the Missouri, of the Mississippi<br />

northwards, and of the Indian Nations near<br />

Lake Michigan”—far exceeding the profits<br />

expected by the <strong>New</strong> Orleans planners.<br />

Demonstrating the value of the Missouri<br />

Valley that the royal courts of Europe had<br />

discounted, the Osages and other Indians<br />

supplied Laclede with 625,000 pounds of<br />

furs between 1772-1775, including 215,000<br />

pounds of shaved, brain-tanned deer leather<br />

expertly manufactured by Osage women and<br />

<strong>St</strong>atue of Laclede by Jonathan Scott Hartley,<br />

1904, modeled on facial features of his<br />

nineteenth-century Chouteau descendants.<br />

Described by contemporaries as having a<br />

“commanding presence,” Laclede probably<br />

stood about 5’ 9”—short for Bearn—but a<br />

height that made him up to a foot taller<br />

than most of the French troops stationed at<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans in the mid-eighteenth century.<br />


C H A P T E R 1<br />

2 1

Right: Portrait of York by Michael Haynes<br />

(www.mhaynesart.com); used with<br />

permission of the artist. William Clark’s<br />

slave, York, made vital contributions to the<br />

Corps of Discovery and then spent several<br />

years in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>. The author used this<br />

image to represent African Americans in<br />

colonial <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, both slave and free,<br />

who worked in the fur trade as traders,<br />

voyageurs, or hunters.<br />

Opposite: Furs, Indian weapons, and<br />

European metal imports associated with<br />

French <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s commercial alliances with<br />

native nations; author photograph of objects<br />

in his collection. On the front cloth are an<br />

Indian trade musket and an early version of<br />

the “Missouri War Ax,” both from<br />

the 1790s.<br />

133,000 pounds of raw skins. Everyone knew<br />

that the Osages were the true “bankers” of<br />

the region, because their “buck”-skins served<br />

as <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s currency for decades. Until the<br />

<strong>Louis</strong>iana Purchase in 1803, the <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

fur trade averaged $220,000 per year in<br />

wholesale prices (half of the London retail<br />

price and equal to many millions today),<br />

with profit margins reaching 80 percent.<br />

The governor in <strong>New</strong> Orleans compared<br />

such vast wealth from furs to the gold and<br />

silver mines of Spanish America and declared<br />

that <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> was “one of the most populous,<br />

extensive, well-managed, and respectable of<br />

all settlements that have been established.”<br />

Spanish officials praised French <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

as the most “modern settlement” in all of<br />

<strong>Louis</strong>iana, and they were delighted to discover<br />

that collecting dead mammals was “very<br />

advantageous” in providing full employment;<br />

nurturing “the affection of the natives;” and<br />

preserving “Public Security.” A 1779 military<br />

census revealed that fur trading provided<br />

the sole livelihood for 67 percent of all<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> men—22 merchants, 17 traders,<br />

84 boatmen, and 24 hunters—not including<br />

a silversmith and a tailor who made items<br />

for Indians. Those who profited indirectly<br />

from the Indian trade included two bakers,<br />

two cobblers, a butcher, and a “musician.”<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


The frequent presence of Osage hunterwarriors<br />

was nothing to fear, and since<br />

they preserved the peace and promoted the<br />

prosperity of their <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> partners, the<br />

young frontier town became famous as a most<br />

desirable “refuge of all the French,” especially<br />

those from traditional fur trading regions.<br />

As of 1780, 63 percent of adult males in the<br />

town had been born in Canada (137); 21<br />

percent (46) originated in the “Illinois Country,”<br />

including native-born <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans; and a<br />

surprising 13 percent (29 men) emigrated<br />

from France—including wealthy, well-educated<br />

merchants known to Laclede.<br />

C H A P T E R 1<br />

2 3

A C O L O R F U L C O L O N I A L C A P I T A L<br />

Americans today can appreciate the “modern” racial diversity in eighteenth-century<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, inhabited by people of many hues, multiple heritages, and mixed bloodlines.<br />

In a 1787 Spanish census, analyzed by historian Peter K. Johnson, the small city contained<br />

896 whites, 188 blacks, and 83 “tan or colored” mixed bloods.<br />

A F R I C A N<br />

A M E R I C A N S<br />

One or more highly-respected and talented black pilots skillfully navigated the boat that<br />

brought Laclede and Chouteau from <strong>New</strong> Orleans in 1763, and eight years later, their new<br />

settlement had at least 124 African American slaves (74 males, 50 females)—totaling 25<br />

percent of the population. <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans adhered to the 1724 French Code Noir [“Black Code”],<br />

as liberalized by Spanish officials. Those slave laws were more humane than racial policies<br />

in most Anglo-American colonies. Masters were required to feed and clothe their slaves<br />

properly and to care for those who were old, infirm, or sick. Officials encouraged the<br />

Catholic conversion of blacks and enduring slave marriages. It was illegal to split up slave<br />

spouses and their young children in separate sales. Slaves could attain their freedom, after<br />

which they enjoyed the same rights and privileges of other residents. “Slave tutors” were<br />

automatically considered “freemen.”<br />

Seven African Americans were slain and thirteen captured defending <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> from<br />

the British-Indian attack in May 1780. By 1800 the town had 269 black slaves and 67 free<br />

blacks, up from 37 in only nine years. Free African Americans included Joseph Neptune;<br />

Esther, a former slave who received a Spanish land grant; and the famous Jeanette Forchet,<br />

who owned a house and farm and married two black men, including Valentin, a gunsmith<br />

and Indian trader.<br />

N A T I V E<br />

A M E R I C A N S<br />

Indians from twenty different cultures, including Osages, Pawnees, Sioux, Omahas,<br />

Mesquakis, and at least one Mohawk, also lived in colonial <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>. In 1770 Indians<br />

comprised about 17 percent of the town’s population, with 69 (12 percent) being highlyvalued<br />

household slaves. In the late 1760s and early 1770s, 14 Native American slaves lived<br />

in the Laclede-Chouteau home alone. One of them, Therese, managed Madame Chouteau’s<br />

household for forty-six years before being freed in 1814. According to Johnson, in the<br />

1780s, about 10 percent of European households contained at least one Indian slave, and<br />

at least 15 white men had Indian wives. <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans baptized 103 Native Americans in<br />

the 1770s alone, a third of all Indians baptized there until 1821. Historian Tanis Thorne has<br />

estimated that by 1800, at least one adult in 80 percent of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> households may have<br />

had some Indian ancestry.<br />

As early as 1765, Laclede’s thriving town also<br />

became the mid-continental center of Indian<br />

diplomacy. That coincided with the arrival of<br />

Captain <strong>Louis</strong> Saint Ange de Bellerive, the last<br />

French commander at Fort de Chartres, who<br />

transferred his flag and the last twenty royal<br />

marines to <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> after surrendering that<br />

stone citadel to British troops. A Montreal<br />

native and a close friend of Chief Pontiac, Saint<br />

Ange had vast experience negotiating with<br />

many native nations. As the only French commandant<br />

in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> history, Saint Ange worked<br />

with Laclede to create a hospitable, centrallylocated<br />

site where “red men could walk the<br />

white road” in the “clean earth” of a friendly<br />

village not “dirtied by bloodshed.” In most<br />

years, thirty-two tribes from the Siouan plains,<br />

Caddoan prairies, and Algonquian lakes sent<br />

diplomatic delegations to <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>—and stayed<br />

to shop, drink, and dance with residents—<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


without any serious violence. In 1781, 130<br />

tribes from both sides of the Mississippi<br />

gathered in that “Indian Capital” to discuss the<br />

dire consequences of the successful American<br />

Revolution. In 1769, Saint Ange further solidified<br />

the special, Indian-friendly “spirit of<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>” by retrieving the corpse of Chief<br />

Pontiac, who had been murdered across the<br />

river. He had him buried in a French officer’s<br />

uniform coat under one of today’s major downtown<br />

intersections. That popular legend can<br />

neither be confirmed nor refuted, but it has long<br />

symbolized yet another pro-Indian connection<br />

among early <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans, who like Pontiac,<br />

also hated, defied, and battled the British.<br />

In 1778, Laclede died suddenly and prematurely<br />

at the age of forty-nine. His fortune had<br />

diminished over the years, as he spent large<br />

sums improving his town and loaning money<br />

to residents. But he bequeathed a legacy of<br />

lifelong learning and talented leadership to<br />

his trusted stepson, Auguste Chouteau, and<br />

his only birth son, Jean Pierre Chouteau. With<br />

support from the Osages and two merchant<br />

in-laws from southwestern France—Sylvestre<br />

Labbadie and John Cabanné—the Chouteau<br />

brothers succeeded admirably as Indian traders<br />

and city fathers for decades to come. Auguste<br />

advised his accomplished descendants in the<br />

“Royal Family of the Wilderness” that the<br />

fur trade “requires…a complete knowledge of<br />

Indian customs, characters, habits, ways of<br />

living, [and] hunting, …without which one<br />

will always…fall from errors to errors.”<br />

“Trade Territory of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> in the Late<br />

18th Century,” a map by James B. Musick<br />

in his <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> as a Fortified Town<br />

(self-published, 1941), between pp. 78-79.<br />

Author long deceased and copyright<br />

not renewed.<br />

C H A P T E R 1<br />

2 5

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


L A C L E D E ’ S<br />

B O O K S H E L F<br />

Laclede imparted a legacy of cultural refinement to his little city, derived from his formative<br />

years when Enlightenment rationalism was a dominant influence in France. He was<br />

described as “very well educated,” and he used profits from dead animals to buy books to<br />

satisfy his curious mind. While living in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, he purchased 215 imported volumes in<br />

only fourteen years. His library included an impressive range of subjects: dictionaries in<br />

French, Spanish, and English; French, Spanish, and British histories; military codes and<br />

tactics; French, international, and maritime commerce; business finance and accounting; law<br />

and judicial studies; geography and geometry; theology and philosophy; anatomy, medicine,<br />

and surgery: engineering and hydrology; agronomy and botany; ancient histories of the<br />

Holy Land, Greece, and Rome; biographies of the Roman emperors; classic philosophical<br />

treatises by Bacon, Descartes, Locke, and Rousseau; political commentary by Addison and<br />

<strong>St</strong>eele; a surprisingly large number of plays and dramatic criticism; and a 1751 London<br />

edition of Benjamin Franklin’s Experiments and Observations on Electricity!<br />

The Chouteau brothers faced the most<br />

serious threat to <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> just two years after<br />

Laclede’s death. At the “Battle of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>”<br />

on Friday, May 26, 1780, several hundred<br />

British-led Great Lakes Indians attacked the<br />

town of only 700 people. Suffering casualties<br />

of 7.5 percent (21 residents killed, 7 wounded,<br />

and 25 captured), <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans drove off the<br />

jealous fur rivals to win the westernmost<br />

conflict of the American Revolution for Spain<br />

and its U.S. allies. That victory also prevented<br />

Great Britain from gaining control of the<br />

Mississippi River. With tempers flaring and<br />

spirits undaunted, some 147 French kin and<br />

neighbors, plus dozens of Indian allies,<br />

launched two successful revenge raids against<br />

British outposts along Lake Michigan in the<br />

winter of 1780-1781.<br />

Following its wartime triumphs, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

emerged stronger than ever, enjoying enhanced<br />

prestige and greater prosperity as a maturing<br />

regional capital. By its twenty-fifth birthday<br />

in 1789, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> was the oldest permanent<br />

French town on its original site in Upper<br />

<strong>Louis</strong>iana, thanks to Laclede’s ideal placement<br />

high above the river. The town of <strong>St</strong>e. Genevieve<br />

had been destroyed in the Great Flood of<br />

1785, which forced a total evacuation and<br />

rebuilding miles away. <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> was also<br />

the largest French town in Upper <strong>Louis</strong>iana,<br />

with a population of 1,168 (200 more than<br />

“<strong>New</strong>” <strong>St</strong>e. Genevieve). Its residents were<br />

“more wealthy” than other colonists, living<br />

in “200 Houses, most of…<strong>St</strong>one,” that were<br />

“better built than [at] any Town on the<br />

Mississippi.” Even Anglo-Americans described<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> as “the handsomest and genteelist<br />

village” in Upper <strong>Louis</strong>iana and perhaps “the<br />

happiest on earth.”<br />

Opposite: Vintage volumes and antique<br />

spectacles (Laclede wore glasses in his<br />

later years).<br />



Below: Troops of the Spanish <strong>Louis</strong>iana<br />

Regiment in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, 1804, an<br />

original painting by Michael Haynes<br />

(www.mhaynesart.com) and used with<br />

permission. The captain, sergeant,<br />

drummer, and fusilier (with a 1757 musket)<br />

shown here in uniforms “almost identical to<br />

the way they had looked in 1769”—as well<br />

as 1780, when 34 troops from this regiment<br />

helped militiamen and civilians defend<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> against a British and Indian attack<br />

in “The Battle of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>.”<br />

C H A P T E R 1<br />

2 7

Above: The Mansion of Auguste Chouteau<br />

(c. 1794-1841), the grandest early house<br />

in the West, a view “engraved expressly” for<br />

[Richard] Edwards’s Great West and Her<br />

Commercial Metropolis, Embracing…<br />

A Complete History of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>…<br />

(<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, 1860), 534.<br />

Below: Bourbon <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, with a French<br />

population but a Spanish commandant from<br />

1770 to 1804, is represented by these two<br />

coins from the 1760s—the larger one from<br />

France with the profile of King <strong>Louis</strong> XV,<br />

and the smaller one from Spain, issued<br />

by Carlos III.<br />



H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />

28<br />

In terms of colonial French architecture,<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> by 1795 was older than its mother<br />

city of <strong>New</strong> Orleans, due to two huge fires and<br />

three hurricanes that recently destroyed over<br />

a thousand buildings in the southern capital.<br />

Preserving the style of former French <strong>Louis</strong>iana<br />

plantation homes was the magnificent mansion<br />

of Auguste Chouteau. In the 1790s, he had<br />

thoroughly remodeled and dramatically<br />

expanded the original stone home he had<br />

built for Laclede in 1764. That showpiece of<br />

merchant affluence occupied an entire block in<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s city center, with large dimensions<br />

that were nearly identical to those of George<br />

Washington’s impressive “Mount Vernon.”<br />

Chouteau’s imposing “castle” served as a<br />

community hospitality center for visiting<br />

European nobles, Indian chiefs, and prominent<br />

American dignitaries for decades. The mansion<br />

had floors of black walnut; a crystal chandelier;<br />

a dining room with three large tables, 46 chairs,<br />

40 tablecloths, and 42 pounds of sterling silver<br />

eating utensils; 11 landscape paintings; framed<br />

portraits of Napoleon; a 600-volume library;<br />

and a fancy clock with a bust of Voltaire on top.<br />

Auguste shared the Laclede family’s affinity for<br />

that famous French philosopher, as well as his<br />

stepfather’s commitment to living well.<br />

Chouteau was able to afford that expensive<br />

lifestyle because of vastly increased fur profits<br />

in the 1790s, which the Spanish Bourbon<br />

regime facilitated. In building the trading outpost<br />

of Fort Carondelet (named for the Spanish<br />

governor) exclusively for the Osages in southwestern<br />

Missouri, Auguste and Pierre curtailed<br />

Indian raids on white farms and averted a<br />

Spanish war against their Osage friends and<br />

relatives. As a reward, the Chouteaus received<br />

an eight-year royal monopoly on all Osage furs,<br />

which amounted to nearly 60 percent of the<br />

entire Missouri Valley trade annually. In order<br />

to provide Osage customers and <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> consumers<br />

with luxurious products from London,<br />

the Chouteaus shipped the most expensive furs<br />

up the Illinois River and Lake Michigan to<br />

Michilimackinac. From there, British merchants<br />

took them to Montreal’s coffee house auctions.

Thanks to lax Spanish enforcement of<br />

smuggling laws, in 1794 alone the Chouteaus<br />

brought their Indian allies dozens of new<br />

muskets, 10,000 European-knapped gunflints,<br />

2,160 knives, 2,160 awls, 4,300 rings,<br />

70,000 trade beads, 670 virgin wool blankets,<br />

and 200 pounds of vermilion (mercuric<br />

sulfide red body pigment). <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans<br />

enjoyed 2,000 pounds of Canadian maple<br />

sugar, 30 gallons of rum, 27 gallons of<br />

Madeira wine, 50 pounds of chocolate,<br />

30 pounds of Chinese tea, 108 pairs of<br />

Moroccan leather shoes; silk stockings;<br />

and fancy cloth products made in England,<br />

Ireland, Russia, Holland, and India. Pierre<br />

Chouteau purchased a custom-made saddle<br />

from Sam Beazley of London, with tacking,<br />

stirrups, and his initials all in sterling silver.<br />

The Chouteau brothers were true internationalists<br />

well in advance of modern globalization.<br />

Those French Creoles living under<br />

a Spanish flag used a German agent in<br />

London to procure trade goods from Europe<br />

and Asia; had them shipped to Scottish,<br />

Irish, Jewish, English, and French merchants<br />

in Canada; transported those cargoes to<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> by Algonquian birch-bark canoes;<br />

and engaged traders and voyageurs from<br />

many ethnic origins to deliver imported<br />

merchandise to a vast variety of native<br />

nations up to a thousand miles from<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>. The success of the Chouteaus also<br />

stimulated explorations far up the Missouri<br />

River by envious <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> competitors,<br />

such as Jacques Clamorgan, Manuel Lisa,<br />

James Mackay, and John Evans.<br />

The late 1790s represented the zenith of<br />

Bourbon <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s global commerce, as the<br />

wealth of the world poured into that tiny<br />

town suddenly grown to almost 2,500<br />

residents (a 78 percent increase). Flush<br />

with desirable consumer goods but<br />

needing to buy food for its non-farming<br />

business elites, the capital city of Upper<br />

<strong>Louis</strong>iana resembled the “hub” of a<br />

large wheel, with “spokes” connecting<br />

it to several surrounding agricultural<br />

villages that provided sustenance. The<br />

international fur trade stimulated a<br />

flourishing, diversified regional economy<br />

involving 3,300 residents, who,<br />

F O R E I G N E L I T E S I N A F R O N T I E R C I T Y<br />

“<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> was always remarkable,” observed a nineteenth-century American,<br />

“for the degree of gentility among the better sort of its inhabitants.” Among<br />

European-born notables who settled in late eighteenth-century <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> were:<br />

Gabriel Cerre, a wealthy Montreal-born merchant with London connections.<br />

Jacques Ceran de <strong>St</strong>. Vrain, the merchant brother of the Spanish commandant.<br />

Charles de Hault de Lassus, a Flanders-born Frenchman, who was Spain’s last<br />

Lieutenant Governor of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>.<br />

Pierre Francois de Volsay, Paris-born army officer and member of the Royal and<br />

Military Order of Saint <strong>Louis</strong>.<br />

Father Pierre Joseph Didier, procurator of the Abbey Church of <strong>St</strong>. Denis, Paris.<br />

<strong>Louis</strong> Chauvet Dubreuil, French merchant son of a La Rochelle attorney.<br />

Charles Gratiot, Swiss-born French Huguenot trading with London and Canada.<br />

Joseph Hortiz, a well-educated Spanish native; secretary to lieutenant governors.<br />

Sylvestre Labbadie from Tarbes near Bearn, the richest <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> merchant by 1794.<br />

Marie Philippe Leduc, Paris-born officeholder with extensive legal expertise.<br />

Dr. Claude Mercier, a physician and surgeon from France.<br />

Charles Sanguinet, son of a Quebec notary and avid book collector.<br />

Dr. Antoine Francois Saugrain, a Paris surgeon related to Guillotine who knew<br />

Jefferson and Franklin and introduced smallpox vaccinations in the West.<br />

Antoine Soulard, a French navy veteran and the royal surveyor in Upper <strong>Louis</strong>iana.<br />

Benito Vasquez, an army adjutant and merchant from Galicia, Spain.<br />

Giuseppe Maria Francesco (Francis) Vigo, an Italian-born Spanish fur trader who<br />

helped fund the American Revolutionary expeditions of George Rogers Clark.<br />

in 1796, produced 75,000 bushels of maize,<br />

35,000 bushels of wheat, 25,000 pounds<br />

of tobacco, 219,000 pounds of lead, and<br />

6,000 bushels of salt, while pasturing<br />

4,000 cattle and 600 horses. Laclede’s<br />

original prediction that <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s “central<br />

position” would stimulate other settlements<br />

had come true, and his foresight was<br />

reflected in the late twentieth-century motto<br />

of the Regional Chamber and Growth<br />

Association: “<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, Perfectly Centered,<br />

Remarkably Connected.”<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> in 1796; detail of the map,<br />

“Plan de la Ville de <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Des Illinois,”<br />

by Georges de Maillard de Bois Saint Lys to<br />

accompany the published journals of French<br />

General Victor Collot in that year.<br />



C H A P T E R 1<br />

2 9

L A C L E D E ’ S L A S T I N G L E G A C I E S<br />

He was an entrepreneur and an explorer who made business the priority of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

He co-founded the Chouteau Dynasty that remained influential for many generations<br />

He commanded the expedition that founded <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

He selected an incomparably strategic town site, significant for commerce ever since<br />

He gave his town a name of fame, which has never changed<br />

He laid out a grid system of streets considered “modern” in 1764<br />

He linked the destinies of <strong>New</strong> Orleans and <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> as river capitals<br />

He established a very successful, long-term fur trade for economic stability<br />

He was a master of Indian diplomacy, achieving a key and long-lasting Osage alliance<br />

He created a tolerant, enlightened “Indian Capital” for multi-tribal diplomacy<br />

He helped keep the British out of the trans-Mississippi West<br />

He assisted Spanish officials, earning their trust by speaking their language<br />

He recruited the perfect settlers for a multicultural trading town<br />

He promoted unprecedented freedoms and self-governance among residents<br />

He recruited diverse immigrants, while making <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> a “refuge of all the French”<br />

He promoted French culture, civility, literacy, and affluent consumerism<br />

He made <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> a bookish, intellectual frontier city of great libraries and avid readers<br />

He invested a fortune in city buildings, amenities, merchandise, and loans to residents<br />

He encouraged confidence by his steady, consistent, and rational decision-making<br />

Walnut Armoire made in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>,<br />

c. 1765 to 1790, by Jean Baptiste Ortes<br />

(from Laclede’s hometown of Bedous).<br />



(OBJ:1905 013 0001).<br />

The highly successful boom town of buckskins<br />

disproved the Jeffersonians’ belief that<br />

“primitive” Indian hunting “only afforded a precarious<br />

subsistence” and could never support<br />

a sophisticated society. The alliance between<br />

astute merchants and accomplished Indian<br />

allies had made <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> the most prosperous,<br />

peaceful frontier city in America long before the<br />

<strong>Louis</strong>iana Purchase. That “center of manners,<br />

urbanity, and elegance” supported full employment<br />

and even cultivated “the fine arts,” as<br />

a Parisian intellectual noted. The affluence of<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s consumer society in the last decade of<br />

the eighteenth century challenged the frontier<br />

stereotypes of crude cabins, deficient diets,<br />

and scarce schooling, as increasing numbers of<br />

distinguished Europeans, with excellent educations,<br />

expensive tastes, and enormous talents,<br />

moved to that remote little center of “refinement<br />

and fashion” funded by mammal skins.<br />

Increasing numbers of Anglo-American<br />

backwoodsmen also moved near the <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

area in the late 1700s, including Daniel Boone<br />

and his extended family. They came from a<br />

violent trans-Appalachian frontier that contradicted<br />

the tolerant, Indian-friendly conduct of<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans. Elite French families feared<br />

“brawling” Kentuckians, as “too Numerous<br />

[and] too Lawless…ever to be restrained”—<br />

loathing that “plague of locusts” determined<br />

to “gain all the vast continent occupied by the<br />

Indians.” But Anglo-Americans have always<br />

loved their frontier fighters. A hero-worshipping<br />

writer in 1829 characterized Boone as<br />

one of the prominent “riflemen of the west,<br />

the daring sons of the forest, to whom danger<br />

was sport, hardship was pastime, death was<br />

nothing, and glory everything.” Such mythmaking<br />

has never died. Historian R. Douglas<br />

Hurt recently wrote that Boone “epitomized<br />

the frontiersman” as “an excellent hunter<br />

and trapper,” who led western pioneers to<br />

“a dangerous frontier” and protected them<br />

with “his rifle, courage, and leadership.”<br />

But killing Indians was a cruel and uncreative<br />

solution to intercultural conflicts, compared<br />

to <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s alternative frontier policies<br />

that generated lucrative exports in partnership<br />

with Indians, while never profiting from<br />

genocide. Laclede and other Catholic businessmen<br />

demonstrated all of the capitalistic<br />

achievements erroneously believed to be<br />

exclusive to the “Protestant Ethic.” They also<br />

shared the stereotypical “frontier traits” of<br />

Anglo-Americans—self-reliance, individualism,<br />

and personal freedom—without slaughtering<br />

their native neighbors. Rather than venerating<br />

buckskin-wearing baby-killers of the backwoods<br />

as national heroes, citizens in today’s<br />

complex and increasingly dangerous multicultural<br />

world could learn some lessons<br />

from Laclede. He may have been the ideal<br />

frontiersman, because he promoted interethnic<br />

commerce while rejecting blood-thirsty<br />

prejudices that destroyed Indians and dispossessed<br />

them of their homelands. That talented,<br />

tolerant French explorer was more insightful,<br />

progressive, and compassionate than the<br />

“American heroes” who practiced “wilderness<br />

savagery” from sea to sea. While Americans<br />

then and now have typically ranked the success<br />

of our society based on its victories, colonial<br />

French <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans took a more humane<br />

approach and judged a society by its victims.<br />

While Boone’s brawn epitomized the heritage<br />

of rural Missouri, Laclede’s brain created<br />

a civilized, non-violent, and economically<br />

advanced city in his century that remains a<br />

marvel of creativity and compassion to this day.<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


The 1914 <strong>St</strong>atue of Laclede by George<br />

Julian Zolnay, photographed with the Civil<br />

Courts Building and The Bell Telephone<br />

Building in the background; no date.<br />



C H A P T E R 1<br />

3 1

Detail from the John Mitchell Map of 1755,<br />

one of several versions in the Library of<br />

Congress; pictorial editing of a reprint in the<br />

author’s collection. That British cartographer<br />

anticipated the Paris treaties of 1763, 1783,<br />

and 1803 in which “Greater Virginia”<br />

expanded aggressively westward into<br />

French and Spanish territory according to<br />

its early seventeenth-century sea-to-sea<br />

royal charters.<br />

“The time is not far distant…when the uncultivated wilds of the interior part of the continent,<br />

which is now only inhabited by the tawny sons of the forest, …will be exchanged for…<br />

agriculture…[and] turn those sterile wildernesses into rich, cultivated…fields.”<br />

–American William Fisher, 1812<br />

C H A P T E R 2<br />



On the evening of August 6, 1803, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans received sudden and shocking news when an<br />

American courier arrived from Vincennes and delivered a dispatch to Carlos Dehault Delassus,<br />

the last Spanish lieutenant governor of Upper <strong>Louis</strong>iana. It was a note from General William<br />

Henry Harrison, the Virginia-born governor of the Indiana Territory, announcing “the entire<br />

cession of <strong>New</strong> Orleans and the whole of <strong>Louis</strong>iana to the United <strong>St</strong>ates.” As darkness descended<br />

on that distressful evening, the Chouteau clan feared that their extensive fortune and expansive<br />

family had reached the twilight of their dominance under Bourbon administrators.<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


The bitter disappointment of being sold<br />

to the Americans was considerably magnified<br />

because French <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans had spent<br />

the previous nine months anticipating a<br />

“golden age” of cultural rebirth and expanded<br />

commerce under Emperor Napoleon. He had<br />

reclaimed the <strong>Louis</strong>iana territory from Spain<br />

in 1800, but his ambitious plans for a new<br />

French-American empire were dashed by a<br />

successful slave revolution in Haiti and war<br />

with Great Britain. Those <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans who<br />

remembered being abandoned by France in<br />

1763 especially resented Napoleon’s insincere<br />

“regret” in not reuniting with “those who<br />

have been Frenchmen.” When U.S. officials<br />

replaced the national banners of Spain and<br />

France with the stars and stripes in the March<br />

1804 “Three Flags Ceremony,” it seemed like<br />

a final, bitter surrender to Anglo-Americans.<br />

An eyewitness reported that “the cheers of<br />

the [French] crowd were faint and few, as<br />

many, many of the people shed bitter tears of<br />

regret at being transferred…to a strange<br />

government, with whose manners, habits,<br />

language, and laws they were not familiar.”<br />

It was Captain Amos <strong>St</strong>oddard, the first U.S.<br />

commandant in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>—not Napoleon—<br />

who expressed his delight with <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> in<br />

1804: “The town contains about 200 houses,<br />

mostly very large and built of stone; it is<br />

elevated and healthy, and the people are<br />

rich and hospitable; they live in a style equal<br />

to those in the large seaport towns, and I<br />

find no want of education among them.”<br />

Despite an anti-Indian prejudice that refused<br />

to credit the Osages for <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s success,<br />

<strong>St</strong>oddard predicted that the city would<br />

“soon become a star of no<br />

inconsiderable magnitude in<br />

the American constellation.”<br />

And he was right. Even<br />

though American officials<br />

originally regarded <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans as the most desirable<br />

city in the <strong>Louis</strong>iana Purchase<br />

Territory, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> would<br />

prove far more influential<br />

in developing the potential<br />

of that gift from Napoleon.<br />

The <strong>Louis</strong>iana Purchase<br />

was a transformative event<br />

that quickly revolutionized and completely<br />

traumatized French and Indian populations in<br />

the West. The acquisition and initial, partial<br />

exploration of those 828,000 square miles<br />

Left: Portion of the “Town Layout in 1804,”<br />

by Dr. Robert Moore of the National Park<br />

Service at the Gateway Arch.<br />


Below: Nineteenth-century portrait of<br />

Auguste Chouteau.<br />


ST. LOUIS (1869 001 0001).<br />

C H A P T E R 2<br />

3 3

Meeting the Cajaux, June 8, 1804,<br />

painting by Michael Haynes<br />

(www.mhaynesart.com) and used with<br />

permission. As Lewis and Clark headed up<br />

the Missouri River, they passed several<br />

French fur convoys on their way to <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

in a variety of vessels, including the lashed<br />

together canoes seen here and another boat<br />

paddled by an Indian woman—all loaded<br />

with animal skins from a thousand<br />

miles away.<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />

34<br />

were accomplished by Virginians to benefit<br />

Virginia, which claimed sea-to-sea sovereignty<br />

via royal English charters to the Jamestown<br />

founders. Two centuries of westward expansion<br />

followed, as land-hungry Virginia frontiersmen<br />

invaded Indian homelands and created terrortories<br />

of terrible atrocities to procure the<br />

fresh, fertile lands needed to grow their soildestroying<br />

tobacco. By 1774, Spanish <strong>Louis</strong>iana<br />

was already called the “Western Parts of<br />

Virginia,” and after George Rogers Clark’s<br />

invasion of British Illinois four years later,<br />

there was a “Fort Jefferson” on the Ohio River<br />

and a Randolph County (named for the family<br />

of Jefferson’s mother) across from <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>.<br />

Despite old animosities and continuing<br />

misgivings, Auguste and Pierre Chouteau were<br />

determined to remain rich and relevant by<br />

demonstrating their usefulness to President<br />

Jefferson and his fellow Virginia “Sovereigns<br />

of the Country” who administered <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>.<br />

By 1803, Virginia was being called a “new<br />

Rome.” It was already the largest state in area<br />

(117,000 square miles) and population, with<br />

514,000 whites and 346,000 black slaves,<br />

and its leading aristocratic revolutionaries<br />

were on their way to monopolizing the U.S.<br />

presidency for 32 of the first 36 years of the<br />

new nation.<br />

Accepting the reality that numerical<br />

superiority, military supremacy, and commercial<br />

indispensability had shifted from the Osages<br />

to the Americans, Laclede’s heirs volunteered<br />

their services as city leaders, political advisors,<br />

multilingual diplomats, treaty negotiators,<br />

and liaisons with other French residents.<br />

The potential to exert greater influence on<br />

a grander scale convinced the pragmatic<br />

capitalist, Auguste Chouteau, to write his<br />

famous “Narrative of the Founding of<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>” in 1804—informing U.S. officials<br />

about the indispensable role his founding<br />

family should continue to play. According to<br />

historian Jay Gitlin, those “French founders<br />

are still celebrated today,” because they<br />

literally “earned a place in the city they had<br />

created,” allowing <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> to avoid “the<br />

marginalization that was the fate of other<br />

non-Anglo communities” taken over by the<br />

United <strong>St</strong>ates.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition broke the<br />

ice with formerly resentful French merchants,<br />

who supplied the Corps of Discovery with<br />

several skilled boatmen, essential merchandise,<br />

valuable advice, and even maps of the<br />

Missouri River made a decade earlier. But<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans did not condone the prejudicial<br />

attitudes and hostile actions of the Expedition<br />

commanders toward Indians that reflected<br />

Virginia’s traditional frontier bellicosity. The<br />

Corps of Discovery killed two Indians<br />

and threatened countless others. Lewis<br />

and Clark expected “Father” Jefferson’s<br />

dependent “red children” to “Demean<br />

themselves towards our government”<br />

and “readily yield their exclusive<br />

friendship to those whose Power<br />

they Dread.” Those commanders, who<br />

carried special surveyors’ compasses<br />

that Indians called “land stealers,”<br />

forged the “future path of civilization”<br />

that would all too soon “receive…<br />

the overflowing tide of our own<br />

population.” The one million words<br />

that Lewis and Clark wrote in their<br />

travel journals encouraged generations<br />

of Americans to exploit a future white<br />

West after it was emptied of native<br />

populations and traditions that had<br />

made French <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> so successful.<br />

After traveling over 8,000 miles<br />

in twenty-eight months, the Corps<br />

of Discovery ended triumphantly at<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> on September 23, 1806.<br />

Acknowledging Laclede’s ideal town<br />

location, Lewis and Clark made<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> the first capital of the<br />

American West—and their new home.<br />

Lewis became territorial governor,<br />

while Clark was chief of Indian affairs,<br />

and together they altered the traditional<br />

trade and native relations of French <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>.<br />

Most of present-day Missouri was to be<br />

cleared of Indians to make room for voting<br />

American farmers, while fur trading beyond<br />

its borders was permitted for the time being<br />

with more stringent bureaucratic regulations.<br />

President Jefferson viewed Indian commerce<br />

as a coercive means to deprive native nations<br />

of their homelands. He planned to have<br />

“good and influential” Indians “run into debt”<br />

with white traders, forcing them to surrender<br />

tribal territories to eliminate those obligations.<br />

Once native territories were too small for<br />

productive hunting, Indian males would<br />

have to become “civilized” plow- farmers—or<br />

starve. Historian Woody Holton observed<br />

that Jefferson’s “Empire of Liberty” was<br />

designed to benefit whites, and “there could<br />

be no empire without the extermination of<br />

Indians that blocked its path.”<br />

Lewis and Clark’s revolutionary policies<br />

for the Far West encouraged white trappers<br />

to harvest beavers in the Rocky Mountains—<br />

stealing those valuable resources without<br />

sharing the profits with native hunters. The<br />

Corps commanders had discovered prime<br />

beaver pelts in those high altitudes of the<br />

U.S. West that finally matched the quality of<br />

Canadian ones in northern latitudes, and<br />

they created a beaver boom upon their return<br />

Beaver pelts in every size and color from the<br />

Fausz family collection.<br />

C H A P T E R 2<br />

3 5

The expulsion of all Indians by 1830 from<br />

the new <strong>St</strong>ate of Missouri was represented<br />

in this illustration from Ballou’s Pictorial<br />

newspaper of Boston on July 28, 1855.<br />


to <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>. In 1807, Clark and Lewis’s<br />

brother became partners with Manual Lisa,<br />

Pierre Chouteau, Sr., and other investors, in<br />

the new “<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Missouri Fur Company.”<br />

Governor Lewis procured a $7,000 federal<br />

grant to fund one upriver trapping<br />

expedition, and that conflict of interest in<br />

using his public office to enhance the private<br />

profits of friends would ultimately doom<br />

the Osages.<br />

Even though Osage furs were still<br />

lucrative, deerskins could not compete with<br />

beaver pelts in profitability. As both explorers<br />

and administrators, Lewis and Clark made<br />

the Osages expendable, because their<br />

territory—“immense tracts of fine Country”<br />

that were “much more fertile” than Virginia—<br />

now had greater value than their trade.<br />

The Osages were victims of their own<br />

success in making French <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> a<br />

profitable town that proved so appealing<br />

to land-hungry Anglo-Americans. The<br />

native allies of Laclede and Chouteau<br />

generously shared their precious wisdom of<br />

the West with President Jefferson’s fellow<br />

Virginians, who used that knowledge to<br />

undermine Osage hegemony and to diminish<br />

their legacy.<br />

Jefferson was determined to make the<br />

United <strong>St</strong>ates the supreme power beyond<br />

the Mississippi, but he could not risk<br />

an immediate confrontation with the<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


A M O T L E Y M I X O F M I G R A N T S<br />

While the Americans forced out native populations, the <strong>Louis</strong>iana Purchase encouraged an influx of new white residents from<br />

across the country, which perpetuated a different type of multiculturalism than colonial <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>.<br />

U.S. General James Wilkinson arrived at <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> in July 1805 as governor of Upper <strong>Louis</strong>iana. Theodore Roosevelt wrote that<br />

“in all our history, there is no more despicable character.” He was already controversial, having been implicated in army plots against<br />

General Mad Anthony Wayne and even George Washington and would survive several courts martial. In September 1805, Aaron Burr,<br />

Jefferson’s former vice president, met with Wilkinson at <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, allegedly to discuss the treasonous plot to create their own western<br />

empire. General Wilkinson’s controversial and contentious tenure as governor ended in August 1806, after which it was revealed that<br />

he had been a well-paid Spanish spy for years and plotted to destroy the Lewis and Clark Expedition!<br />

Sacagawea came to <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> to visit her Shoshone-French son, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau (“Pomp”), being raised by William Clark.<br />

Baptized by a Trappist monk in 1809, with Auguste Chouteau serving as his godfather, Pomp studied at the Catholic academy that<br />

evolved into Saint <strong>Louis</strong> University. At nineteen, he accompanied the Duke of Wurttemberg on his western travels and lived in Europe<br />

from 1823 to 1829. He spent the next four decades as a valued western guide, conversant in English, French, Spanish, German, and<br />

several native languages.<br />

Clark’s slave, York, lived in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> after his valuable contributions as the only African American member of the Lewis and<br />

Clark Expedition.<br />

Captain Joseph Conway, a friend of Daniel Boone, had fought Indians in Ohio, where he had been shot three times and scalped<br />

three times but killed seven warriors.<br />

Judge James Hawkins Peck from Tennessee literally delivered “blind justice” by conducting court while wearing a blindfold.<br />

Massachusetts-born fur trader Russell Farnham took the longest route to <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, traveling from the Columbia River by way of<br />

the Bering <strong>St</strong>rait, <strong>St</strong>. Petersburg, Paris, and an Atlantic crossing, to deliver British bank drafts to John Jacob Astor in <strong>New</strong> York City<br />

before arriving here as a suspected British spy captured in the Great Lakes.<br />

“great nation” of the populous Osages. The<br />

president was respectful in his 1804 meeting<br />

with Osage chiefs—the first Indians in the<br />

<strong>Louis</strong>iana Purchase Territory to visit him.<br />

But he grew more aggressive by 1806, after<br />

they had obeyed him by not retaliating<br />

against the vicious attacks of tribal enemies.<br />

Once the Osages began behaving like<br />

“Quakers,” the emboldened president<br />

demanded that they abandon their traditional<br />

homeland—or else. Americans, he threatened,<br />

“are strong, we are numerous as the stars<br />

in the heavens, and we are all gun-men”<br />

who “do not fear any nation.”<br />

Indian artifacts representative of those in<br />

Clark’s Indian Museum on Main <strong>St</strong>reet,<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>.<br />


C H A P T E R 2<br />

3 7

U.S. government gifts to Indians.<br />

As Superintendent of Indian Affairs in<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, William Clark chose this cotton<br />

fabric and other designs, as official gifts<br />

to native delegations. The tomahawk is<br />

marked “USID” (Indian Department)<br />

and was given to tribes as a treaty gift.<br />

Author’s photograph of his artifacts.<br />

In 1808, Governor Lewis suddenly<br />

suspended trade with the Osages, falsely<br />

accusing them of killing white settlers. He<br />

threatened a war of extermination using their<br />

many Indian enemies unless they signed the<br />

controversial Treaty of Fort Osage. Several<br />

intimidated Osage chiefs ceded 52,480,000<br />

acres of their traditional territory to the U.S.<br />

government, receiving only a fraction of a<br />

cent per acre. Having never warred with the<br />

Americans, the Osages were shocked to be<br />

the first western Indians dispossessed of their<br />

homelands and the only ones forced to<br />

abandon a still-profitable fur trade. In the<br />

Second Treaty of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> in June 1825,<br />

Clark took the last 40,000 square miles of<br />

Osage lands and soon forced them to leave<br />

the state they had helped create.<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> under the Americans remained<br />

the center of Indian diplomacy in the West.<br />

An eyewitness in the 1820s described how<br />

Indians, “a hundred or more at a time” would<br />

“promenade down our Main <strong>St</strong>reet in Indian<br />

file,” including bare-legged chiefs wearing<br />

U.S. army officer coats and “military hats<br />

with plumes,” while warriors, draped in<br />

“Mackinaw blankets,” each carried “a flaming<br />

scarlet umbrella…in one hand and…a palm<br />

leaf fan in the other.” They headed for<br />

William Clark’s Indian Council Chamber<br />

and museum of Indian curiosities on North<br />

Main <strong>St</strong>reet. The museum was described as<br />

“the most complete” collection of Native<br />

American artifacts and portraits in white<br />

hands “anywhere in the United <strong>St</strong>ates” that<br />

early. In 1825, the Marquis de Lafayette was<br />

very impressed by what he saw—especially<br />

the grizzly claw necklace—as were other<br />

European elites of the era who were<br />

fascinated by Native American cultures.<br />

Although the Indian items collected by “Red-<br />

Headed Chief” Clark honored indigenous<br />

cultures in one sense, his filing cabinets<br />

were filled with treaties documenting the<br />

419,000,000 acres he wrested from the<br />

homelands of many western tribes.<br />

Clark’s rapidly rising career symbolized<br />

the new opportunities for U.S. army officers<br />

in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>. The town’s strategic site made it<br />

an ideal launching point for new explorations.<br />

In 1805, Lieutenant Zebulon M. Pike left<br />

there in an unsuccessful attempt to seek the<br />

source of the Mississippi River. With soldiers<br />

from Fort Bellefontaine, a U.S. army base<br />

north of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, Pike then led an 1806-07<br />

expedition to the Arkansas and Red Rivers,<br />

eventually reaching the Rio Grande. A dozen<br />

years later, Major <strong>St</strong>ephen H. Long left<br />

from <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> to map present-day Kansas<br />

and Nebraska—establishing a precedent by<br />

taking artists Samuel Seymour and Titian<br />

Peale to paint exquisite scenery that helped<br />

Americans to visualize the West.<br />

During the War of 1812 army personnel<br />

from Fort Bellefontaine protected the town<br />

from British and Indian invasion. In 1813<br />

Clark led a successful raid on the pro-British<br />

Sauk and Fox stronghold at Prairie du Chien<br />

(Wisconsin) with 60 soldiers and 140 <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


militiamen. Following the war, Clark,<br />

Auguste Chouteau, and Ninian Edwards<br />

of Illinois, negotiated new treaties with<br />

thousands of Indians from twenty-nine native<br />

nations assembled at Portage des Sioux.<br />

The necessity to document such federal<br />

Indian treaties with legal precision<br />

symbolized the increasing influence of<br />

American attorneys in a French town that<br />

never had any use for that profession.<br />

Legions of U.S. lawyers also thronged to<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> to litigate contested Spanish land<br />

grants, with a mostly negative impact on the<br />

French founding families. For at least half<br />

a century after the <strong>Louis</strong>iana Purchase,<br />

“lawyering” provided upward social mobility<br />

for Americans in Missouri, whose training in<br />

English common law, rather than the nowobsolete<br />

French civil law, gave them a distinct<br />

advantage in courtrooms and political<br />

campaigns. In 1808, Virginia-born Frederick<br />

Bates, a <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> judge and future Missouri<br />

governor, produced a 372-page Compilation<br />

of the Laws of the Territory of <strong>Louis</strong>iana—a<br />

milestone of territorial maturity. It was printed<br />

in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> by Irishman Joseph Charless,<br />

who, that same year, began publishing the<br />

Missouri Gazette and <strong>Louis</strong>iana Advertiser,<br />

the first newspaper in the West.<br />

Political institutions also reflected the<br />

maturation of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, which was officially<br />

incorporated as an American “town” in 1809.<br />

The first elected trustees represented a cultural<br />

confluence, as Auguste and Pierre Chouteau<br />

and brother-in-law Bernard Pratte served with<br />

Edward Hempstead (a Connecticut lawyer<br />

who married into the French Dubreuil family)<br />

and Alexander McNair (a former army officer<br />

from Pennsylvania). They established the<br />

first “police patrol” and set curfews for a<br />

diverse and potentially disruptive population<br />

that included Indians, “bragging” Mississippi<br />

boatmen, Canadian voyageurs, and rifle-toting<br />

Kentucky hunters.<br />

In 1815 old French elites formed the<br />

“Little Junto” dominated by the Chouteau<br />

brothers and their commercial kinsmen:<br />

Pratte, Charles Gratiot, John P. Cabanné,<br />

Sylvestre Labbadie, and Gregoire Sarpy.<br />

They sought to have their extensive Spanish<br />

land grants confirmed and favored fur<br />

A N “ O R N A M E N T E D C I T Y ” I N A N E W S T A T E<br />

In the year that statehood was achieved, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> had 651 homes—232 built<br />

of stone or brick—with 108 new dwellings constructed in the last six years alone.<br />

The 1821 <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Directory and Register, compiled by John A. Paxton, recorded<br />

the current status of Missouri’s “commercial metropolis.” Despite an economic<br />

recession from 1819 to 1823, the town featured:<br />

Thriving Catholic, Baptist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, and Methodist congregations;<br />

Saint <strong>Louis</strong> College with 65 students using Bishop DuBourg’s 8,000-book library;<br />

10 common schools;<br />

5 weekly newspapers, several printers, and a bookstore;<br />

a portrait-painter “who would do credit to any country”;<br />

“professional musicians” who played at balls to encourage “healthy” dancing;<br />

2 “cordial distillers” and candy-makers;<br />

12 tailors, 3 hatters, 13 shoemakers, 5 jewelers, and at least one watch-maker;<br />

4 hair-dressers, several perfumers, and a comb factory;<br />

46 “mercantile establishments” trading with the “distant parts of the Republic”;<br />

27 attorneys;<br />

a hospital, 13 doctors, 3 midwives, and 3 druggists;<br />

57 grocers and 4 bakers;<br />

3 gunsmiths;<br />

8 large inns/hotels, plus many boarding houses;<br />

6 livery stables, 3 saddlemakers, 9 blacksmiths, and 3 coach builders;<br />

a ferry to Illinois and stages running to Edwardsville and Franklin;<br />

2 brickyards, 2 potteries, a nail factory, a tannery, and 3 soap and candle manufacturers;<br />

28 carpenters, 3 masons, 14 brick-layers, 13 furniture makers, and 10 house painters;<br />

4 “Coopers, Block, Pump, and Mast-makers”;<br />

5 billiard parlors, each paying $100 in annual state and city taxes;<br />

one brewery “of a quality equal to any in the western country”;<br />

2 beer gardens for “entertainment and recreation”—one atop an Indian mound,<br />

and a theatre at 72 North Main <strong>St</strong>reet.<br />

trading over extensive farming. Those French<br />

town leaders were supported by General<br />

Clark and his nephew, John O’Fallon, along<br />

with Hempstead and McNair, who were<br />

sympathetic to those priorities. Opponents of<br />

the Junto included John B. C. Lucas, Joseph<br />

Charless, Rufus Easton, William Russell, and<br />

David Barton, who supported American real<br />

estate speculators and increasing the number<br />

of immigrant farmers.<br />

Such political rivalries among local luminaries<br />

took on greater importance as statehood<br />

approached. Meeting in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s Mansion<br />

House Hotel, a constitutional convention<br />

produced a draft document by July 1820.<br />

With representation based on population,<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> dominated the proceedings with<br />

C H A P T E R 2<br />

3 9

An 1820 Bank of Missouri $10 Note, signed<br />

by president Auguste Chouteau. It portrays<br />

Thomas Jefferson as a Roman emperor,<br />

but with French <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s symbols of<br />

commerce, rather than the president’s<br />

preference for agriculture.<br />


18 percent of the delegates, including: David<br />

Barton (who presided over the convention),<br />

Virginian Edward Bates (the future first attorney<br />

general), fur traders Pierre Chouteau, Jr.,<br />

and Bernard Pratte, Alexander McNair<br />

(the state’s first governor), General William<br />

Rector (U.S. army surveyor), banker Thomas<br />

Riddick, and John C. Sullivan (a justice of<br />

the county court).<br />

Eighteen years after the <strong>Louis</strong>iana Purchase,<br />

Missouri entered the Union as the twentyfourth<br />

state on August 10, 1821—the first<br />

one located entirely west of the Mississippi<br />

and also have a bilingual constitution in<br />

French and English. The new state had a<br />

population of 56,000 whites, mostly from<br />

Virginia and Kentucky, and 10,000 black<br />

slaves, representing 19 percent of the state’s<br />

population and 15 percent of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s.<br />

Missouri would be the northernmost slave<br />

state in the West—as mandated by the<br />

Missouri Compromise of 1820—sharing a<br />

southern border with Virginia and Kentucky<br />

at a latitude of 36 degrees, 30 minutes, as<br />

predicted by the Mitchell map of 1755.<br />

But Virginians had compromised the<br />

Bourbon culture of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> long before<br />

statehood, making an Indian-friendly city<br />

into the capital of a white-dominated state<br />

cleared of Native Americans. That cultural<br />

victory was apparent when Missouri’s new<br />

state capital and <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s latest army base<br />

were both named for Jefferson in 1826, the<br />

year he died. By mid-century, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans<br />

universally praised the once-contentious<br />

<strong>Louis</strong>iana Purchase, regarding it as a “Happy<br />

Annexation,” without which, their city<br />

“would be in everything at least a quarter<br />

century behind where we are now.” Most of<br />

the old French families were reconciled with<br />

Americanization, widely praising Jefferson,<br />

whose “pen gave freedom to the eastern half<br />

of our republic, and his diplomacy united it<br />

to the other half.” Today, Missouri has more<br />

monuments honoring Jefferson, including his<br />

original tombstone on the Mizzou campus,<br />

than any state except Virginia.<br />

The past of Virginia had become the future<br />

of Missouri because, despite their different<br />

religions, languages, laws, and cultures, the<br />

French founders and American administrators<br />

shared two traditional socioeconomic<br />

goals: perpetuating race-based black slavery<br />

and profiting from all natural resources in the<br />

West. From 1804 to 1816, Virginians represented<br />

the largest group of Anglo-Americans<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


(30 percent) who migrated to Missouri, and<br />

three of the first four Missouri governors<br />

had been born in Virginia. Of the next seven<br />

governors down to 1857, two were Virginians,<br />

while the other five came from the Virginiainfluenced<br />

trans-Appalachian frontier states<br />

of Kentucky and Tennessee. For many decades,<br />

the most prominent leaders throughout<br />

Missouri had all been born somewhere else.<br />

“The most obvious result of Americanization<br />

in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>,” wrote historian James Neal Primm,<br />

“was deplorable public behavior.” There was<br />

a growing acceptance of increasing violence,<br />

as illustrated by the measly $500 fine levied<br />

against an 1840 murderer who had beaten a<br />

newspaper editor to death with an iron cane.<br />

Primm observed that such violence was<br />

not attributable to the “wild” frontier, since<br />

“<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> was no longer the frontier”—“it<br />

had been less violent when it was.” From the<br />

1820s to the 1840s, a growing number of gun<br />

shops opened in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> after the removal<br />

of so-called “hostile savages” out of Missouri.<br />

On sale in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> were a large variety of<br />

dueling pistols, “pocket” guns, “desperate”<br />

knives, sword canes, daggers, Bowie knives<br />

with pistol attached (“which will shoot and<br />

cut at the same time”), self-cocking revolving<br />

pistols that fired “6 times in only 4 seconds,”<br />

and even small cannons for personal use.<br />

Ironically, the Hawken advertisement for<br />

firearms adjoined one for grave stones, and<br />

both businesses were located on Washington<br />

Avenue. Ads from the <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Business<br />

Directory for 1847.<br />


C H A P T E R 2<br />

4 1

L I T I G I O U S L A W Y E R S D U E L I N G T O T H E D E A T H<br />

Deadly duels were extremely rare under the French and Spanish, and “there had been no murders in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> for forty years”<br />

prior to the <strong>Louis</strong>iana Purchase, according to Primm. But American attorneys, influenced by the traditional dueling culture of<br />

the Old South, sought to defend their “honor as civilized gentlemen” by shooting other lawyers, often on “Bloody Island” in the<br />

middle of the Mississippi River.<br />

In 1810 the earliest notable duel involved attorney James A. Graham and Dr. Bernard G. Farrar of Kentucky—a second who had<br />

to stand in for his cowardly brother-in-law when he failed to appear. Farrar mortally wounded the man he had no grievance against<br />

and then offered medical assistance.<br />

In 1817, only a year after arriving in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> from Tennessee, future U.S. Senator Thomas Hart Benton killed lawyer Charles Lucas,<br />

son of his political rival, Judge J. B. C. Lucas. It was their second duel, after both men had been wounded three months earlier.<br />

The most spectacular duel on Bloody Island occurred in August 26, 1831, when Congressman Spencer Pettis faced off against<br />

U. S. Army Major Thomas Biddle. They stood only five feet apart and fired simultaneously. A large crowd on the riverbank heard<br />

the chilling result, “both mortally wounded!” Pettis died the next day at the age of 29, while Biddle succumbed two days later,<br />

aged 41. Senator Benton, a close friend of Pettis, wrote a stirring account of “one of the most desperate encounters that had ever<br />

occurred in the country,” an essay circulated in newspapers throughout the nation.<br />

John Smith “T” (identifying his Tennessee roots) claimed that he had killed 14 men in duels, including a nephew of former<br />

Vice President Aaron Burr. He was always acquitted and strolled <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> streets with four pistols, a rifle, and two knives.<br />

In addition to the standard “pistols at ten paces,” an 1845 duel was fought with swords, and in 1857, adversaries considered<br />

using rifles at sixty paces. A. B. Chambers and Thomas B. Hudson shot a total of six bullets at each other, missing every time,<br />

and ended their dispute without bloodshed. Duels continued until the Civil War, but they were outlawed in the 1865 state<br />

constitution—a provision that remained until 1945!<br />

Changing <strong>St</strong>reet Names from French to<br />

English—a map by Musick in his <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

as a Fortified Town; copyright expired.<br />

In 1826, the <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> city council adopted a<br />

“modern” system of naming most downtown<br />

streets for trees (Walnut, Pine, Chestnut,<br />

etc.) like Philadelphia. Market <strong>St</strong>reet and<br />

Washington Avenue were already too<br />

familiar to change, however.<br />

In 1822, the state legislature made <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

an official “city” with a mayor and 9 original<br />

aldermen. The city’s population had increased<br />

300 percent by 1818, and in the early 1820s,<br />

it had 5,500 residents, with another 4,200<br />

people living on the outskirts. When<br />

Pennsylvania native, Dr. William Carr Lane,<br />

defeated both Auguste and Pierre Chouteau<br />

in successive elections for mayor of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

in the mid-1820s, the 155 old French families<br />

realized that an ever-expanding population<br />

of foreigners would forever put them at<br />

a disadvantage at the polls. A 187 percent<br />

increase in immigrants between 1810 and<br />

1820, and another 208 percent from 1820<br />

to 1840, had diluted the French population<br />

and diminished the recognition of their<br />

past contributions among the new citizens.<br />

A visiting Parisian observed that the city’s<br />

“rich, esteemed French” residents were<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


“reclusive [and] irrelevant, clinging to slavery<br />

and their traditions.” A Presbyterian geographer<br />

in 1834 claimed that the <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> French<br />

were “a population of a very peculiar character.”<br />

They were “amiable” and “quiet” and retained<br />

their own language,” which was “somewhat<br />

corrupted” by living with Americans.<br />

French residents endured the changing<br />

names of their original streets and the<br />

tiresome mispronunciation of their native<br />

language. Leaving politics to the Americans,<br />

they seemed content with making money<br />

from their vast inventory of properties—and<br />

hosting the most lavish balls and receptions<br />

in the city’s largest, fanciest mansions.<br />

Hospitality had long been a French specialty,<br />

and in April 1825, the descendants of the<br />

founders threw the biggest party of all in<br />

welcoming the Marquis de Lafayette to <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>.<br />

Clark joined the Chouteau brothers as the<br />

official hosts who wined and dined him and<br />

his entourage, after the state legislature and<br />

Virginia-born governor declined to honor the<br />

old military hero who had helped America<br />

win its independence. Auguste Levasseur,<br />

Lafayette’s secretary and chronicler of his<br />

“Farewell Tour,” wrote that the April ball<br />

was attended by “the most brilliant and<br />

most numerous company,” and he praised the<br />

“luster of the decorations…and the elegance<br />

of the ladies,” which “made us forget entirely<br />

that we were at the entrance of the wilderness.”<br />

Lafayette’s immensely popular visit contributed<br />

to the resurgence of pride and<br />

productivity in every sphere of traditional<br />

French influence—from Catholicism to fur<br />

trading. Between 1818 and 1834, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

became famous as the “Rome of the West,”<br />

constructing a church, a cathedral, and a university<br />

under inspired leadership. In 1818<br />

the Right Reverend <strong>Louis</strong> William DuBourg,<br />

a Sulpician priest born in Santo Domingo<br />

and former president of Georgetown College,<br />

assumed his duties as the new Bishop of<br />

<strong>Louis</strong>iana. His critically important decision to<br />

make <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> his diocesan headquarters,<br />

rather than <strong>New</strong> Orleans, confirmed the city’s<br />

position as the ideal gateway for Catholic<br />

missionaries to reach potential Indian<br />

converts in the Far West.<br />

DuBourg began the expensive and nevercompleted<br />

first brick Catholic church on<br />

Laclede’s Church Lands and founded the<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Academy, which evolved into Saint<br />

<strong>Louis</strong> University, the first college west of the<br />

Mississippi, in 1832. He also encouraged Jesuits<br />

to open the first Catholic school for Native<br />

American boys in the nation and recruited<br />

Grenoble-born Mother Rose Duchesne (now<br />

Saint Philippine) and five other French nuns<br />

French <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans, like French Canadiens,<br />

were famous for their formal balls. This<br />

Dance in the Château <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, Quebec<br />

was painted by George Heriot in 1801.<br />



C H A P T E R 2<br />

4 3

Les Indiens Osages, one of two matching<br />

1827 lithographs of original portraits by<br />

Parisian artist, <strong>Louis</strong>-Leopold Boilly.<br />

This shows three of the six Osages,<br />

most prominently the woman, Mohongo<br />

(“Sacred Sun”), who went to Europe in 1827<br />

with <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> promoter, David Dulauney,<br />

and interpreter Paul Loise, a Chouteau<br />

metis. They performed popular native<br />

dances for French, Dutch, and German<br />

crowds and met King Charles X. But they<br />

were abandoned and stranded in France,<br />

until Lafayette and Bishop DuBourg paid<br />

for their passage home in 1830. That strong<br />

French connection continues today, as the<br />

Osage Nation selects young men and<br />

women to make a similar journey.<br />


of the Society of the Sacred Heart. They<br />

founded a convent school in <strong>St</strong>. Charles—<br />

“the first free school for American and Creole<br />

girls west of the Mississippi”—according to<br />

Barbara O. Korner. She noted that the<br />

“Society of the Sacred Heart was the only one<br />

of the six European orders that came to<br />

America prior to 1830 that survived.” Its<br />

local legacy also included a similar school for<br />

French girls and a female Indian seminary,<br />

both based in Florissant, because property in<br />

downtown <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> was too expensive, having<br />

increased 500 percent in only two years.<br />

DuBourg’s equally energetic successor—<br />

and the first bishop of the Diocese of<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>—was Joseph Rosati. His leadership<br />

helped <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans forget the funding<br />

nightmare associated with the brick church<br />

and redirected community efforts to create<br />

a beautiful limestone cathedral worthy of a<br />

growing city of increasing fame. After three<br />

years of construction, his masterpiece was<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


completed in 1834. Known today as the<br />

Cathedral Basilica of Saint <strong>Louis</strong>, King<br />

of France, the “Old Cathedral” adjoining<br />

the National Park Service grounds of the<br />

Gateway Arch is undergoing extensive<br />

interior and exterior renovations that will<br />

make it a much-visited historic showpiece<br />

once again.<br />

Rosati’s cathedral faced south, but almost<br />

everything else associated with <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> was<br />

focused on the West. The religious resurgence<br />

of the French community was accompanied<br />

by an even more impressive commercial<br />

revival. The elite Chouteau family<br />

had never stopped expanding its<br />

influence and affluence through<br />

marriages with prominent Americans<br />

and Catholic immigrants, while lowerclass<br />

Frenchmen worked for William<br />

Clark as U.S. Indian agents and interpreters<br />

of native languages. The early<br />

1820s, however, brought revolutionary<br />

changes that dramatically expanded<br />

the scope and profitability of the western<br />

fur trade. Mexico gained its independence<br />

from Spain, which opened<br />

the Santa Fe silver trade to daring<br />

Missouri entrepreneurs, who enjoyed<br />

profits of 2,000 percent that helped<br />

fund fur trading. <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans needed<br />

such capital to compete with the<br />

newly-merged old Canadian rivals—<br />

the Hudson’s Bay Company and the<br />

North West Company of Montreal—<br />

which now invaded the northern<br />

plains of the United <strong>St</strong>ates searching<br />

for furs and Indian allies. And in<br />

1822, too, Congress closed the government’s<br />

subsidized nonprofit fur factories and<br />

stopped competing with private merchants.<br />

Exploiting those simultaneous, interconnected<br />

developments at the perfect time was<br />

William H. Ashley, Missouri’s first lieutenant<br />

governor, general of the state militia, and a<br />

gunpowder manufacturer. The <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> fur<br />

trade was already contributing<br />

about $600,000 to the city’s total<br />

annual commerce of $2,000,000.<br />

But the recent death of Manuel<br />

Lisa, the masterful fur magnate<br />

who pioneered combined trading<br />

and trapping expeditions up the<br />

Missouri River, created an opening<br />

for Ashley. In 1822, he partnered<br />

with Andrew Henry, a former<br />

Michilimackinac merchant, to<br />

dispatch white trappers into the<br />

Rockies to harvest beavers from<br />

Indian territories while avoiding<br />

hostile river tribes. Ashley’s expedition to<br />

Green River, Wyoming, required 70 trappers,<br />

160 pack mules, and $20,000 worth of<br />

merchandise to produce profits of $60,000<br />

on 9,000 pounds of pelts.<br />

Left: The “Old Cathedral,” a year after<br />

its completion in 1834, showing the rectory<br />

on the right and an orphanage to the left.<br />

An 1835 lithograph by L. D. Pomarede.<br />


ST. LOUIS.<br />

Below: The “Old Rock House”—a stone<br />

fur warehouse built in 1818 by Spanish<br />

entrepreneur, Manuel Lisa, as it appeared in<br />

the mid-twentieth century before being<br />

dismantled to make way for the<br />

Gateway Arch.<br />



C H A P T E R 2<br />

4 5

Above: Trappers on the Prairie: Peace or<br />

War? Lithograph by Currier & Ives, 1866.<br />


Below: Replica Medal of the Upper Missouri<br />

Outfit, dominated by Pierre Chouteau, Jr.<br />


Predictably, Indians attacked white intruders<br />

stealing their resources, and by 1831, had<br />

killed at least 170 trappers. From 1823 to<br />

1828, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> companies lost $100,000<br />

to Indian thefts of horses, mules, guns,<br />

traps, supplies, and pelts. Despite those<br />

losses, trapping was very profitable, netting<br />

$1.65 million in 1831 after expenses of<br />

$2.1 million, partly because trappers earned<br />

only $150-$200 per year for risking their<br />

lives. Ashley also created the rendezvous<br />

system, which kept mountain men in the<br />

West year-round without the need to build<br />

expensive permanent forts. He reaped a fortune<br />

on markups of 2,000 percent for essential<br />

supplies (and recreational liquor) needed by<br />

about 600 western trappers per year.<br />

In 1826, Ashley sold his successful company<br />

to fellow <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans, where neighbors and<br />

even family members fought fiercely for<br />

supremacy in the fur trade. At least eight<br />

Chouteau kinsmen, for instance, served in<br />

four different fur companies, until Bernard<br />

Pratte’s French Company of five Chouteau<br />

cousins drove the others out. In 1822 the<br />

American Fur Company (AFC) owned by<br />

the German immigrant, John Jacob Astor,<br />

established a “Western Department” in<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>. Historian Walter <strong>St</strong>evens claimed<br />

that Astor was “baffled” by the Chouteaus’<br />

“well-established relationship with the<br />

Indians,” and in 1834, he sold the “Missouri<br />

River Outfit” of the AFC to <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans<br />

Pratte and his cousin, Pierre Chouteau, Jr.<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


C O R E D I S C O V E R I E S B Y S T . L O U I S M O U N T A I N M E N<br />

Historian Howard Lamar observed that “it was the fur trappers, rather than Lewis and Clark, who found the actual paths by which<br />

settlers could move themselves and their possessions to Oregon, California, and Utah.” Although the following mountain men were<br />

born elsewhere, most lived in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> and died in Missouri:<br />

S James Pierson Beckwith, inaccurately known as “Beckwourth”<br />

(1798-1866?) was born a Virginia slave and became the<br />

most famous of several African American mountain men.<br />

He traveled in California, Colorado, and <strong>New</strong> Mexico, before<br />

living with Crow Indians as an adopted chief. His many<br />

adventures were recorded in a popular 1856 book.<br />

S Charles and William Bent operated Bent’s Old Fort (“the Adobe<br />

Castle”) trading post in Colorado between 1833-1849 with<br />

Ceran <strong>St</strong>. Vrain, the great-grandson of Laclede.<br />

S Benjamin <strong>Louis</strong> Eulalie de Bonneville (1796-1878) was a<br />

U.S. army officer who failed as a fur merchant in the Far West<br />

but pioneered a heavy-wagon route across the Continental<br />

Divide in the 1830s and was immortalized in a book by<br />

Washington Irving.<br />

S Jim Bridger (1804-1881), a Virginian, was among the first of<br />

Ashley’s trappers in 1822, and in 1824-25 was the first white<br />

man to discover the Great Salt Lake and geysers of Yellowstone.<br />

He also established stagecoach and rail routes in Wyoming<br />

and Montana.<br />

S Robert Campbell (1804-1879), a Northern Ireland immigrant,<br />

enjoyed a meteoric rise as a self-made mountain man and<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> merchant with partner William Sublette. Campbell<br />

invested in steamboats, railroads, real estate, the Merchants<br />

National Bank, and the Southern Hotel. Living in a mansion of<br />

Victorian splendor on fashionable Lucas Place, he entertained<br />

President Grant, General Sherman, and other notable leaders<br />

and helped negotiate Indian treaties. When he died in 1879,<br />

his $2,000,000 estate far eclipsed that of city patriarch,<br />

Auguste Chouteau.<br />

S John Colter (1775-1813), a valued Virginia veteran of the<br />

Lewis and Clark Expedition, returned to the Far West in<br />

1806-08, becoming one of the first white beaver trappers in<br />

the Bighorn Basin and the Yellowstone Valley.<br />

S Andrew Henry (1775-1833) was an innovative entrepreneur<br />

with the early <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> fur companies under Lisa and Ashley<br />

and a major proponent of using white trappers.<br />

S Wilson Price Hunt (1783-1842) led a successful overland<br />

1810-12 expedition from <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> to Astor’s Fort Astoria in<br />

Oregon, pioneering a route through the Snake River Valley<br />

and parts of the later Oregon Trail. He sold Russian sealskins<br />

in China and exported rare Chinese goods to <strong>New</strong> York.<br />

S Jedediah Smith (1799-1831) was a talented ex-Ashley trapper<br />

who explored South Pass, Wyoming; Utah’s Great Basin; the<br />

Oregon coast; and Sierra Nevada Mountains. He led the first<br />

American expedition to reach California from the southwest.<br />

S William Sublette (1799-1845) began trapping with Ashley<br />

and helped develop the Overland Trail—being “the first to<br />

prove that wagons and cattle could be taken across the<br />

Great Plains,” according to historian Mary Ellen Rowe. He was<br />

a successful business partner of Robert Campbell in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>.<br />

The last mountain man rendezvous in<br />

1840 signaled the end of the beaver boom,<br />

which, in only two decades, had attracted<br />

3,000 trappers but alienated ten times that<br />

many western Indians. Many of the 150 forts<br />

and outposts built between 1822 and 1840<br />

were named for prominent <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans<br />

(using their first names like European royalty).<br />

And the most innovative of those entrepreneurs<br />

had one final trick up their fur sleeve—<br />

switching to an Indian trade in buffalo hides<br />

after beaver pelts ceased to be profitable. The<br />

younger Chouteaus, in particular, prospered<br />

for more decades by selling sturdy, heavy<br />

bison leather from the Northern Plains to<br />

eastern industrial cities that needed belts to<br />

run factory machinery. In 1840, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans<br />

shipped 67,000 huge buffalo hides to their<br />

hometown and 110,000 more eight years<br />

later, along with the popular delicacy of<br />

25,000 buffalo tongues.<br />

The deaths, only a decade apart, of very<br />

different but equally revered frontier leaders—<br />

Auguste Chouteau and William Clark—represented<br />

the creation of a composite western<br />

culture synonymous with nineteenth-century<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>.<br />

On Tuesday, February 24, 1829, the<br />

Missouri Republican reported that “the venerable”<br />

Chouteau, the co-founder and long-reigning<br />

“Patriarch of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>,” had died that morning<br />

in his famous mansion along the riverfront<br />

that had shaped his career. He was the<br />

centerpiece in the influential, multicultural<br />

dynasty created by Laclede and Marie Therese<br />

Bourgeois Chouteau—the oldest and most<br />

C H A P T E R 2<br />

4 7

Nineteenth-century animal hide coat with<br />

Indian quill embroidery in Canadian metis<br />

style, perhaps owned by Auguste Chouteau.<br />


MUSEUM, ST. LOUIS (OBJ 1906 013 0002).<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />

48<br />

successful of her five children, 52 grandchildren,<br />

and 69 great-grandchildren when<br />

she died in 1814. A Frenchman in the 1830s<br />

observed that the Chouteau name remained<br />

“a passport that commands safety and<br />

hospitality among all of the Indian nations<br />

of the United <strong>St</strong>ates, north and west,” as<br />

two generations of family members had<br />

founded fur posts and future towns in<br />

Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota,<br />

and Montana.<br />

During his sixty-five-year residency along<br />

the Mississippi, Chouteau had survived the<br />

debts, doubts, and dangers of frontier fur<br />

trading, merging business ties with bloodlines,<br />

while <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> increased 2,000 percent<br />

in population and expanded its commerce<br />

“over a larger territory…than any other city<br />

in the Union.” Auguste retired from active<br />

fur trading in 1816 and devoted the remainder<br />

of his life to civic service, philanthropy,<br />

nurturing his many merchant kin, and<br />

advising the U.S. government on Indian<br />

issues. When he died in 1829, he left an<br />

estate that included 21,500 acres of land and<br />

another 39,000 acres of debatable legality—<br />

not counting developed city properties.<br />

He left $83,000 in IOUs, mortgages, and<br />

promissory notes from 800 people and<br />

over $17,000 worth of personal property,<br />

which included 600 books and 50 slaves,<br />

but only $32.12 in cash, which reflected a<br />

fur trader’s traditional reliance on credit.<br />

Subsequent generations of Americans have<br />

found Chouteau’s most precious<br />

possession to be his<br />

“Narrative of the Founding<br />

of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>”—making his<br />

city even more distinctive as<br />

one of only a handful in history<br />

to have an eyewitness<br />

document on its beginnings<br />

by a founder.<br />

William Clark outlived<br />

Chouteau by nine years and<br />

died a revered local celebrity<br />

and national hero on<br />

September 1, 1838, at the<br />

age of sixty-eight. The city’s<br />

diverse citizenry honored<br />

him with a mile-long funeral<br />

procession. In addition to<br />

being co-commander of the<br />

famous, influential Corps of<br />

Discovery, Clark had served<br />

as brigadier general of<br />

Missouri’s militia; territorial<br />

governor from 1813 to<br />

1820; and head of U.S.-<br />

Indian affairs in the West<br />

between 1807 and 1838,<br />

under different titles. His<br />

Indian museum and cartographical expertise<br />

enhanced <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s reputation as the capital<br />

of the American West. As a diplomat, he<br />

personally negotiated thirty-seven treaties<br />

that dispossessed Indians of their homelands<br />

and played some role in 20 percent of all<br />

370 U.S. treaties with native nations.<br />

According to his biographer, Landon Y. Jones,<br />

“the cruelties of Clark’s time and the<br />

strengths of his character did not contradict<br />

one another…. He was a man whose<br />

complexity encompassed both.”

“No country on earth, of equal extent, has so many advantages…as the Valley of the Mississippi….<br />

The introduction of steam-boats into this vast region, watered by large rivers,<br />

…has greatly increased…the facilities for trade and emigration.”<br />

–Robert Baird, View of the Valley of the Mississippi, 1834<br />

C H A P T E R 3<br />



As Laclede and Chouteau intended, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> was always the capital of a river empire,<br />

extending its influence via multiple tributaries from the Plains to Pittsburgh and the Great Lakes<br />

to the Gulf of Mexico. For decades, the city’s waterfront had welcomed local log canoes (pirogues),<br />

large birch-bark canoes made by Canadian Indians, and a wide variety of flatboats, keelboats,<br />

rafts, barges, and other vessels. Between 1763 and 1816, human muscles powered watercraft for<br />

the 90-120 days it took to travel the 1,200 miles upriver from <strong>New</strong> Orleans. But that all changed<br />

quite suddenly in 1817, when a small steam-powered paddle-wheeler, named Zebulon M. Pike,<br />

chugged into <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> to make startled residents aware of revolutionary technology that would<br />

alter their lives and livelihoods. In 1825 the traveling companion of the Marquis de Lafayette<br />

observed that the improved steamboats of that era could make the trip from <strong>New</strong> Orleans in a<br />

mere ten days, returning downstream in only five. Described in that year as “the great warehouse<br />

for all the commerce…west of the Mississippi,” <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> was already building its own fleet of<br />

steamboats in a large facility. Paddle-wheelers made such an enormous impact on the region—<br />

both immediate and long-lasting—that a steamboat is still the prominent illustration on the<br />

official seal of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> City.<br />

Nineteenth-century Mississippi River<br />

steamboats published in Alcee Fortier’s<br />

History of <strong>Louis</strong>iana, vol. I (<strong>New</strong> York and<br />

Paris, 1904).<br />

C H A P T E R 3<br />

4 9

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Levee, a mid-nineteenth century<br />

daguerreotype by Thomas M. Easterly.<br />

A contemporary <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>an wrote that<br />

“a mile and a half of steamboats lying at the<br />

wharf of a city one thousand miles from the<br />

ocean, in the heart of the continent, is a<br />

spectacle which naturally inspires large<br />

views of commercial greatness.”<br />


MUSEUM, ST. LOUIS (17070).<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />

50<br />

The geographical realities of steamboat<br />

navigation on the Mississippi enhanced the<br />

value of Laclede’s central site. According to<br />

historian Jeffrey Adler, “it was unsafe for<br />

larger boats to operate above <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, and it<br />

was unprofitable for smaller steamers to work<br />

the river below the town.” As an ideallylocated<br />

“reloading point,” <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> truly<br />

became the “Lion of the Valley” that dominated<br />

the commerce of the region’s waterways.<br />

The Mississippi split America in half, and<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s strategic site made it the dominant<br />

interior river port for a century—first as<br />

America’s western-most of eastern cities and<br />

later as the eastern-most of the nation’s western<br />

cities. From whatever direction <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

was viewed, it seemed destined to be the<br />

“future seat of empire,” wrote an observer in<br />

the 1820s, because “no place in the world<br />

situated so far from the ocean,” could match<br />

its “commercial advantages.” In the next<br />

decade, a visiting U.S. senator noted that<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s “gentlemen of fortune preferred…<br />

the sound of…steamers arriving or departing<br />

to the lowing of herds,” as the region<br />

transitioned from the plodding pace of<br />

plows to the unprecedented speed of steampowered<br />

vehicles.<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s rapid growth and rising stature<br />

were directly tied to the evolving size,<br />

speed, and sophistication of steamboats,<br />

which poured “wealth and prosperity into<br />

her lap.” Harnessing the latest technology<br />

to maximize its ideal location, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> was<br />

being discussed as “the future capital of a<br />

great nation” and received “the attention not<br />

only of our own inhabitants, but also those of<br />

foreign lands.” Surpassing both <strong>New</strong> Orleans<br />

and Cincinnati in river traffic by the early<br />

1840s, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> shipped nearly 263,000 tons<br />

of merchandise and greatly expanded its<br />

work force. Twenty years later, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans<br />

owned 168 steamboats, more than the<br />

residents of any other interior port city, and<br />

they employed 3,500 men just in building or<br />

repairing them. In addition, there were<br />

jobs for large numbers of pilots, crewmen,<br />

deckhands, dockhands, and warehouse<br />

workers, many of them African Americans.<br />

In 1860 almost 3,500 riverboats, averaging<br />

550 tons, called at the city, obscuring<br />

the wharf with a “forest of chimneys.”<br />

Counting 170 steamers jostling for access to<br />

the levee at one time, an observer thought<br />

they resembled huge “white bears” in a<br />

feeding frenzy.

Reflecting the prominence, pride, and<br />

prosperity that the <strong>St</strong>eamboat Age brought<br />

to <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, residents erected a magnificent<br />

Greek Revival courthouse of monumental<br />

proportions between 1839 and 1864. Rising<br />

192 feet high like a riverfront beacon on the<br />

crest of a hill, it was the city’s tallest building<br />

from 1864 to 1894, after the Civil War<br />

addition of its huge iron dome, modeled<br />

after <strong>St</strong>. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. With one<br />

columned entrance facing the river and<br />

another focused on the vast hinterland of<br />

future expansion, that big, beautiful building<br />

represented the dual focus of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> in<br />

the mid-nineteenth century as both “Queen<br />

of the River” and “Gateway to the West.”<br />

As important as the Mississippi was, steamboats<br />

also increased the fame and fortune of<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> with trade and travel along the<br />

Missouri River. In 1831, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans demonstrated<br />

how a new invention could improve an<br />

old fur trade, when the steamer Yellow <strong>St</strong>one<br />

(120’ long x 20’ wide) left the levee with<br />

22 crewmen, 75 employees of the American<br />

Fur Company, and 1,000 gallons of whiskey<br />

on a successful maiden voyage to Fort Union<br />

(near today’s North Dakota-Montana border).<br />

Two years later, that “Fire Boat that walks<br />

on the Waters” transported German Prince<br />

Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied and Swiss artist<br />

Karl Bodmer deep into Indian Country, making<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> a tourist capital for a steady<br />

stream of European sightseers, who enhanced<br />

the city’s reputation around the world. That<br />

same year, the United <strong>St</strong>ates designated <strong>St</strong>.<br />

<strong>Louis</strong> as an official “port of entry,” which provided<br />

federal funding for Robert E. Lee and<br />

other army engineers to clear river sandbars.<br />

The “Old Courthouse” in the mid-1840s,<br />

without the huge iron dome of the<br />

Civil War era.<br />



C H A P T E R 3<br />

5 1

Karl Bodmer’s 1848 lithograph portraying<br />

Prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied<br />

visiting the Minitaree/Minatarre Indians<br />

at Fort Clark in 1833.<br />


ST. LOUIS (41863).<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />

52<br />

The confluence of the continent’s most<br />

notable commercial rivers attracted increasing<br />

hordes of investors and immigrants who<br />

boosted <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> from the nation’s fortyfourth<br />

largest city in 1830 to sixth place<br />

by 1850. Farmers seeking western lands<br />

purchased them in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, while eastern<br />

merchants created prosperous futures even<br />

before Missouri entered the Union. Among<br />

the earliest businessmen from the East were<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s first Jewish residents—the three<br />

Polish Philipson brothers from Philadelphia.<br />

They invested in the fur trade, opened a store<br />

stocked with desirable merchandise from the<br />

Atlantic coast, and in 1815, founded the<br />

“<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Brewery,” the city’s second oldest.<br />

Following the example of Laclede, they brought<br />

culture to the city along with their capital.<br />

Joseph Philipson performed and taught music;<br />

Jacob was a tutor of English, German, and<br />

French; and Simon assembled a significant<br />

collection of 150 paintings and 100 prints,<br />

including works by Boticelli, da Vinci, Hals,<br />

Holbein, Murillo, Raphael, Rubens, and Titian!<br />

Many other “Yankee merchants” soon<br />

followed—young, aggressive members of<br />

family firms in <strong>New</strong> York and <strong>New</strong> England<br />

who opened business outlets in the capital<br />

of western capital. They established about<br />

75 percent of new companies in the 1840s,<br />

and by 1850, <strong>New</strong> Yorkers represented<br />

36 percent of all <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> businessmen and<br />

<strong>New</strong> Englanders another 20 percent. More<br />

than fifty financial institutions were founded<br />

in less than thirty years to handle the<br />

58 percent of city investments contributed<br />

by those easterners. The appropriately-named<br />

“Boatmen’s Bank” opened in 1847 as the<br />

first savings bank west of the Mississippi.<br />

Insurance brokers also enjoyed rapid growth,<br />

since 550 very expensive steamboats were<br />

destroyed in accidents between 1820 and<br />

1850. Thirty steamers owned by city<br />

residents sank in only four years in the<br />

“Mississippi Graveyard” between <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

and Cairo, Illinois.<br />

Among leading Yankee merchants were<br />

Daniel Page of Maine and his partner, Henry<br />

Bacon from Massachusetts, who invested in<br />

flour mills. Beginning in 1827, they built<br />

twenty-two others at a rate of nearly one<br />

per year, vaulting <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> into first place<br />

among U.S. cities in flour production.<br />

Hudson Bridge of <strong>New</strong> Hampshire made a<br />

fortune selling cotton, surplus army goods,<br />

stoves, and steel plows. Henry and Edgar Ames

from <strong>New</strong> York invested in meatpacking<br />

and grain elevators, while Connecticut-born<br />

William and Henry Belcher founded the<br />

country’s largest sugar refinery. Oliver and<br />

Giles Filley, also from Connecticut, manufactured<br />

stoves that dominated the national<br />

market. In 1851, Samuel Cupples moved his<br />

woodenware factory from Cincinnati, and<br />

only twenty years later, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> “ruled the<br />

world in this trade.” The furniture-making<br />

firm of Heslep and Taylor relocated from<br />

Pennsylvania in the early 1800s, and within<br />

a few decades, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> had fifty such<br />

factories, generating $5.8 million in exports.<br />

By 1850, manufacturers who used the<br />

Mississippi to ship their products had<br />

increased the city’s custom receipts 1,200<br />

percent in a single decade. The assessed value<br />

of taxable property rose from $1.5 million in<br />

1828 to $43 million by 1855.<br />

Profitable products stimulated the city’s<br />

population growth at a rapid rate. The number<br />

of residents rose from 14,000 in 1837 to<br />

78,000 by 1850—twice the population of<br />

Pittsburgh, which had been founded the<br />

same year. The Missouri Republican reported<br />

that 1,500 people arrived in some weeks,<br />

including 800 in one thirty-six-hour period!<br />

Chouteau’s Pond, the city’s earliest and<br />

much-loved recreation area, which was<br />

drained as a health risk following the<br />

1849 cholera epidemic. Oil painting of<br />

1844 by D. Barbier.<br />


ST. LOUIS (1908 001 0002).<br />

C H A P T E R 3<br />

5 3

Interior of Chauncey L. Filley’s<br />

Queensware Importing House, 108 Main<br />

<strong>St</strong>reet, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, an illustration from<br />

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated <strong>New</strong>spaper,<br />

November 24, 1860.<br />


With the city’s population at least doubling<br />

with predictable regularity, one resident<br />

boasted that <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> had grown larger and<br />

changed more in only fifty years than<br />

“England [had] in five hundred years after<br />

the Norman Conquest.” But <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> faced<br />

a far greater challenge than medieval<br />

England, for it had to accommodate, and try<br />

to integrate, throngs of European immigrants<br />

whose cultures were neither French nor<br />

Anglo-American. As early as 1828, a welltraveled<br />

observer noted that “very few towns<br />

in the United <strong>St</strong>ates, or the world have a<br />

more mixed population,” with “immigrants<br />

from all of the states…[and] people from<br />

all quarters of the world.” As a popular<br />

consumer reflection of such cultural<br />

diversity, the <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Directory of 1840 ran<br />

advertisements for “all kinds of German<br />

Goods,” as well as “French and American<br />

paper hangings.”<br />

In 1850 nearly 16 percent of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans<br />

were Irish, 70 percent of whom were recent<br />

arrivals in the Potato Famine era. They were<br />

welcomed by Irish-Americans who had<br />

settled in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> much earlier from other<br />

states—not directly from the old country.<br />

Those original arrivals tended to be affluent,<br />

accomplished, and acculturated enough to<br />

surmount any prejudicial impediments to<br />

their careers. They included Alexander McNair<br />

(Missouri’s first governor), John Mullanphy<br />

(the city’s first millionaire), Joseph Charless<br />

(pioneering publisher), Sheriff James Rankin,<br />

and Benjamin and John O’Fallon—Irish<br />

Protestant merchants and Indian agents who<br />

were nephews of William Clark. Those and<br />

later residents demonstrated their cultural<br />

pride by organizing the city’s first <strong>St</strong>. Patrick’s<br />

Day celebration in 1820 and established a<br />

private relief agency to help “distressed Irish<br />

Families.” When former judge and mayor,<br />

Bryan Mullanphy (son of John) died in 1851,<br />

he left one-third of his estate to “furnish relief<br />

to all poor emigrants” coming to <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>—<br />

the forerunner of the Travelers Aid Society.<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


Eighteen German families were also in<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> by 1833, with some pre-dating<br />

the <strong>Louis</strong>iana Purchase. Only a decade after<br />

Gottfried Duden circulated enthusiastic reports<br />

about Missouri in 1827, 6,000 Germans were<br />

living in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, with 24,000 more engaged<br />

in farming and wine-making amid the<br />

Rhine-like landscapes of central Missouri.<br />

Among those “Thirty-ers” were conservative<br />

Lutherans from Saxony, who founded<br />

Concordia Seminary, Missouri’s first coeducational<br />

college. In 1835, there were enough<br />

Germans in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> to support a weekly<br />

newspaper, Anzeiger des Westens (“Information<br />

of the West”). Some 20,000 German “Forty-<br />

Eighters”—political activists who had failed<br />

to revolutionize their country in that year—<br />

arrived by the early 1850s to make a permanent<br />

impact on the city. Some of them resided<br />

in Belleville and other Illinois communities<br />

due to the expensive and scarce housing in<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>.<br />

The Missouri Republican in 1857 reported<br />

that Germans had “inundated [the city] with<br />

breweries, beer houses, sausage shops,<br />

…Swiss cheese and Holland herrings. We<br />

found it almost necessary to learn the<br />

German language before we could ride in<br />

an omnibus, or buy a pair of breeches, and<br />

absolutely necessary to drink beer at a<br />

Sunday concert.” The “Vauxhall Beer Garden”<br />

was popular as early as 1823, and thirty years<br />

later, “Uhrig’s Cave” attracted large crowds<br />

that mixed suds with songs, including<br />

operettas by Gilbert and Sullivan. Johann<br />

“Adam” Lemp opened the Western Brewery in<br />

1840 to produce lager (aged) beer, mellowed<br />

in the cool caves under the city. His son<br />

pioneered the use of refrigerated railroad cars<br />

to distribute <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> beer nationally, as the<br />

Lemp Brewery became the largest one outside<br />

of <strong>New</strong> York with a single owner. At least<br />

forty other <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> breweries predated<br />

Anheuser-Busch, producing 190,000 barrels<br />

Old trunks symbolizing the wave of<br />

immigrants who came to <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> in the<br />

mid-nineteenth century.<br />


C H A P T E R 3<br />

5 5

Portrait of Constantin Blandowski by<br />

Carl Wimar,1861. Blandowski (1812-1861)<br />

was a Polish soldier and noted fencer born<br />

along the Prussian border. He served in<br />

Algeria with the French Foreign Legion,<br />

the Polish Revolution of 1848, and both<br />

Sardinia’s and Hungary’s wars for<br />

independence from Austria, before arriving<br />

in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> in the 1850s. As a captain in<br />

a company of German volunteers who<br />

captured Camp Jackson, he was wounded<br />

by civilian gunfire and died following the<br />

amputation of his leg. (Details from William<br />

C. Winter’s The Civil War in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>:<br />

A Guided Tour [1994], pp. 65-66.).<br />


GIFT OF MRS. F. W. SCHNEIDER (179:1946).<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />

56<br />

per year before the Civil War, worth well<br />

over $1,000,000. In one six-month period<br />

in 1854, city residents consumed 18,000,000<br />

glasses of beer—thirteen years after <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans<br />

had founded a “Total Abstinence Society.”<br />

By 1850, more than 20,000 Germans and<br />

11,000 Irish comprised over 40 percent of<br />

the city’s population. The large, sudden<br />

presence of so many “foreigners” with strange<br />

accents prompted a nativist backlash by<br />

anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant Americanborn<br />

extremists in the Whig and Know-<br />

Nothing parties. The “worst riot in the<br />

city’s antebellum history” occurred in August<br />

1854 between nativists and Irish immigrants,<br />

resulting in 10 fatalities and 33 injuries, with<br />

93 buildings damaged. When naturalized<br />

as voting citizens, most of those immigrants<br />

supported the Democratic Party, which elected<br />

two Irishmen and one German as mayors in<br />

three successive elections between 1847 and<br />

1849. Despite facing common prejudices,<br />

the “Scrubby Dutch” in south city and<br />

“Kerry Patch Irish” in north city maintained<br />

separate neighborhoods; rarely cooperated to<br />

challenge hostile nativists; and often clashed<br />

over cultural differences and the competition<br />

for jobs.

Another group of immigrants in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

has received much less attention than they<br />

deserved. In their recent book, When the<br />

Saints Came Marching In, Fred E. Woods and<br />

Thomas L. Farmer revealed that “three to four<br />

thousand Mormons were living in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>”<br />

by 1849, with many establishing permanent<br />

roots. Despite Governor Lilburn W. Boggs’s<br />

1858 executive order to exterminate the<br />

Mormons, “the Latter-day Saints found a safe<br />

haven of tolerance in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>” and steady<br />

employment as well. An official Mormon<br />

publication in 1855 observed that “this city<br />

has been an asylum for our people from<br />

fifteen to twenty years…. There is probably<br />

no city in the world where Latter-day Saints<br />

are more respected, and where they may<br />

sooner obtain an outfit for Utah.”<br />

Historian James Neal Primm described<br />

mid-century <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> as a “city in motion,”<br />

with large numbers of people coming in<br />

and going out on a daily basis. A large group<br />

of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans “went out” to fight in the<br />

Mexican-American War, earning great distinction<br />

and generating future prosperity for<br />

their hometown. Jefferson Barracks mobilized<br />

U.S. soldiers and supplied support services,<br />

while local militia units with memorable<br />

names—the “<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Legion,” the “Native<br />

American Rangers,” and “The Laclede<br />

Rangers”—were commanded by leading<br />

citizens, such as Colonel Robert Campbell<br />

and Major Meriwether Lewis Clark. <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

General <strong>St</strong>ephen Watts Kearny, commander<br />

of Jefferson Barracks, led his elite U.S.<br />

Dragoons in the capture of Santa Fe and the<br />

pacification of California, and he served as<br />

military governor of Mexico City.<br />

The war with Mexico reinforced <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans’<br />

traditional interest in the Southwest. Reputedly,<br />

some residents had smuggled nearly $3,000,000<br />

in silver out of Santa Fe before the fighting<br />

began. No sooner had the war ended than<br />

gold was discovered in California, creating<br />

a rapid rush of prospective prospectors<br />

through the Gateway City. In 1849, alone,<br />

Marching <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Militiamen on<br />

Market <strong>St</strong>reet, a watercolor painting by<br />

Mat Hastings, 1843.<br />


ST. LOUIS (1949 097 0041).<br />

C H A P T E R 3<br />

5 7

Emigrants Crossing the Plains,<br />

steel engraving by F. O.C. Darley,<br />

in William Cullen Bryant, ed., Picturesque<br />

America. The Land We Live In, vol. I<br />

(<strong>New</strong> York: D. Appleton & Co., 1872).<br />


an estimated 60,000 people arrived in<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> on their way to gold-fields or<br />

other western sites. City merchants provided<br />

whatever they needed, from shoes to saddles,<br />

and guns to grub—and especially the famous<br />

Murphy Wagons made in town—experiencing<br />

a more reliable rush of gold locally without<br />

risking their lives in California.<br />

About a third of those new arrivals chose<br />

to stay in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, and the influx of so many<br />

young, unmarried men lowered the average<br />

age of city residents to 21 by 1850, with<br />

males outnumbering adult women by nearly<br />

two to one. At mid-century, over 50 percent<br />

of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> residents had lived here less than<br />

two years, and many of them would remain<br />

for only a couple more. <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s hospitality<br />

industry capitalized on that constant mobility<br />

by operating 23 restaurants and 33 hotels<br />

in 1850—including the fashionable Planters’<br />

House Hotel, where the famous “punch” was<br />

created. <strong>New</strong> Yorker Edgar Ames, who owned<br />

the luxurious Lindell Hotel, was passionate<br />

about “work[ing] to beautify our city,” both<br />

as a philanthropist and a businessman who<br />

realized that an attractive appearance appealed<br />

to tourists. <strong>New</strong> trends in public transportation<br />

kept pace, as twelve-passenger, horse-drawn<br />

carriages, known as “omnibuses,” served “the<br />

citizens of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> and strangers visiting<br />

the city.”<br />

Many of those “strangers” never left,<br />

bringing new ideas and different customs<br />

in attempting to transform fluid <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

society to suit their goals. Ten percent of the<br />

“Eastern Migration” in the mid-nineteenth<br />

century consisted of doctors, lawyers, and<br />

ministers. Some of the most fervent <strong>New</strong><br />

England Protestants hoped to make <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

a “<strong>New</strong> Jerusalem” by “civilizing” what a<br />

Massachusetts congressman called the “wild<br />

men of the Missouri,” who were plagued by<br />

“savage” Indians, “foreigners,” and “papists.” Far<br />

more tolerant, and a great boon to the city’s<br />

intellectual progress, was the Reverend William<br />

Greenleaf Eliot. He was only twenty-three<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


when he arrived in 1834 to found the first<br />

Unitarian church west of the Mississippi.<br />

Ralph Waldo Emerson called him the “Saint<br />

of the West,” as a crusader for educational<br />

excellence, the abolition of slavery, women’s<br />

rights, and the creation of a city art museum,<br />

among other cultural causes.<br />

Less spiritual Eastern capitalists hoped<br />

to make <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> a secular, profitable “<strong>New</strong><br />

York of the West.” They succeeded to a degree,<br />

because the 300,000 people who migrated<br />

to California maintained a commercial<br />

connection with the welcoming Gateway<br />

City that many knew well. In 1858, John<br />

Butterfield’s Overland <strong>St</strong>age linked <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

with San Francisco, the largest town west of<br />

it, while the later Pony Express delivered mail<br />

between <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> and Sacramento. Although<br />

maps depict Independence, Missouri, as the<br />

embarking point for most of the major<br />

western trails to California, Oregon, Utah,<br />

and elsewhere, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> was the true “Mother<br />

of the West,” before and after those massive<br />

treks across the Plains.<br />

Oil portrait of William Greenleaf Eliot,<br />

1854, by Charlotte C. Eliot.<br />


ST. LOUIS (1960 057 0001).<br />

C H A P T E R 3<br />

5 9

H O R R I F I C D I S A S T E R !<br />

By late 1855 the Pacific Railroad stretched to Jefferson City, and although far short of the California coast suggested by the<br />

company name, that achievement was worthy of a public celebration. On All Saints’ Day, November 1, 1855, some 600 prominent<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans, including the mayor and aldermen, boarded a fourteen-car train for a festive, promotional trip to the state capital.<br />

But a pouring rain and a temporary, poorly-designed wooden trestle over the Gasconade River resulted in a “terrible catastrophe.”<br />

Eight miles west of Hermann, the bridge collapsed, catapulting the engine and most of the wooden cars into the river or onto its<br />

banks thirty-six feet below. Thirty-one passengers were killed, including politicians, pastors, railroad promoters—and Henri Pierre<br />

Chouteau, scion of the city’s founding family. At least 70 others were severely injured, and they suffered for two days until reaching<br />

professional medical treatment in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>. Monday, November 5th was a day of public mourning in the city for what proved to<br />

be the worst train disaster in Missouri history.<br />

With few exceptions, natives and newcomers,<br />

alike, arrived in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> having<br />

traveled on, or at least crossed, water, but<br />

the increasing allure of the Far West alerted<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans of the need to develop railroads.<br />

No one saw the limitless potential of one city<br />

dominating both modes of transportation<br />

better than <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s hometown Democratic<br />

Senator, Thomas Hart Benton. He was an early<br />

and influential national prophet for the<br />

profits promised by the “Manifest Destiny” of<br />

westward expansion. He dreamed of fulfilling<br />

the ancient goals of Columbus by accessing<br />

the wealth of Asia via modern rail links to<br />

the Pacific coast. In 1849 he captured the<br />

attention of a railroad planning conference at<br />

the courthouse by pointing to the West and<br />

proclaiming: “There Lies India!” Entrepreneurs<br />

found no incompatibility with investing in<br />

riverboats and railroads at the same time, for<br />

steel train wheels and wooden paddle-wheels<br />

both used steam efficiently and profitably<br />

to transport people and products. In 1849<br />

the river-dredger, Captain Henry Shreve,<br />

promoted <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s Pacific Railroad when<br />

he lived here. Joining him were Yankee<br />

capitalists, Hudson Bridge, Thomas Allen,<br />

and Henry Bacon, among others. In 1853,<br />

the locomotive <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> reached Franklin,<br />

Missouri, at a top speed of twenty-one miles<br />

per hour along the first rail line west of<br />

the Mississippi.<br />

Above: Portrait of Thomas Hart Benton<br />

in 1854, long-serving U.S. senator from<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>. Frontispiece engraving in his<br />

Thirty <strong>Years</strong>’ View, or A History of the<br />

Working of the American Government<br />

for Thirty <strong>Years</strong>, from 1820 to 1850,<br />

vol. I (<strong>New</strong> York: D. Appleton and<br />

Company, 1854).<br />

Right: Although no illustrations of the<br />

Gasconade Train Disaster are known to<br />

exist, this is a nineteenth-century image of<br />

a similar railroad wreck in the<br />

author’s collection.<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


Daguerreotype of Henri Pierre Chouteau<br />

(1805-1855), son of Auguste Chouteau,<br />

and his wife, Clemence Georgine Coursault.<br />

This was probably taken shortly before<br />

November 1855, when Henri died in the<br />

Gasconade Train Disaster. His death<br />

set in motion the transfer of his father’s<br />

manuscript, “Narrative of the Founding of<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>,” to his younger brother, Gabriel,<br />

who donated it to the Mercantile Library,<br />

which published the first translation<br />

in 1858.<br />


ST. LOUIS (40532).<br />

C H A P T E R 3<br />

6 1

Detail of panoramic river lithograph,<br />

“View of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, Missouri”—“Our City,”<br />

by A. Janicke & Co., published by Hagen<br />

and Pfau at the Anzeiger des Westens<br />

newspaper office, 1859.<br />



By 1850 rapid transformations in all<br />

aspects of urban living made <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> the<br />

“American Seville”—a bustling port of a huge<br />

inland empire, where grassy prairies substituted<br />

for ocean waves, and furs were the profitable<br />

equivalents of Spain’s bullion from the<br />

<strong>New</strong> World. Like the original Seville, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

looked westward for its fortune, and increasing<br />

numbers of European nobles toured the<br />

“Grand Emporium of the Great West” to experience<br />

the allure of exotic Indians and majestic<br />

landscapes. A “Who’s Who” of foreign dignitaries<br />

drawn to the capital of frontier America<br />

included Prince Paul of Wurttemberg, Prince<br />

Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied, Duke Bernard<br />

of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, Albert Edward,<br />

Prince of Wales, the Hungarian freedomfighter,<br />

<strong>Louis</strong> Kossuth, and Prince Napoleon,<br />

nephew of the famous French emperor.<br />

Many of those elite tourists sponsored<br />

early western artists to capture the grandeur<br />

of incomparable scenery before the days of<br />

photography. “Painting, mapping, sketching,<br />

and photographing the West were among the<br />

great accomplishments in nineteenth-century<br />

America,” observed historian Howard Lamar,<br />

and <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> hosted some of the greatest<br />

western artists, including: John J. Audubon,<br />

George Caleb Bingham, Karl Bodmer, George<br />

Catlin, Charles Deas, Chester Harding, Henry<br />

Lewis, John Casper Wild, and Carl Wimar. The<br />

paintings of Charles Russell, born in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

in 1865, stimulated a revival of romantic<br />

depictions of the so-called “Wild West” after<br />

it no longer existed.<br />

With an annual economy worth millions,<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> soon resembled old Seville as a<br />

progressive center of cultural refinement,<br />

when successful capitalists became avid<br />

philanthropists of intellectual institutions.<br />

They founded the <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Academy of<br />

Sciences, which had already published thirty<br />

volumes of research by 1856. Businessmen<br />

also endowed the Mercantile Library in 1846<br />

as the first circulating library, documentary<br />

archive, and art gallery in the American West.<br />

For decades, it hosted lectures by eminent<br />

international literati—celebrity writers such<br />

as <strong>Louis</strong> Agassiz, Henry Ward Beecher,<br />

Charles Dickens, Ralph Waldo Emerson,<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


Washington Irving, Francis Parkman, Harriet<br />

Beecher <strong>St</strong>owe, William Thackeray, Mark<br />

Twain, Daniel Webster, and Oscar Wilde,<br />

who came to inspire a growing group of<br />

local intellectuals.<br />

In 1853, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> opened the first public,<br />

tax-supported high school west of the<br />

Mississippi, fifteen years after the city provided<br />

free elementary education. Two decades<br />

later, Susan Blow became a national pioneer<br />

in establishing kindergartens. She joined<br />

William Torrey Harris, the much-praised<br />

superintendent of schools, and other members<br />

of the German-influenced “<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Movement”<br />

and <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Philosophical Society to make<br />

the city “a national cultural center” committed<br />

to educational progress. A growing number<br />

of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans considered free public education<br />

to be the “basis of a republic’s prosperity<br />

and the handmaid of virtue.” The highlyregarded<br />

private Seminary founded by Eliot<br />

was dedicated to a well-educated citizenry,<br />

and it spawned nonsectarian Washington<br />

University in 1857 and Mary Institute two<br />

years later. That gave the city four colleges by<br />

mid-century, following Saint <strong>Louis</strong> University<br />

in 1832; Kemper College, the first Protestant<br />

institution for training physicians, in 1838;<br />

and Concordia Seminary of the Lutheran<br />

Church-Missouri Synod, which had relocated<br />

to the city in 1849.<br />

Churches also played increasing roles in<br />

promoting the civility of urban life in the<br />

frontier West. Catholic congregations expanded<br />

from two in 1841 to eight by 1850, while<br />

Presbyterian churches increased from three<br />

to ten in those years. In 1850 there were<br />

two Baptist churches, five Episcopalian<br />

congregations, and seven Methodist chapels,<br />

plus two African-Methodist churches. In a<br />

single decade, German immigrants opened<br />

nine diverse Protestant churches, in addition<br />

to the sole Lutheran congregation of 1841.<br />

German residents also dominated the<br />

musical culture of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>. In the 1840s, the<br />

talented Charles Balmer formed the Oratorio<br />

Society (the city’s first male chorus), the<br />

Left: View of Lucas Place, a fashionable<br />

neighborhood in the mid-nineteenth<br />

century made famous by Robert Campbell’s<br />

Victorian mansion (now the Campbell<br />

House Museum). Campbell defied the<br />

stereotype of mountain men who died<br />

violently, young and poor. Engraving from<br />

[Richard] Edwards’s Great West…and<br />

History of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> (<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, 1860).<br />



Below: Portraits of Charles and Jacob<br />

Kunkel, German pianists and composers<br />

in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, from the title page of their<br />

“Triumphal March” (<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, 1868).<br />


C H A P T E R 3<br />

6 3

R E M E M B E R I N G T H E F O U N D E R S<br />

Opposite: A <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> city parade from an<br />

1874 illustration in Harper’s Weekly that<br />

closely matches the description of the<br />

1847 celebration.<br />


According to the Missouri Republican, residents had “never witnessed such a turnout” for the<br />

1847 celebration of the city’s founding. Amid flowers and flags hanging from every window<br />

and a military band playing the Marseillaise, the “Most Honored Guest of the Day”—Pierre<br />

Chouteau—arrived in a fancy carriage guarded by four mounted Indians, “dressed in the full<br />

costume” of the Plains tribes. That honor guard symbolized “the presence of friendly Indians”<br />

who had protected and partnered with Laclede.<br />

Passing by the reviewing stand, fronting the courthouse on Fourth <strong>St</strong>reet, were representatives<br />

from every public and private, corporate and civic, organization, from firemen to school children,<br />

marching in a huge parade. Making a grand spectacle was a twenty-foot-long replica of the<br />

General Pike (the first steamboat to visit <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> in 1817). It was mounted on wheels and<br />

pulled by eight white horses. Following that was a replica of an eighteenth-century keelboat,<br />

named the Laclede.<br />

The Hibernian Charitable Society marched under a “Harp of Erin” banner. Its members all<br />

wore green sashes and played Irish tunes. Keeping with the theme of immigration, many other<br />

residents—“male and female, white and black, old and young”—wore costumes reflecting their<br />

diverse native cultures. When the Hunting Club marched by, the crowd cheered a horse with<br />

deer horns mounted on its head!<br />

The most popular floats were the five huge brewery wagons, each pulled by four horses of<br />

varying colors and hauling “mammoth casks” containing 18 barrels of beer. Riding on the<br />

Lemp Brewery float was a man dressed as the King of Flanders, “inventor of beer,” while the<br />

other breweries featured “a good, round, portly representation of a hearty, jolly beer drinker.”<br />

Not to be outdone, the Barrel-Makers Society wagon carried the largest cask of all—holding<br />

25 barrels of beer that coopers had constructed in only seven hours!<br />

The “Parade of Schools” featured students carrying a large banner depicting Minerva, Goddess<br />

of Wisdom, with the mottos: “Knowledge is Power” and “Intelligence, Industry and Enterprise.”<br />

After a long parade and an even longer historical oration by the scholarly Wilson Primm,<br />

prominent citizens conducted Pierre Chouteau to a Grand Banquet in the <strong>St</strong>ate Tobacco<br />

Warehouse. Tables were set for 1,200 diners, but only 400 showed up, since many thought<br />

the dinner would be too crowded. But there was no lack of enthusiasm among attendees,<br />

who drank over twenty toasts, including:<br />

To the Founders of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, for their wisdom in settling the site that was now “the seat<br />

of empire!”<br />

To Missouri, “the largest of the American states in territory and the richest in natural resources.”<br />

To the City of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>—“What it shall become, may be conjectured from what it is.”<br />

Those heavy-drinking diners who were still able to stand attended a Grand Ball at the<br />

Planters’ House Hotel. Its “spacious ball room” was filled to capacity, and “happiness ran riot<br />

in the mazes of the dance, and thus the night was passed.”<br />

Philharmonic Society, and the Polyhymnia<br />

Society—all antecedent elements of the later<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Symphony Orchestra, founded in<br />

1880 as only the second one in an American<br />

city. In 1837, Meriwether Lewis Clark designed<br />

the <strong>New</strong> <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Theater—the first in the<br />

country to have individual seats and a removable<br />

floor. Wyman’s Hall, Bates’s Theater, and<br />

“The Olympic” also became favorite venues<br />

for visiting entertainers. In 1835 the opera<br />

composer, John Howard Payne, drew large<br />

crowds; violinist Norwegian Old Bull came in<br />

1845; and many <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans attended the 1861<br />

performances of African American pianist,<br />

“Blind Tom,” a ten-year-old prodigy. But few<br />

attractions could match the popular appeal<br />

of Jenny Lind, the “Swedish Nightingale,”<br />

whom P. T. Barnum brought to town in 1851.<br />

Offering less high-brow entertainment was<br />

“Captain Jack’s Floating Palace,” with its large<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


steamboat theater and a museum packed<br />

with ancient artifacts and intriguing relics.<br />

The largest crowd ever assembled in<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> up to that point celebrated the first<br />

public anniversary of the city’s founding on<br />

Monday, February 15, 1847. Such attention<br />

for an eighty-third city birthday seemed odd.<br />

But the thousands of citizens who thronged<br />

into streets and saloons, banquet halls and<br />

formal balls, to honor the French founders<br />

hoped to recapture some of the community<br />

cohesiveness of the colonial town that<br />

had faded with the huge migrations of<br />

diverse “foreigners.”<br />

Seeking a tangible reminder of 1764, revelers<br />

honored eighty-nine-year-old (Jean) Pierre<br />

Chouteau—“the last of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s original settlers”<br />

(as a young child) and “the only” living<br />

resident “whose eyes have looked upon the<br />

face of Laclede.” Speaking in French, Chouteau<br />

recalled “the purity, simplicity, and honesty” of<br />

the original town. While Laclede was regarded<br />

as a “common sire” of all <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans, no one<br />

publicly acknowledged that Pierre Chouteau<br />

was actually Laclede’s only son, despite the<br />

widespread knowledge of that blood bond.<br />

Pierre, himself, said only that he had been<br />

“acquainted” with “Monsieur Laclede.”<br />

C H A P T E R 3<br />

6 5

C H A R N E L H O U S E O F C H O L E R A<br />

After witnessing that grievous loss of life, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> poet, Ethel Grey, wrote:<br />

“Muffled and slowly the footsteps fall,<br />

With a dull and laboring tramp’<br />

They carry the dead to the Charnel House,<br />

So cold and dark and damp.<br />

In single rows they lay the dead,<br />

Long files of corpses grim,<br />

Each ghostly face upturned is seen<br />

By the light of the torches dim.”<br />

The “Charnal House,” in Sunset Gleams from the City of the Mounds (<strong>New</strong> York, 1852).<br />

Above: Mid-nineteenth-century bottle of<br />

“Wm. Hall’s Cholera Cure”.<br />


Opposite, top: “Great Fire of the City on<br />

the 17th and 18th May 1849,” lithograph<br />

by Julius Hutawa (1849), showing the<br />

downtown areas destroyed.<br />


ST. LOUIS (888).<br />

Opposite, bottom: A “Laclede Brick,”<br />

of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, age unknown, one of several<br />

companies that made the city’s clay<br />

pits, busy brickyards, and decorative<br />

architectural details famous for more than a<br />

century following the Great Fire of 1849.<br />


H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />

66<br />

That grand spectacle of parades and<br />

patriotic speeches would not be repeated<br />

anytime soon, because, only two years later,<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans were preoccupied with present<br />

tragedies that took precedence over past<br />

triumphs. In 1849 the city endured simultaneous<br />

catastrophes that left residents more<br />

mournful than celebratory. A major epidemic<br />

of Asiatic Cholera raged for nine months,<br />

beginning slowly in January and peaking in<br />

July—when 639 people died of that disease<br />

in a single week, 145 in one day—including<br />

most likely old Pierre Chouteau. Semi-official<br />

death tolls ranged from 4,283 to 4,547, but<br />

some residents claimed that the “Board of<br />

Health doesn’t report one half of the cases.”<br />

Large numbers of dead children may have<br />

been undercounted in the traumatic confusion<br />

to collect and dump corpses in “a common<br />

trench” as quickly as possible. Many<br />

would be reburied in the new Bellefontaine<br />

Cemetery, with little effort for a more<br />

accurate accounting. Since 3,268 Catholics,<br />

alone, were buried in 1849, a total minimum<br />

death toll of 5,500 (almost 8 percent of the<br />

population) was most likely. Some estimates<br />

of mortality range as high as 10 percent, but<br />

whatever the headcount, most historians<br />

agree that <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> suffered a greater mortality<br />

in 1849 than any other city in the nation.<br />

May 1849 would claim 431 cholera victims,<br />

but that tragic news was eclipsed in the middle<br />

of the month when a huge, devastating fire<br />

erupted among dozens of densely-packed<br />

steamboats along the levee, destroying 23 of<br />

them and 9 other vessels. High winds drove<br />

the flames into city streets, and over ten<br />

hours consumed 430 buildings in a fifteenblock<br />

area of the downtown core, from the<br />

Levee to Second <strong>St</strong>reet, between Spruce and<br />

Locust. The central post office was lost, but<br />

the cathedral was spared by brave citizens<br />

who blew up nearby buildings to create<br />

firebreaks before the flames reached that<br />

sacred site. The heroic Irish fireman, Thomas<br />

Targee, died doing so—one of only three<br />

fatalities. Total property losses amounted to<br />

$6,000,000—$502,000 for buildings, $600,000<br />

for boats and cargoes, and $5,000,000 for<br />

merchandise in warehouses. The fire exacerbated<br />

the perennial lack of housing for the<br />

88 percent of residents who rented in a tiny<br />

city of only 4.78 square miles (3,060 acres).<br />

The eminent German immigrant, Henry<br />

Boernstein, observed that the “Great Fire”<br />

had left the “richest and busiest part [of<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>] in ashes and ruins, considerably<br />

outbidding the cholera in horror.”<br />

Both the contagion and the conflagration<br />

left the “unhappy city” in grief and disbelief,<br />

with fewer citizens to recall now-obliterated<br />

old landmarks and dear friends.<br />

But residents rebounded with resilience<br />

from those twin tragedies with a progressive<br />

spirit and aggressive action. They constructed<br />

new buildings with fire-resistant cast iron<br />

exteriors and locally-made bricks, and<br />

increasing numbers of new structures—such

as the six-story Barnum’s Hotel in 1854—<br />

rose higher than ever to make more efficient<br />

use of restricted space. Officials drained<br />

the polluted Chouteau’s Pond; improved<br />

sanitation and water quality; and created new<br />

medical facilities, fire-fighting capabilities,<br />

and quarantine policies. According to the noted<br />

German scientist, Dr. George Engelmann, his<br />

adopted city was “the center of North America,<br />

if not the world…. We burn one third of our<br />

steamboats, destroy one tenth of the wealth<br />

of our citizens in one night, kill one tenth by<br />

cholera…only to show how much we can<br />

stand without succumbing.”<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> survived those natural disasters,<br />

but human prejudices and political divisions<br />

over race relations drove it to the brink of<br />

“succumbing” in the next two decades. At<br />

mid-century, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> had 2,636 African<br />

American slaves (3.4 percent of the city’s population)<br />

and 1,400 free blacks (1.8 percent).<br />

The latter included a thriving middle class<br />

of African American entrepreneurs, such as<br />

Elizabeth Keckley (later dressmaker for Mrs.<br />

Lincoln), who operated successful businesses,<br />

owned property, and collected rents from<br />

blacks and whites alike. Cyprian Clamorgan,<br />

from an old mixed-race family of French<br />

C H A P T E R 3<br />

6 7

Selling people at the courthouse, as depicted<br />

in the oil painting, The Last Sale of Slaves<br />

(c. 1880), by Thomas S. Noble.<br />


ST. LOUIS (1939 003 001).<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />

68<br />

Caribbean Creoles, introduced those startling<br />

revelations to the public in his 1858 book,<br />

The Colored Aristocracy of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>.<br />

The relatively “mild” type of “householdservant<br />

slavery” that had existed under the<br />

colonial French and Spanish became a more<br />

severe form of chattel slavery under the<br />

Americans. In his famous 1847 autobiography,<br />

William Wells Brown, a fugitive slave<br />

from <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, wrote that the “city did not<br />

look or function like a plantation,” but “the<br />

same omnipresent, oppressive social system<br />

prevailed.” The city shared the prejudices<br />

of its Deep South trading partners and<br />

auctioned slaves on the courthouse steps.<br />

Evidence of the infamous “slave pens” that<br />

held such human inventory remained until<br />

1963, when construction of Busch <strong>St</strong>adium<br />

finally obliterated that scar on the downtown<br />

landscape. <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> slaves were prohibited<br />

from assembling in public, meeting at night,<br />

or drinking alcohol and received ten lashes<br />

on the bare back for each offense. White<br />

males over the age of eighteen were required<br />

to serve on community “patrols” to enforce<br />

those regulations.<br />

Fearing that slaves “would be rebellious”<br />

was an admission that African Americans and<br />

whites shared the same rational human desire<br />

for freedom, opportunity, and respect. In 1847<br />

a wealthy <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> businessman offered a $200<br />

reward for the capture and return of a slave<br />

couple he had owned for fifteen years. He<br />

seemed shocked that they were so discontented<br />

as to escape with their three children,<br />

aged 4, 6, and 12. The husband was “of good<br />

address,” carried “an ivory headed cane,” and<br />

probably arranged to reach Chicago by<br />

“covered wagon.” His wife and most of the<br />

children were described as “bright” and<br />

wearing some new clothing. Blacks, both<br />

slave and free, received assistance and

encouragement from Baptist minister John<br />

Berry Meachum, a former slave who founded<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s first African American church in<br />

1822. He operated a secret school for blacks,<br />

while his wife, Mary Meachum, was a conductor<br />

on the Underground Railroad, helping<br />

escaped slaves cross the Mississippi River to<br />

reach freedom in Illinois.<br />

The free blacks in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> were “only<br />

half-free.” After being incorporated as a town<br />

in 1809, some of the earliest ordinances<br />

dealt with keeping blacks “in line.” <strong>St</strong>ate law<br />

prohibited free blacks from coming to settle<br />

in Missouri; learning to read and write; and<br />

assembling in groups. Due to their mobility<br />

and wider range of experiences, African<br />

Americans who had never been slaves were<br />

a greater concern for the white majority<br />

than slaves. German and Irish immigrants<br />

resented them as competitors for jobs, since<br />

they often worked for lower wages. But<br />

prominent citizens were more concerned<br />

with security issues. In March 1835 the<br />

state legislature required all free blacks in and<br />

surrounding <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> to obtain a license<br />

from the county court, and 145 did so fairly<br />

quickly, according to Christine Human<br />

Hughes. But on Halloween night of that year,<br />

Robert Wilkinson, a free black barber, who,<br />

ironically, worked at the Southern Hotel.<br />

Daguerreotype portrait by Thomas M.<br />

Easterly, c. 1860. In the decades following<br />

McIntosh’s murder, such middle-class<br />

African Americans had more to fear<br />

than most slaves because their economic<br />

independence and freedom of movement<br />

threatened rabid racists.<br />


ST. LOUIS (17221).<br />

C H A P T E R 3<br />

6 9

leading residents from diverse cultural<br />

backgrounds met to discuss more stringent<br />

controls over free blacks. William Clark,<br />

Pierre Chouteau, Sr., Pierre Chouteau, Jr.,<br />

Sylvestre Labbadie, Henry Von Puhl, Dr.<br />

Samuel Wherry, William Ashley, and riflemaker<br />

Samuel Hawkins sought to expel free<br />

blacks who had not been born in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> or<br />

no longer had family ties here.<br />

Just a few months later, on April 28, 1836,<br />

such seething prejudices erupted most<br />

publicly when a large white mob, including<br />

two mayors and other prominent politicians,<br />

participated in the “revolting spectacle” of<br />

a “human bonfire.” The victim was Francis<br />

McIntosh, a free mulatto steamboat steward,<br />

who, being threatened with death during<br />

an arbitrary arrest, had killed one constable<br />

and severely slashed another. Outraged<br />

citizens grabbed McIntosh from jail, chained<br />

him to a downtown tree, and burned him<br />

alive, cheering and jeering at his agony. The<br />

“disfigured” and “roasted” corpse remained as<br />

a gruesome warning to all blacks who dared<br />

to assault whites, and tourists for many years<br />

cut off slivers of the charred execution tree as<br />

grisly souvenirs.<br />

Most newspapers feared that such repulsive<br />

violence had “damaged the fair fame of<br />

our town,” but defended the lynch mob for<br />

preserving the peace amid the growing<br />

paranoia about Nat Turner’s 1831 Virginia<br />

massacre of whites and northern abolitionist<br />

condemnations of slavery. Judge Luke<br />

Lawless (well named) found no individual<br />

guilty of murdering McIntosh, because so<br />

many people had participated. Community<br />

consensus against black violence seemed to<br />

justify even the most horrific white vigilantism.<br />

Elijah Lovejoy’s <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Observer joined<br />

the northern press in condemning the judge’s<br />

“monstrous” leniency of a public atrocity.<br />

Hateful residents attacked the messenger<br />

who reminded them of their shame in a<br />

not-so-civilized city. Lovejoy moved to Alton<br />

for his own safety, but he was repeatedly<br />

attacked there, too, for his growing antislavery<br />

opinions. A mob murdered him in<br />

November 1837. Following those bloody<br />

tragedies, new Missouri laws prohibited the<br />

circulation of abolitionist publications and<br />

required black steamboat crews to be jailed<br />

until their vessels departed.<br />

Because <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> “had earned a national<br />

reputation for barbarism” and judicial<br />

malfeasance, city officials strictly adhered to<br />

due process in 1841, ensuring that a slave<br />

and three free blacks accused of murder<br />

received a competent defense in a fair trial.<br />

But after their convictions, a huge crowd,<br />

exaggerated as “75 percent of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans,”<br />

thronged to witness their executions. A boat<br />

company advertised tickets for a passage<br />

to Duncan’s Island to see the spectacle of<br />

“Four Negroes Executed.” The need for white<br />

citizens “to instill fear and obedience in<br />

blacks” then prompted a “macabre display,<br />

for several days, of the heads of the four men<br />

in the front window of Corse’s Drug <strong>St</strong>ore at<br />

69 North First <strong>St</strong>reet.”<br />

Historian Julie Winch wrote that city<br />

“authorities were far from happy that a free<br />

community of color existed at all,” and a<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Anti-Abolition Society was founded<br />

in 1846. According to Adam Arenson, “as a<br />

booming metropolis in a border state, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s<br />

demographic stew mirrored the nation’s<br />

regional, political, and ethnic diversity as no<br />

other city did,” making it “a place of lively<br />

contradictions.” Even the complex and<br />

divisive issue of race, however, had to<br />

have an unequivocal, eventual resolution.<br />

Otherwise, how could <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, the cultured<br />

and affluent “great heart of the Republic,”<br />

claim to be a civilized city while treating its<br />

African American residents so brutally?<br />

In 1847, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> was illuminated by<br />

gaslights for the first time, but that year was<br />

a dark one for the married city slaves, Dred<br />

and Harriet Scott, and their two daughters.<br />

They were suing for their freedom, since<br />

they had been taken from Missouri to live in<br />

Illinois and other free states where slavery<br />

was illegal. They were very brave to take on<br />

a racist system, especially considering the<br />

public violence of the previous decade.<br />

Entering a courtroom just a few steps from<br />

where slave sales were held symbolized the<br />

great odds against them. The Scotts lost their<br />

suit on a legal technicality, but a retrial freed<br />

them on January 12, 1850, only to have<br />

the Missouri Supreme Court overturn that<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


verdict two years later. The U.S. Supreme<br />

Court made its famous ruling on March 6,<br />

1857, denying freedom for the Scotts and<br />

declaring that all African Americans, even if<br />

free, did not have the rights of U.S. citizens.<br />

Chief Justice Roger Taney’s decision also<br />

nullified the Missouri Compromise of 1820<br />

by ruling that Congress never had the<br />

authority to exclude slavery from any state or<br />

territory. Dred Scott and his family would<br />

be freed by a new owner two months later,<br />

but in the years ahead, racial politics heated<br />

up, since all of the West was now open to<br />

the legal, and virtually unlimited, spread<br />

of slavery.<br />

The Dred Scott Case focused national<br />

attention on <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, where polarizing<br />

ideologies clashed in efforts to dominate city<br />

Oil portrait of Dred Scott by <strong>Louis</strong> Schultze<br />

(1888), based on the famous print published<br />

in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated <strong>New</strong>spaper,<br />

June 27, 1857.<br />


ST. LOUIS (1897 009 0001).<br />

C H A P T E R 3<br />

7 1

Abolitionist map of Free and Slave states—<br />

with Missouri in the middle—revealing<br />

nineteenth-century propaganda in an<br />

old school textbook.<br />


H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />

72<br />

politics. On the eve of the Civil War, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

was a populous metropolis of 160,000 people—the<br />

sixth largest city in the United<br />

<strong>St</strong>ates, with annual manufactures worth<br />

$27 million, seventh highest in the nation.<br />

But <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s central location, which had<br />

long given it an economic advantage, now<br />

became a political liability, as northern and<br />

southern, eastern and western, interests<br />

clashed there. As prolonged violence erupted<br />

in nearby “Bleeding Kansas,” and threats of<br />

secession grew, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s profitable river trade<br />

with the slave South seemed increasingly<br />

“disreputable” to the city’s Yankee businessmen.<br />

Many moved their money and often<br />

their residences to the slave-free city of<br />

Chicago, which also offered new investment<br />

opportunities in railroad routes to northeastern<br />

states. By 1860 only 24 percent of<br />

entrepreneurs from <strong>New</strong> York and <strong>New</strong><br />

England remained in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, and their<br />

investments in the city plummeted to a mere<br />

13 percent. Liberal antislavery sentiments,<br />

however, continued to thrive among Eliot’s<br />

abolitionist Unitarians and well-educated<br />

German radicals, who published 40 percent<br />

of the city’s newspapers.<br />

Anti-secessionist <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans embraced<br />

eastern influences that increasingly linked them<br />

to Illinois and other free states—challenging<br />

Missouri’s rural “Little Dixie” counties with<br />

slave populations of at least 25 percent.<br />

In 1861 the city’s mayor was a “Union,<br />

Anti-Black Republican,” and while leading<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans supported a variety of national<br />

political parties, most were moderates who<br />

wanted to expand economic opportunities<br />

for whites without promoting freedom for<br />

slaves. But they certainly did not want slavery<br />

to spread. As early as 1857, Benton disciples<br />

Gratz Brown and his cousin, Francis Preston<br />

(“Frank”) Blair, Jr., supported a very gradual<br />

emancipation of Missouri slaves, but above<br />

all, they wanted to keep the state in the<br />

Union. When they and Virginia-born Mayor<br />

John Wimer won elections that year, Brown<br />

proclaimed that <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> was now “The Free<br />

City of the Valley of the Mississippi.”<br />

In the 1860 presidential election, even<br />

supporters of Abraham Lincoln were divided<br />

into conservative and radical factions over<br />

racial issues. He won the city—9,483 votes<br />

to 8,538 for the moderate Illinois Democrat,<br />

<strong>St</strong>ephen Douglas. But <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> voters overwhelmingly<br />

rejected Southern extremism,<br />

casting only 544 votes for the pro-slavery<br />

Southern Democrat, John C. Breckinridge of<br />

Kentucky. Arenson observed that “<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>…<br />

[was] the largest city in a slave state to vote<br />

for” Lincoln, and its citizens also reelected

President Lincoln’s Cabinet in early 1861,<br />

with Postmaster-General Montgomery Blair<br />

(top left), and Attorney General Edward<br />

Bates (top center) representing twenty<br />

percent with <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> connections.<br />

Engraving from Horace Greeley,<br />

The American Conflict: A History of<br />

the Great Rebellion…(Hartford, 1866).<br />

C H A P T E R 3<br />

7 3

A Confederate envelope retrieved after the<br />

capture of Camp Jackson on May 10, 1861.<br />

The letter inside was dated the day before<br />

and included secessionist sentiments of the<br />

writer, perhaps Captain George West,<br />

a “Minute Man” of the Missouri Guard,<br />

to his brother.<br />


ST. LOUIS (D4592).<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />

74<br />

him in 1864 with support comparable to<br />

that of Philadelphia. Blair’s older brother,<br />

Montgomery, had been one of Dred Scott’s<br />

lawyers and would soon join Lincoln’s<br />

cabinet, while Brown became a U.S. senator<br />

in 1863. <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>an Edward Bates served as<br />

Lincoln’s attorney general in his first term,<br />

while his brother-in-law, Hamilton Gamble,<br />

helped keep Missouri in the Union as acting<br />

governor from 1861 to 1864.<br />

When Lincoln took office in March 1861,<br />

seven Southern states had already seceded,<br />

and a special state convention met at the<br />

Mercantile Library to determine whether<br />

Missouri should stay in the Union. It would<br />

for now, by a vote of 70 to 23, because<br />

secession was considered too radical a choice<br />

to make that early. However, Missouri’s<br />

new Southern-leaning, pro-slavery governor,<br />

Claiborne Fox Jackson, rejected President<br />

Lincoln’s call for state troops to defend the<br />

Union, and Jefferson City took control of the<br />

police in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> City to block antislavery<br />

activity. <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans were hardly united,<br />

however, and they organized rival pro- and<br />

anti-slavery militias that reflected their<br />

cultural diversity.<br />

Rich French families, lower-class Irishmen,<br />

and farmers from Little Dixie organized as a<br />

state militia of “Minute Men” to oppose a<br />

“tyrannical” federal government and raised<br />

secessionist flags above the courthouse and<br />

the old Berthold Mansion of “plantation<br />

architecture.” Frank Blair countered those<br />

pro-Southern forces by recruiting large numbers<br />

of German <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans into the “Blair<br />

Rangers,” the “Black Rifles,” and especially<br />

the “Wide Awakes”—free-soil militiamen<br />

increasingly on the lookout for secessionists.<br />

With his Washington connections, Blair’s<br />

4,000 militiamen, almost all Germans, had<br />

been mustered in as U.S. soldiers under a<br />

new commander of the <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Arsenal,<br />

Colonel Nathaniel Lyon. Supported by<br />

Lincoln, Lyon circumvented the authority<br />

of General William S. Harney, who had<br />

whipped one of his female slaves to death<br />

and was considered too sympathetic to the<br />

Confederacy’s need for armaments.<br />

As tensions mounted, both pro- and antisecessionists<br />

focused on the <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

Arsenal. Founded in 1827, it was the “largest<br />

military storehouse in the slave states” by<br />

1860, with many cannons, 60,000 muskets,<br />

1.5 million cartridges, and 90,000 pounds of<br />

gunpowder that would be invaluable for<br />

starting or thwarting rebellion. In March<br />

1861, the Missouri Militia under General<br />

Daniel M. Frost of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> established<br />

“Camp Jackson” at the intersection of Grand<br />

Boulevard and Olive <strong>St</strong>reet, where heavy<br />

cannons could bombard the Arsenal. He had<br />

an estimated force of 1,000 men, including<br />

300 strongly secessionist “Minute Men.”<br />

When a steamboat arrived with howitzers<br />

and siege cannons captured by Confederates<br />

from the federal arsenal at Baton Rouge,<br />

few doubts remained that “se-cesh” officials<br />

in Jefferson City intended to seize<br />

the <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Arsenal. But Colonel<br />

Lyon was prepared. In late April,<br />

he secretly shipped most of his<br />

munitions across the river to<br />

Alton, in pro-Union Illinois. And<br />

in early May, he disguised himself<br />

as a woman, using a thick veil<br />

to hide his heavy beard, to spy on<br />

Camp Jackson.<br />

On Friday, May 10, 1861, Lyon<br />

successfully attacked Frost’s garrison<br />

with 6,000 troops—the vast<br />

majority being German “Home<br />

Guard” volunteers led by Blair,<br />

Henry Boernstein, Franz Sigel, and<br />

others. Surprised and overwhelmed

y superior numbers, General Frost surrendered<br />

Camp Jackson without a fight or a single<br />

casualty. But as Lyon marched hundreds of<br />

prisoners into crowded city streets, a huge,<br />

angry mob jeered the “Damned Dutch,” pelted<br />

them with rocks, and fired pistols into their<br />

ranks. Lyon’s men suffered four killed and ten<br />

wounded, while three of the secessionists<br />

they were guarding also died. His troops<br />

responded with random gunfire that killed<br />

30 civilians—including one woman and five<br />

children—while as many as 50 other citizens<br />

suffered wounds. That civil(ian) war in the<br />

streets of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> “cast a dark veil over an<br />

otherwise glorious day” for the Union cause.<br />

The carnage on what pro-Southerners called<br />

“Black Friday” was witnessed by future<br />

Union generals Ulysses S. Grant and William<br />

Tecumseh Sherman, who would see far worse<br />

atrocities to come.<br />

The “Camp Jackson Affair” was the only<br />

“battle” fought in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> during the Civil<br />

War, while the rest of Missouri experienced<br />

another 1,161 engagements. Lyon, promoted<br />

to general, captured Jefferson City and<br />

Boonville, driving the secessionist state<br />

government into exile before he was killed at<br />

the Battle of Wilson’s Creek in August 1861.<br />

The support he had received from Free Soil<br />

Germans, Yankee abolitionists, and other<br />

anti-Confederate citizens gave credit to<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> as a liberal Union stronghold. Lyon’s<br />

initiative prevented Camp Jackson troops<br />

from expelling all free blacks from <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>,<br />

as intended by the governor’s racist police<br />

board. Instead, Major-General John C. Frémont,<br />

Senator Benton’s son-in-law, took command<br />

of the city and quickly issued an August 1861<br />

proclamation freeing its slaves. Although that<br />

emancipation was short-lived, given Lincoln’s<br />

priority to keep the key border state of<br />

Missouri in the Union, Fremont successfully<br />

imposed martial law in the city. That quelled<br />

most Confederate sympathizers by incarcerating<br />

“traitors” and spies in the Gratiot <strong>St</strong>reet<br />

Prison, however unjustly.<br />

As Lincoln’s city on the Mississippi, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

was invaluable to the northern cause in the<br />

West. It became the “Arsenal of the Union,”<br />

supplying 40 percent of all bullets to federal<br />

troops. At nearby Carondelet (soon to be<br />

annexed), the talented, self-taught engineer,<br />

James B. Eads, constructed the iron-clad gunboats<br />

Carondelet, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, <strong>Louis</strong>ville, Pittsburg,<br />

and the larger, better-armed Benton. Those<br />

innovative vessels played prominent roles in<br />

General Grant’s attacks on rebel river forts,<br />

eventually leading to the fall of Vicksburg.<br />

Dividing the Confederacy ultimately made that<br />

former <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> resident the most successful<br />

Union commander in the East, as well as<br />

the West.<br />

The Eads Boatyard in Carondelet,<br />

showing the construction of Union gunboats;<br />

from a nineteenth-century publication,<br />

The Soldier in Our Civil War.<br />


C H A P T E R 3<br />

7 5

On top is an amputation saw, with razorsharp<br />

edge on one side for cutting flesh and<br />

a serrated edge for cutting bone. Below are<br />

small, portable surgical instruments made<br />

by A. M. Leslie & Company, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>,<br />

and owned by Dr. O. D. Fitzgerald of<br />

Ozark County, Missouri.<br />



Four thousand soldiers from <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> died<br />

on both sides in the Civil War, but their city<br />

achieved great fame and a lasting legacy as a<br />

humane refuge free of the chaos and cruelty<br />

that gripped the rest of the state. Confederate<br />

guerrilla cavalrymen under William Quantrill<br />

and “Bloody Bill” Anderson shot, and sometimes<br />

scalped, unarmed Union soldiers. In<br />

retaliation, federal troops attacked civilians<br />

merely suspected of Southern sympathies<br />

and expelled some 20,000 residents from<br />

“Little Dixie” counties. Many ragged refugees<br />

found their way to <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>—homeless slaveowners,<br />

a thousand or so German farmers<br />

whom General Sigel saved from death by<br />

ruthless outlaws, and African Americans,<br />

slave and free, from every location.<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> was the most compassionate<br />

and accommodating of all slave cities in<br />

the wartime treatment of blacks. By 1863,<br />

the number of Missouri slaves had declined<br />

35 percent, to about 74,000, since a large<br />

number had escaped to the “promised land”<br />

of Lincoln’s capital in the West. <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s<br />

African American population tripled during<br />

the Civil War, approaching 10,000 by 1865.<br />

The city provided farm plots for ex-slaves<br />

to grow crops and generously funded the<br />

Freedmen’s Relief Society. African American<br />

refugees were housed, fed, and even schooled<br />

at Benton Barracks, along Natural Bridge<br />

Road, which was also a recruitment and<br />

training center for “Colored Infantry.” Before<br />

the war’s end, some 8,000 Missouri blacks<br />

enlisted in the Union Army to fight for the<br />

liberation of other African Americans.<br />

Freedom truly triumphed when Missouri<br />

became the first slave state to abolish slavery.<br />

It passed an emancipation act in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> on<br />

January 11, 1865, by a vote of 65-4, almost a<br />

year before the Thirteenth Amendment was<br />

ratified. To impart lasting value to that freedom,<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> created five “Colored Schools” for<br />

1,600 students, naming them for famous black<br />

heroes—including Haitian slave revolutionaries,<br />

Toussaint L’Ouverture and Jean-Jacques<br />

Dessalines, and American astronomer Benjamin<br />

Banneker. Sumner High School, honoring the<br />

notable abolitionist politician, opened in 1875<br />

as the first public secondary school for African<br />

Americans in the West. By 1900, Missouri had<br />

the largest percentage of black elementary<br />

school students in the South—a hopeful sign<br />

that a formerly enslaved population would<br />

enjoy unprecedented opportunities for equality<br />

in the new century.<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


Another humanitarian contribution of<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> was providing medical treatment<br />

to wounded soldiers of both sides during<br />

the Civil War. Eliot joined businessman<br />

James G. Yeatman and many others in founding<br />

the Western Sanitary Commission. <strong>St</strong>affing<br />

a 2,500-bed hospital at Jefferson Barracks and<br />

funding fourteen other medical facilities, the<br />

Commission had treated over 60,000 soldiers<br />

by May 1864, with an admirable mortality<br />

rate lower than 10 percent. <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans were<br />

truly concerned about hospitalized soldiers,<br />

and city newspapers published weekly lists<br />

of those who had died. Typical was the first<br />

week of November 1862, in which 73 of the<br />

74 deaths among 25 Confederate and 49<br />

Union troops occurred from disease (measles,<br />

dysentery, typhoid fever, and pneumonia),<br />

rather than wounds.<br />

Venerable Jefferson Barracks, which will<br />

turn 200 in 2026, is the place from the Civil<br />

War that best symbolizes <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s special<br />

role in that conflict. Some 200 senior officers<br />

who had been stationed there fought in the<br />

war, and its national cemetery that opened in<br />

Above: “An Ordinance Abolishing Slavery<br />

in Missouri,” lithograph by<br />

Theodore Schrader, 1865.<br />


ST. LOUIS (21818).<br />

Left: “Jefferson Barracks,” an 1866<br />

lithograph by Gast, Moeller and Company.<br />


ST. LOUIS (24694).<br />

C H A P T E R 3<br />

7 7

Right: Title page of Our Nation’s Hero,<br />

a song honoring Ulysses S. Grant, with<br />

lyrics by Miss Ida Schott Taylor and music<br />

by Henry M. Butler, published by Balmer<br />

and Weber in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, 1885.<br />


Opposite: Pottery Booth at the Mississippi<br />

Valley Sanitary Fair at <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, 1864.<br />

<strong>St</strong>ereographic photograph (half view) by<br />

J. A. Scholten. Shown next to the man<br />

with his back to the camera is Mrs. Adaline<br />

Couzins, an early local leader for female<br />

political equality.<br />


ST. LOUIS (51041).<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />

78<br />

1863 reunited many of them from among the<br />

16,000 burials. While the base hospital offered<br />

help and hope for wounded troops, former<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> army officers, Grant and Lee, also<br />

chose compassion over carnage by negotiating<br />

an end to the horrific slaughter.<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> philanthropists expanded the<br />

reach of their generosity by distributing more<br />

than $4.5 million outside of the city to care<br />

for soldiers and needy civilians throughout<br />

the nation. Residents raised about $600,000<br />

alone at the city’s Mississippi Valley Sanitary<br />

Fair of 1864. That unprecedented three-week<br />

exposition attracted thousands of attendees—including<br />

many African Americans—<br />

who, in a notable departure from segregationist<br />

traditions, were served refreshments<br />

without prejudice.<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> women who had been inspired<br />

by work in Western Sanitary Commission<br />

hospitals emerged as political activists for<br />

female rights in the postwar period.<br />

According to historian Lee Ann White, in<br />

1867 Virginia Minor was “the first person to<br />

take a public stand for woman suffrage in<br />

the state,” becoming a leading advocate in<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> from 1879 to 1892. Equally passionate<br />

was Mrs. Adaline Couzins, who served<br />

as a Civil War nurse for the Ladies’<br />

Union Aid Society of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> and was<br />

wounded at the siege of Vicksburg. She<br />

founded the Female Guardian Home of<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> while campaigning for female<br />

suffrage. Her precocious daughter,<br />

Phoebe Couzins, was a Civil War nurse,<br />

the second American woman to earn a<br />

law degree in the nation, and the first<br />

female to serve as a U.S. marshal. At the<br />

American Equal Rights Association convention<br />

in May 1869, she delivered a<br />

rousing speech advocating the vote for<br />

white and black women, because they<br />

were as deserving of legal equality as<br />

black men. Couzins remained an outspoken<br />

suffragist until her death in 1913.<br />

Following the Civil War, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s<br />

humanitarian citizens continued to<br />

resolve social crises without governmental<br />

assistance. In 1879 the <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

riverfront became the temporary home<br />

to more than 6,000 ex-slaves, known<br />

as “Exodusters,” who fled the South<br />

to begin new lives as free farmers in<br />

Kansas. Black churches provided them<br />

with shelter and charitable assistance.<br />

Lincoln’s city on the Mississippi also<br />

played prominent roles in national<br />

politics in the postwar period. Grant, the<br />

hometown hero, served two terms as the<br />

Republican president from 1869 to 1877,<br />

while another <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> resident, Carl<br />

Schurz—the first German immigrant to<br />

serve in the U.S. Senate—opposed his<br />

Radical Reconstruction policies as leader of<br />

the new Liberal Republican movement.<br />

Several <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans also advocated sweeping<br />

reforms of the state constitution, highlighting<br />

the traditional tensions between urban<br />

intellectuals and rural conservatives. As<br />

Wendell Phillips wrote in 1870, “if Missouri<br />

would back up <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> with a liberal<br />

policy…[it] would soon become…one of the<br />

great cities of the world.”

C H A P T E R 3<br />

7 9

“One asked one’s self whether this extravagance [the World’s Fair] reflected the Past or imagined the Future;<br />

whether it was a creation of the old America or a promise of the new one….<br />

[O]ne seemed to see almost an adequate motive for power;<br />

almost a scheme for progress.”<br />

–Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams, 1907<br />

C H A P T E R 4<br />



Train print from a nineteenthcentury<br />

newspaper.<br />


Between 1870 and 1920, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> became a modern industrial metropolis—a rapidly<br />

expanding, technologically-sophisticated large city increasingly defined by its railroads, rather<br />

than its steamboats. River traffic did not end immediately or completely, however. <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

quickly restored its disrupted commerce with the Deep South soon after the Civil War, and in<br />

1878, the steamer Charles P. Chouteau set a Mississippi River record by transporting 7,818 bales<br />

of cotton, weighing some 2.5 million pounds, in a single trip.<br />

But the 737,000 tons of goods that reached the city by water in 1874 dropped to only 629,000<br />

tons in less than a decade. Twelve city companies owned 155 steamboats that continued to call at<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> after 1884, but the trend was to build bloated floating palaces for entertainment, rather<br />

than sleek, efficient commercial craft. One giant boat was 350 feet long and 101 feet wide, while<br />

a rival steamer had smokestacks 75 feet tall and side-wheels four stories high. Ironically the need<br />

for speed on the water, symbolized by the Robert E. Lee’s 1870 record-setting time of three days,<br />

eighteen hours, and fourteen minutes to cover the 1,200 miles from <strong>New</strong> Orleans, hastened the<br />

evolution of ever-faster trains.<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


Once the Civil War ended, the energy of<br />

the nation was unleashed on westward<br />

expansion, thanks to congressional legislation<br />

that encouraged homesteading and the<br />

construction of railroads. The new Age of<br />

Locomotives transformed western landscapes<br />

with unbelievable speed; the first transcontinental<br />

railroad was completed in 1869—<br />

while the last surviving member of the Lewis<br />

and Clark Expedition was still alive! <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

had to act quickly to join that fast-moving<br />

transportation revolution or be left behind.<br />

Adventurous city entrepreneurs had<br />

invested in early railroads since the 1830s,<br />

and they were not long deterred by the<br />

shocking Gasconade Train Disaster of 1855.<br />

The renamed Missouri Pacific Railroad<br />

stretched to Sedalia by 1860, and it soon<br />

had tracks running to Pilot Knob, Macon,<br />

Hannibal, and <strong>St</strong>. Joseph. But the most lucrative<br />

routes had to connect to major eastern<br />

cities, and that required a bridge across the<br />

Mississippi—a daunting economic and<br />

engineering challenge for a city that still<br />

loved its steamboats. The <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> and<br />

Illinois Bridge Company was incorporated<br />

in 1864 with $1,000,000 in initial funding,<br />

but it was already too late. Chicago trains<br />

had been crossing the Mississippi River at<br />

Rock Island, Illinois, since the mid-1850s.<br />

Secure from the slavery controversies that<br />

“southern” <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> faced, Chicago benefited<br />

from a farming boom in northern Illinois<br />

and nearby Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.<br />

Train tycoons in <strong>New</strong> York and Boston<br />

assisted those farmers in reaching lucrative<br />

eastern markets by funding rail lines to<br />

Chicago. No matter what <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s capitalists<br />

did, they could not overcome the<br />

insurmountable geographical reality that<br />

had created an increasingly dominant rival<br />

“gateway to the West.”<br />

Nineteenth-century photograph of an overloaded<br />

cotton steamer.<br />


C H A P T E R 4<br />

8 1

“Pont de Saint-<strong>Louis</strong> by H. Clerget and<br />

M. McAllister,” a nineteenth-century print<br />

of the Eads Bridge circulated in France.<br />


H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />

82<br />

Not even the big, beautiful, and brilliantlydesigned<br />

bridge of James Eads, which cost<br />

$10,000,000 and opened on July 4, 1874,<br />

could slow Chicago’s momentum. That<br />

formidable steel and iron structure stretched<br />

2,000 feet across the Mississippi, 55 feet<br />

above the high-water mark at mid-channel,<br />

and fourteen workers had died from decompression<br />

anchoring it into bedrock below<br />

25 feet of water and 80 feet of sand. That<br />

marvel of technological innovation achieved<br />

worldwide fame and has been an iconic<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> landmark ever since. But decades<br />

of delaying lawsuits between competing<br />

riverboat and railroad investors diminished<br />

its commercial impact at the time, leading to<br />

almost immediate bankruptcy. Bridge traffic<br />

increased <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s rail freight from 3,000,000<br />

tons in 1874 to almost 7,000,000 just nine<br />

years later. But Chicago had a large lead it<br />

never relinquished.<br />

That Midwestern urban competition has<br />

remained a distracting obsession in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

ever since, but it was most intense in the half<br />

century after 1870. Among city leaders, the<br />

rivalry with Chicago led to both an excessive<br />

sense of inferiority and overly-exuberant<br />

expressions of superiority to compensate,<br />

often simultaneously! “In two decades,”<br />

wrote historian and shameless booster,<br />

Walter <strong>St</strong>evens, “no other American city…<br />

adapt[ed] itself so quickly to such radical<br />

changes,” as <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> moved forward “with no<br />

loss of prestige to grasp new opportunities.”<br />

But there was lost prestige—and revenue—<br />

and to cure their city’s damaged pride, some<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> officials resorted to cheating.<br />

The Census of 1870 showed that Chicago’s<br />

population had increased 166 percent in one<br />

decade, but <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> waited to see the total<br />

for its rival and then topped it by 12,000<br />

fictitious people. <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> boosters trumpeted<br />

the news that their city of 312,963 was now<br />

the “fourth largest” in the United <strong>St</strong>ates, but<br />

an official investigation found those manipulated<br />

headcounts to be a “worthless fraud.”<br />

It was impossible to have gained 150,000<br />

new residents in a single decade, and<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> had a “nasty shock” in the Census<br />

of 1880, which added only 40,000 people—

dropping it to an accurate sixth place among<br />

American cities. “Such fraud and deception,”<br />

observed Arenson, “made <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> the butt of<br />

Gilded Age humor” and led some prominent<br />

residents to disassociate themselves from the<br />

embarrassed city.<br />

Despite, or because of, that scandal, a<br />

growing number of vocal locals initiated<br />

decades of exaggerated boasts about<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>. In 1870, the bombastic Logan<br />

Reavis published <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>: The Future Great<br />

City of the World, in which he argued that<br />

the national capital should be a dynamic<br />

commercial city at an ideal latitude in<br />

the center of America. In repeated editions<br />

over many years, he continued to argue<br />

that <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> was already the “undisputed<br />

metropolis of the Mississippi Valley,” having<br />

“grown from small beginnings to gigantic<br />

proportions” and was certainly capitalworthy<br />

as “one of the greatest, wealthiest,<br />

and most prosperous cities in the country.”<br />

Other <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans promoted a “Million<br />

Population Club,” which projected a city<br />

population of at least 2,000,000 residents<br />

by 1890 and up to 12,000,000 by 1930!<br />

Not even the lowest estimate ever came close<br />

to being reached, but the city’s population<br />

did increase 29 percent between 1880-1890<br />

and by an additional 27 percent in 1900.<br />

Detail of the illustration, “Some Citizens<br />

of the ‘Future Great City’ of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>,”<br />

published in the Every Saturday issue of<br />

October 28, 1871. Reavis appears at the<br />

top right margin.<br />

C H A P T E R 4<br />

8 3

Below: Diagram of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> City Limit<br />

Extensions and Population Growth, from<br />

Official Program of the Centennial<br />

of the Incorporation of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>,<br />

October 3-9, 1909 (<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, 1909).<br />

Opposite: Final stages in the destruction of<br />

the Great Mound. Daguerreotype, c. 1869,<br />

by Thomas M. Easterly. Giddy with a<br />

building boom that required the extension<br />

of downtown streets, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans destroyed<br />

the largest Indian mound, rendering that<br />

marvelous ancient landmark into fill dirt for<br />

the sake of “progress”—erecting equally<br />

expendable modern buildings.<br />


ST. LOUIS (17087).<br />

The 1880 Census was the first to separate<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> City’s population of 350,518<br />

from <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> County’s 31,888. The Missouri<br />

Constitution of 1875 authorized a division<br />

that would establish separate governments<br />

for each entity and define their boundaries.<br />

The controversial split with the county in<br />

1876 tripled the area of the city to 61.37<br />

square miles (39,276 acres), with 19 miles<br />

of north-south river frontage but less than<br />

seven miles stretching to the west. Those tiny<br />

boundaries have long been considered<br />

“a crippling deterrent to development.” But<br />

in 1876 residents were optimistic about<br />

how much larger their city was than before. It<br />

had annexed the Village of North <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> in<br />

1844 and experienced a growing population<br />

and booming prosperity in a mere 4.5 square<br />

miles until 1856. Even with the 1871 annexation<br />

of Carondelet, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> occupied only<br />

17 square miles by 1875, so increasing its<br />

size 3.5 times in a single year seemed like a<br />

very generous windfall, giving the city plenty<br />

of room for expansion.<br />

Moreover, many <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans relished the<br />

distinction of being one of a very few<br />

completely independent cities, free from<br />

county legislation, in the entire nation.<br />

Because those living outside the city had<br />

increased 410 percent from 1840 to 1850,<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans wished to avoid the expense<br />

of administering a huge, rural county of<br />

558 square miles, which would dilute tax<br />

revenues for urban needs. By separating,<br />

proponents expected a lower tax rate,<br />

improved city services, and the acquisition<br />

of valuable county properties within the<br />

new city limits—especially the magnificent<br />

courthouse. There were risks either way, and<br />

the difficult task of composing ballot language<br />

required fifty-two planning meetings. Close<br />

election results led to charges of voter fraud,<br />

until a special commission finally ruled<br />

(some said arbitrarily) that the city-county<br />

divorce had passed by 1,253 votes and a<br />

home-rule city charter by 3,221 ballots.<br />

In a Gilded Age enamored of the<br />

Quantitative Ethic, in which bigger was<br />

better and more was better, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans<br />

invested heavily in a late nineteenth-century<br />

building boom worthy of a national capital,<br />

even if the prospects for that ambitious<br />

move were fading fast. <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> promoters<br />

forged ahead with internal optimism and<br />

external publicity to compensate for their<br />

wounded pride in not even being the<br />

economic and population capital of the<br />

Midwest. The city had not constructed a<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


C H A P T E R 4<br />

8 5

Above: The Exposition Building, from<br />

James Cox, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Through a Camera<br />

(<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, 1893).<br />


Below: View of the Chamber of Commerce<br />

Building, from the <strong>New</strong> York Daily<br />

Graphic, January 21, 1880.<br />


major public building since the U.S. Custom<br />

House and Main Post Office opened in 1859,<br />

so the end of the Civil War provided an unrivaled<br />

opportunity to splurge on architectural<br />

and technological gems that expanded the<br />

city upward and outward.<br />

The 1871 Four Courts Building and City<br />

Jail was “one of the handsomest pieces of<br />

architecture in the West,” made of cream<br />

sandstone and “modeled after the Palace of<br />

the Louvre.” Occupying an entire city block<br />

bounded by Spruce and Clark and Eleventh<br />

and Twelfth <strong>St</strong>reets, it contained several criminal<br />

courtrooms, a grand jury chamber, and<br />

offices of the circuit attorney, chief of police,<br />

city marshal, and sheriff. That building also<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


housed the Central Police <strong>St</strong>ation, a gallows,<br />

a jail with a modern “shell of iron” (where<br />

visitors could gawk at the inmates), and the<br />

City Morgue (where “bodies of unidentified<br />

dead persons are exposed for three days”).<br />

The basement had a “Calaboose” for offenders<br />

rounded up in the “Hoodlum Wagon” for<br />

minor offenses: fast driving of carriages;<br />

placing bells or anything else on horses that<br />

could frighten them; public drunkenness;<br />

swimming in the river; serenading in the<br />

street; prostitution; indecent behavior near a<br />

church; or possession of deadly weapons,<br />

including slingshots.<br />

In 1874, the Merchants Exchange/Chamber<br />

of Commerce Building opened on Third <strong>St</strong>reet<br />

and was immediately touted as “the finest<br />

structure in the world devoted to business.”<br />

Costing $1.5 million, that six-story edifice<br />

housed the Merchants Exchange Hall, a<br />

beautiful 221 foot by 62 foot room with a<br />

60 foot high ceiling, trimmed with walnut<br />

and mahogany. It was a popular location<br />

for many public events, including the Veiled<br />

Prophet’s Ball. Another business building—<br />

the Cotton Exchange Building on Main<br />

and Walnut—opened nine years later.<br />

Constructed of stone and pressed brick, that<br />

five-story structure cost $150,000 and was<br />

considered the “finest” such exchange in<br />

the country.<br />

In September 1884, the city opened the<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Exposition Building and Music Hall,<br />

“one of the largest” such structures in the<br />

United <strong>St</strong>ates. Constructed of stone, 600 tons<br />

of iron, and 9,000,000 pressed bricks at<br />

a cost of $750,000, it occupied two city<br />

blocks between Olive and <strong>St</strong>. Charles along<br />

Thirteen and Fourteenth <strong>St</strong>reets. The building<br />

provided 280,000 square feet of exhibit<br />

space and had nine entrances to handle large<br />

crowds. Its Music Hall of 5,000 seats was<br />

cooled by “fresh air sent into the building<br />

by…an immense fan in the basement.”<br />

View of the Post-Office and Custom House<br />

Building, from the <strong>New</strong> York Daily<br />

Graphic, January 21, 1880.<br />


C H A P T E R 4<br />

8 7

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


In 1890, the $3,000,000 Merchants Terminal<br />

Bridge became the city’s second railroad<br />

bridge, with a center span of 523 feet. By then,<br />

no steamboats could compete with <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s<br />

“18 railroads running an average of 200 passenger<br />

trains, carrying over 20,000 people—plus<br />

184 freight trains—daily,” with links to 25,000<br />

miles of tracks in all directions. The 1875<br />

Railroad Depot at Poplar and Twelfth—rendered<br />

obsolete in only fifteen years—was replaced in<br />

1894 by the massive Union <strong>St</strong>ation, where<br />

32 rail lines converged. Modeled after a castle<br />

in southern France, the masterpiece of architect<br />

Theodore C. Link cost $6.5 million and was the<br />

largest and most modern such facility in the<br />

world, twice the size of Boston’s main railroad<br />

terminal. Farther down Market <strong>St</strong>reet, the massive<br />

City Hall—in French Revival Renaissance style<br />

“similar to the Hotel de Ville of Paris”—opened<br />

in 1904 (not in time for the World’s Fair).<br />

Private entrepreneurs also constructed<br />

fourteen major buildings, costing $8,000,000,<br />

by 1892. The Security Building and the<br />

Equitable Building each reached heights<br />

of ten stories. But the most innovative<br />

“skyscraper” was <strong>Louis</strong> Sullivan’s gorgeous<br />

Wainwright Building of 1891, still regarded<br />

as an architectural masterpiece. The Chamber<br />

of Commerce claimed that <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> had<br />

“erected more buildings in 1891 than any<br />

other city on the continent and offers the<br />

safest and best investment to be found in any<br />

other large city in the world.” The number of<br />

building permits issued by the city revealed<br />

both quantitative and qualitative progress in<br />

only fifteen years:<br />

Opposite: Union <strong>St</strong>ation as it appeared in a<br />

1904 photograph by A. W. Sanders.<br />


Above: Skyscrapers, from Cox, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

Through a Camera (1893).<br />


Total Built Cost Brick or <strong>St</strong>one Frame<br />

1876 1,825 $3.5 million 1,361 464<br />

1884 2,609 7.3 million 1,989 620<br />

1891 4,435 13.3 million 2,976 1,459<br />

C H A P T E R 4<br />

8 9

<strong>New</strong>spaper boy and businessman; print<br />

of early twentieth-century <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

street scene.<br />


H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


W H O A C T U A L L Y B U I L T S T . L O U I S ?<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> in the late nineteenth century was praised as a “vast and busy workshop,” where the “products of industry are not only<br />

bought, sold and handled,” but were actually “made here.” Business tycoons and political leaders receive all of the credit for the<br />

productivity of industrialization, overshadowing the indispensable contributions of the men, women—and child—laborers of every age<br />

and race who actually performed the dirty, dangerous tasks that created modern cities. The success of steamboat commerce over many<br />

generations depended upon thousands of black “roustabouts” who did the heavy lifting along the <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> levee. Praise for the<br />

renowned Eads Bridge obscures the many workers who died in building it. In the early twentieth century, the United <strong>St</strong>ates had the<br />

highest rate of industrial accidents on the planet, with workplaces killing 11,000 employees and injuring (often maiming) another<br />

1.4 million in 1917 alone.<br />

In the Gilded Age of rapid industrial expansion, the richest one percent of Americans owned fifty percent of the nation’s wealth.<br />

In contrast, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s 70,000 adult male factory workers earned an average annual wage of only $635, compared to the yearly salary<br />

of $1,000 for the policemen who arrested strikers. The 13,500 women older than fifteen who worked in manufacturing were only paid<br />

an annual average wage of $268, while 2,300 child factory workers averaged a meager $168 for twelve months of work.<br />

Like other large industrial cities, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> “had not served the poor well” for decades, amid “wage cuts, chronic hunger and<br />

unemployment.” In contrast to the mansions of economic elites situated far from the inner city, unskilled workers lived in overcrowded,<br />

unhealthy, and crime-ridden tenements or “shanties” in “Clabber Alley,” “Wildcat Chute,” “Happy Hollow,” and other blighted<br />

neighborhoods, where smoky air, impure water, poor sanitation, and deficient diets shortened lives.<br />

Black levee workers portrayed in a late<br />

nineteenth-century Scribner’s Magazine<br />

article on <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> steamboats; from the<br />

author’s collection.<br />

C H A P T E R 4<br />

9 1

F A S H I O N A B L E<br />

M A N S I O N S<br />

This page and opposite: Author’s composite of fashionable mansions,<br />

from James Cox, “<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> the Carnival City of America,” in<br />

Frank Leslie’s Popular Monthly, XXXIII No. 6 (June 1892)..<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


C H A P T E R 4<br />

9 3

T H E P L E A S A N T D I S T R A C T I O N S O F S P O R T S<br />

In the early twentieth century, most Americans associated the popular ditty, “First in Shoes, First in Booze, but Last in the American<br />

League,” with <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s famous beer, its world-leading manufacture of footwear, and the hapless “<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Browns” baseball team,<br />

which finished at or near the bottom of the American League twenty-six times in fifty years. But as the previous “Brown <strong>St</strong>ockings,”<br />

under the ownership of beer baron Chris Von der Ahe, the original team won four successive pennants from 1885 to 1888. <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

was the center of the baseball world in 1886, when the Spink brothers founded The Sporting <strong>New</strong>s here, the “Brown <strong>St</strong>ockings” won the<br />

pennant, and the “<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> <strong>St</strong>ars” were champions of the Negro League.<br />

“First in Shoes, First in Booze, and Last in<br />

the American League”—visualizing that<br />

famous slogan with early twentieth-century<br />

items photographed by the author from his<br />

collection: a woman’s high-top boot from the<br />

famous Brown Shoe Company, a bottle of<br />

“Columbia Weiss Beer,” with ceramic<br />

stopper, and a replica cap of the old<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Browns Baseball Team.<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s population in 1890 reached<br />

451,770—an increase of 100,000 in a single<br />

decade to make it the fifth ranking U.S. city.<br />

It was now 3.5 times larger than any other<br />

Missouri municipality and had eclipsed the<br />

populations of much older cities, such as<br />

Boston and Baltimore; bested its Ohio River<br />

rival, Cincinnati; and dwarfed its “mother city”<br />

of <strong>New</strong> Orleans. <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> now had <strong>250</strong>,000<br />

more residents than Washington, D.C., which<br />

defiant boosters loved to advertise. But with<br />

severely constricted boundaries, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

would never catch Chicago, now the second<br />

largest city in America. It had recovered<br />

remarkably quickly from the devastating<br />

fire of 1871, which had destroyed 13,500<br />

buildings, worth $186,000,000, and left<br />

about 100,000 citizens homeless. By 1890,<br />

however, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s northern rival had over<br />

1,000,000 residents living in 182 square<br />

miles—120 of them recently annexed from<br />

surrounding suburbs.<br />

Nonetheless, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> was doing quite<br />

well in a much smaller space. By 1892, it<br />

had become a “vigorous and progressive<br />

modern city”—“cosmopolitan in every sense<br />

of the word,” according to contemporaries.<br />

Boosters claimed that in only three decades,<br />

its “manufacturing output showed a greater<br />

increase than any other city in America”:<br />

Year Factories Capital Invested Workers Value of Products<br />

(millions)<br />

(millions)<br />

1860 1,126 $12.7 11,737 $27<br />

1880 2,984 $50.8 41,825 $114.3<br />

1890 6,148 $141 82,911 $229<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


But the desperate discontent of industrial<br />

laborers became evident in the Great Railroad<br />

<strong>St</strong>rike of 1877, as some 40,000 workers across<br />

the country protested layoffs and drastic<br />

wage reductions. According to Primm, “for<br />

four days in late July, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> was the scene<br />

of the first true general strike in the nation’s<br />

history.” Some 5,000 workers seized railroad<br />

facilities and stopped all freight traffic;<br />

pledged solidarity with black levee workers;<br />

and marched through a downtown of<br />

shuttered stores as a brass band played the<br />

Marseillaise, evoking haunting memories of<br />

the bloody French Revolution. The strikers<br />

“ruled the city” temporarily, forcing the closure<br />

of “nearly every manufacturing plant, large or<br />

small.” But wishing to avoid the fatalities<br />

that had occurred in Chicago and other cities,<br />

73 strikers surrendered peacefully to a large<br />

police force on July 26, thus ending the strike<br />

without realizing their goals.<br />

Despite its problems of class inequality,<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s commercial expansion made contributions,<br />

literally and figuratively, to a sophisticated<br />

civic culture. Pierre Laclede would have<br />

marveled at the intellectual achievements of<br />

his city in 1890. Having pioneered public<br />

secondary education west of the Mississippi,<br />

the city four decades later was “acknowledged<br />

to have the best public-school system in the<br />

United <strong>St</strong>ates,” as readers across the country<br />

learned in Frank Leslie’s Popular Monthly.<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> operated 106 public schools, employing<br />

1,254 teachers, who instructed 60,000 students.<br />

There were also 85 parochial schools,<br />

35 academies and colleges, 15 libraries, a new<br />

art museum, 61 artists, 225 music teachers,<br />

and 150 book printers. Residents kept abreast<br />

of current affairs in the city’s 37 newspapers,<br />

and alert, humane citizens supported a wide<br />

variety of public facilities to care for orphans,<br />

the poor, the blind, the elderly, and the insane<br />

in 47 different “asylums,” plus two “female<br />

night refuges” for abused or abandoned<br />

women. <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> was also home to 800<br />

physicians serving in 23 hospitals.<br />

Citizens supported charities as members<br />

of 850 civic organizations and fraternal<br />

societies. In 1892, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans worshipped<br />

in 51 Roman Catholic churches (up eight<br />

since 1884), as well as in 33 Presbyterian<br />

churches, 23 Congregational, 23 Methodist,<br />

22 African American, 18 “miscellaneous”<br />

(including a “Chinese Sunday School”), 17<br />

Baptist, 15 German Evangelical, 14 German<br />

Lutheran, 13 Episcopalian, three Unitarian,<br />

and two Mormon, plus 9 Hebrew synagogues<br />

(up four since 1884).<br />

Residents who liked sweets patronized<br />

325 bakeries and 165 confectioners, while<br />

smokers had 442 different cigar makers to<br />

choose from. There were over 1,400 clothiers<br />

of all types, from tailors and dressmakers<br />

to wholesale merchants and retail stores. The<br />

city could accommodate 16,000 visitors a<br />

day in 60 hotels and 166 boarding houses,<br />

and meals were served in 70 restaurants,<br />

7 beer gardens, and 1,333 saloons. <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s<br />

27 breweries produced 56 million gallons of<br />

beer in 1891, up from only 14 million in 1871,<br />

with the total volume over those fifteen years<br />

exceeding 587,000,000 gallons.<br />

Business and political leaders before 1900<br />

enhanced the urban experience with environmental<br />

and cultural improvements that are<br />

still beloved by <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans. Joining earlier<br />

recreational areas—Lafayette Park (1851),<br />

Missouri Botanical Garden (1859), and Tower<br />

Grove Park (1868)—on June 24, 1876, the<br />

1,380-acre Forest Park opened one day before<br />

Custer’s defeat at the Battle of the Little<br />

“Custer’s Last Fight,” an 1896<br />

chromolithograph, forty-two inches by<br />

thirty-six inches, by F. Otto Becker.<br />

Copyright @ Anheuser-Busch, LLC.<br />

Used with permission of Anheuser-Busch,<br />

LLC. All rights reserved. Adolphus Busch<br />

distributed this wildly inaccurate view of<br />

the 1876 “Battle of the Little Bighorn”<br />

to advertise the Budweiser brand, which<br />

was introduced the same year. This popular<br />

illustration represented masterful marketing<br />

and was reputedly displayed in thousands<br />

of taverns nationwide.<br />

C H A P T E R 4<br />

9 5

H E N R Y S H A W : P L A N T I N G A L I V I N G L E G A C Y<br />

Henry Shaw Mausoleum in the Missouri<br />

Botanical Garden, from the Library of<br />

Congress online collection. Free use through<br />

Wikimedia Commons as the work product<br />

of a federal employee.<br />

Like Robert Campbell, Henry Shaw (1800-1889) was born in the British Isles, emigrated to<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> as a teenager, made a fortune in the western fur trade, and invested heavily in his<br />

adopted city to make it a more beautiful and cultured place for generations. Born in Sheffield,<br />

the English city renowned for its cutlery, Shaw partnered with his father and factory-owning<br />

uncle to import the knives and axes that were indispensable to Indians and mountain men.<br />

Not surprisingly, he also invested in a steamboat named Thames to remind him of his birth<br />

country. But Shaw became an American citizen on July 4, 1843, and soon after enhanced Tower<br />

Grove Park, surrounding his impressive Italianate country house with fountains, statuary, and<br />

gardens. A generous philanthropist, he consulted with the famous Royal Kew Gardens of<br />

London, botany professor Asa Gray of Harvard, and Dr. George Engelmann, a noted German<br />

scientist in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, to create the incomparable Missouri Botanical Garden and to endow plant<br />

research in the School of Botany at Washington University.<br />

Bighorn. Ironically, the city most famous for<br />

daring adventures in the western wilderness<br />

provided residents with a tamer taste of natural<br />

beauty—free of attacks from Indians or grizzly<br />

bears—in a public space larger than <strong>New</strong> York’s<br />

Central Park. “On the first summer day,” wrote<br />

James Cox in 1893, “the luxurious electric and<br />

cable street cars running to Forest Park carried<br />

no less than 105,000 passengers, while the<br />

cars running to Tower Grove, Lafayette and<br />

other parks were all over-crowded.”<br />

Long before Lindbergh’s flight, the “Spirit<br />

of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>” was best reflected in the city’s<br />

superb historic hospitality—from hosting<br />

Indians in the colonial era to entertaining<br />

masses of affluent tourists in the railroad age.<br />

By 1892, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> was nationally known as<br />

a prominent and popular “Carnival City,”<br />

offering many year-round attractions to<br />

visitors from near and far. While some<br />

committed boosters still believed that<br />

“<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> will one day become the greatest<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


commercial center on the face of the earth,”<br />

most residents thought that being the<br />

undisputed industrial, financial, commercial,<br />

and population capital of the “Show Me <strong>St</strong>ate”<br />

was good enough to generate some “Come<br />

See Us” publicity throughout the Midwest.<br />

A broad appeal was made to “seeker(s) after<br />

pleasure”—temporary tourists—rather than<br />

corporate tycoons wanting to buy buildings.<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> offered “fine hotels and theaters,<br />

elegant public and private edifices, fairs<br />

and expositions, festivals and pageants,<br />

picturesque parks, well-paved, tree-shaded<br />

streets,” a transit system that was “the best<br />

in the world,” and “a thousand other<br />

advantages” that will “draw to the city such<br />

crowds of visitors as will in time repay the<br />

cost of the embellishments.”<br />

As booster James Cox observed in 1892, the<br />

city “has for many years been famous for its<br />

Annual Fair, for its Exposition, for its brilliant<br />

street illuminations, and for its magnificent<br />

Veiled Prophet parade. Those attractions have<br />

drawn hundreds of thousands of people to<br />

visit every fall, and its progressive citizens<br />

have decided for 1893 to eclipse every former<br />

effort in the annual festivities, and will<br />

illuminate the streets with electricity and<br />

miles of gas lit arches and pyramids.” The<br />

first Veiled Prophet Pageant debuted in 1878,<br />

and only six years later, was attracting<br />

500,000 people, who attended a massive<br />

public parade with elaborate floats and fireworks,<br />

while sponsors and local elites held a<br />

formal ball, where one of their debutante<br />

daughters was crowned queen. In 1884,<br />

the city began sponsoring a more public<br />

“<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Exposition” each September, which<br />

featured a “grand street pageant” and a massive<br />

trade association display of local products.<br />

Above: Fairgrounds Park during the annual<br />

fair in 1871, from Every Saturday issue of<br />

October 14, 1871; print in the author’s<br />

collection. The Agricultural and Mechanical<br />

Fair, which <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans held annually from<br />

1856 to 1902, “gained a worldwide<br />

reputation as…the greatest exhibition of its<br />

character on the continent” and convinced<br />

city leaders that they could pull off a world’s<br />

fair. After all, the Prince of Wales in 1860<br />

was impressed when he visited, and<br />

Fairgrounds Park at Grand Avenue and<br />

Natural Bridge Road only grew grander in<br />

future years—eventually encompassing 143<br />

acres, with a mile-long race track and an<br />

amphitheater that seated 100,000 people.<br />

Left: Veiled Prophet Poster of 1883.<br />


C H A P T E R 4<br />

9 7

Washington Avenue, c. 1917.<br />



H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />

98<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> also built several large facilities for<br />

hosting major conventions, which became<br />

popular with national political parties for<br />

nominating presidential candidates. In 1876,<br />

Democrats met at the Merchants’ Exchange<br />

Building to choose Samuel J. Tilden; in 1888,<br />

Democrats returned, meeting this time at the<br />

new Exposition Hall, selecting Grover Cleveland<br />

for reelection; in 1904, Democrats came to the<br />

Coliseum to pick Alton B. Parker; and in 1916,<br />

that building again hosted the Democratic<br />

Party, which nominated Woodrow Wilson,<br />

amid protests by women seeking the vote. In<br />

the summer of 1896, the city established a<br />

precedent by accommodating conventions<br />

that chose both the winning nominee<br />

(Republican William McKinley) and the losing<br />

one (William Jennings Bryan), who ran for the<br />

People’s Party as well as the Bi-Metallic Party.<br />

At the end of 1892, James Cox published<br />

a nationally syndicated article and a wellillustrated<br />

photo album promoting the<br />

superior attractions of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>. And at the<br />

same time, Sylvester Waterhouse, a Washington<br />

University history professor, published a<br />

short pamphlet that predicted a great future<br />

for the city. Their timing was impeccable,<br />

coming just before the onset of the<br />

Depression of 1893-1897 and at the beginning<br />

of the campaign by local boosters to<br />

have <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> host a world’s fair.<br />

More than a decade of planning was<br />

required to make the 1904 <strong>Louis</strong>iana<br />

Purchase Exposition and Olympic Games a<br />

reality. A decade before, at the peak of their<br />

civic enthusiasm, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> officials had<br />

applied to host the “Columbian Exposition” in<br />

1892 to commemorate the 400th anniversary<br />

of Christopher Columbus’s first voyage to<br />

the Western Hemisphere. Italian <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans<br />

from “La Montagna” (“The Hill”) had been<br />

celebrating their national hero annually since<br />

1886. But Chicagoans began lobbying for<br />

the 1892 fair in 1885, and they became<br />

so obnoxiously boastful that a <strong>New</strong> York<br />

journalist called Chicago the “windy city”<br />

(as in “hot air”), which had nothing to<br />

do with breezes from Lake Michigan.<br />

Congressional approval and federal funding<br />

were granted to Chicago in 1890, but soon<br />

after, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> became the leading candidate<br />

to host a world’s fair commemorating the<br />

<strong>Louis</strong>iana Purchase—beating out <strong>New</strong> Orleans<br />

for that honor. (<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> also got later<br />

revenge against Chicago when Olympic<br />

officials cancelled the Games there and<br />

moved them to the Gateway City.)<br />

At the forefront of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s fair planners<br />

and promoters was Charles Pierre Chouteau,<br />

great-grandson of Pierre Laclede. He helped<br />

former <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> mayor and Missouri governor,<br />

David R. Francis, and other civic leaders

to raise $10,000,000 locally and $15,000,000<br />

altogether—the latter being the exact amount<br />

paid to Napoleon in 1803 for the <strong>Louis</strong>iana<br />

Purchase Territory.<br />

Even before the Columbian Exposition<br />

opened in 1893 (a year late), Horace H.<br />

Morgan published a book in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> that<br />

provided a detailed preview of the Chicago<br />

fair. That served as a template of sorts for the<br />

1904 fair, and it was no accident that both<br />

global expositions had similar ornate architecture,<br />

temporary plaster construction, and<br />

a fascination with fountains, basins, electric<br />

lights, popular carnival entertainments, and a<br />

huge Ferris Wheel. And during the Columbian<br />

Exposition, the Autumnal Festivities Association<br />

of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> did some crowd-poaching. In<br />

widely-circulated ads, “those attending the<br />

World’s Fair…[were invited] to secure<br />

transportation reading ‘via <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>,’ in order<br />

that a few days may be spent here either<br />

going to, or returning from, the Fair” in<br />

Chicago. <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> enticed prospective tourists<br />

by appealing to “all seekers after the new, the<br />

beautiful, the grand, and the picturesque.”<br />

From May to December 1904, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s<br />

<strong>Louis</strong>iana Purchase Exposition and Olympic<br />

Games received the national and international<br />

attention that the city had long craved—<br />

being the ultimate tourist attraction before<br />

the Gateway Arch was built. And some<br />

620,000 <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans did not squander the<br />

opportunity to showcase “a most inviting<br />

city.” They were willing and able to welcome<br />

P R O G R E S S C A M E A T A P R I C E<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans were shocked and ashamed in 1904 when Lincoln <strong>St</strong>effens,<br />

the famous “muckraking” journalist, published his expose, The Shame of the Cities.<br />

Not since the negative publicity of the “Whiskey Ring” crooks in the 1870s had city<br />

residents faced such sobering revelations. According to <strong>St</strong>effens, “the corruption of<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> came from the top”—the “best citizens”—whose appetite for “boodle”<br />

(bribes) and the “Big Cinch” (illegal collusion of power-brokers) had made city<br />

and state politics dishonest and incompetent over several decades. “Public<br />

spirit became private spirit, public enterprise became private greed,” he wrote,<br />

and “everything the city owned was for sale by the officers elected by the people.”<br />

Traitors to the trust of citizens had done more damage to the prestige and<br />

progress of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> than the Depression of 1893-1897, which the city had<br />

survived as the fourth largest industrial center in the U.S. But public utilities and<br />

construction projects all cost more due to expensive kick-backs and bribes—<br />

which tore at the urban core just when the World’s Fair City was advertising<br />

its beauty and efficiency. The “Big Cinch” was evident in the 1900 transit strike,<br />

as angry, poorly-paid workers assaulted scab trolley drivers, cut electric wires,<br />

and even dynamited tracks, while clashes with armed company goons left three<br />

dead and fourteen wounded citizens.<br />

Tackling rampant corruption was “Holy Joe” Folk, the Democrat circuit attorney,<br />

whose reform agenda was supported by Mayor Rolla Wells and newspaper editors,<br />

Joseph Pulitzer and W. M. Reedy. Folk’s aggressive attacks on corrupt politicians<br />

and their business cronies produced thirty-nine indictments, many convictions,<br />

and positive publicity in addressing <strong>St</strong>effens’s criticisms. As governor from 1904-<br />

1908, Folk promoted modern regulations that made Missourians safer, better<br />

educated, and empowered to keep politics honest and more responsive, while<br />

Mayor Wells created a “<strong>New</strong> <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>” that was finally worthy of being a fair city.<br />

the world because <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> had welcomed<br />

them from every corner of the globe. Twenty<br />

percent of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans were foreign born,<br />

and another 42 percent had foreign-born<br />

parents, while only 32 percent of residents<br />

The Grand Cascade of the 1904<br />

World’s Fair.<br />



C H A P T E R 4<br />

9 9

Map of the 1904 fairgrounds of the<br />

<strong>Louis</strong>iana Purchase Exposition.<br />


H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


C H A P T E R 4<br />

1 0 1

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


were native Caucasians with U.S.-born parents<br />

and only 6.4 percent native African Americans<br />

with U.S.-born parents. Germans led the<br />

category of “second generation ethnics” with<br />

53 percent (fourth highest in the U.S.),<br />

while those of Irish descent represented 17.5<br />

percent of city residents (fifth nationally).<br />

Since 1870, 6,000 English, 5,000 Russian Jews,<br />

3,000 Poles, 2,700 Swiss, 2,600 Bohemians,<br />

1,800 Austrians, and 1,300 Canadians (more<br />

than at any time since the eighteenth century)<br />

had moved into the city. More recent immigrants<br />

had come from Sweden, France, Italy,<br />

and Scotland (at least 1,000 each), as well as<br />

former residents of Africa, Australia, Central<br />

America, Finland, India, and the Atlantic and<br />

Pacific islands.<br />

The 1904 World’s Fair was an incomparably<br />

massive, magical, and memorable celebration,<br />

with something to appeal to everyone. Its 1,270<br />

acres were fifty-nine times larger than London’s<br />

famous Crystal Palace Exposition of 1851;<br />

five times more extensive than Philadelphia’s<br />

Centennial Exposition of 1876; and exceeded<br />

the size of Chicago’s fair by 233 acres. Fortyfive<br />

states and U.S. territories, plus 43 foreign<br />

nations, constructed exhibit “pavilions.” The<br />

twelve huge themed “palaces” had 5,000,000<br />

square feet of interior space, while outside<br />

exhibits totaled over 6,000,000 square feet.<br />

The Fair also featured the “Inside Inn,” the<br />

first hotel operated by the famous <strong>St</strong>atler<br />

chain; an on-site hospital; a restaurant that<br />

could seat 5,000 people at a time; 1,200<br />

statues; 15 miles of track in a scenic railroad;<br />

448 concessionaires in the mile-long entertainment<br />

area known as the “Ten Million<br />

Dollar Pike;” and 70 miles of paved walkways<br />

connecting everything. Education was a<br />

major theme, which attracted 10,000 teachers<br />

from around the world.<br />

Like other expositions of the era, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

celebrated the Progress, Power, Prosperity, and<br />

Prominence of sophisticated, industrialized<br />

Europeans and Americans when compared<br />

to the world’s “primitive dark-hued peoples.”<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans had long forgotten their ancestors’<br />

original opposition to the <strong>Louis</strong>iana<br />

Purchase, as they praised the benefits of<br />

“Manifest Destiny” from U.S. territorial<br />

expansion in the mid-nineteenth century to<br />

the current passion for international imperialism.<br />

The Fair appealed to self-confident,<br />

affluent whites who accepted the racial<br />

inequality inherent in Jefferson’s “Empire of<br />

Liberty” and embraced the more recent myth<br />

of Anglo-Saxon superiority then in vogue. As<br />

the Reverend Josiah <strong>St</strong>rong stated in his 1890<br />

book, Our Country, the “genius” of “superior<br />

Aryans,” who now dominated one-third of<br />

the Earth, was based on their Christianity;<br />

constitutional democracy; capitalism, and<br />

admirable aggression in “pushing into new<br />

countries.” That Methodist minister justified<br />

imperialistic conquests in Asia and Africa by<br />

assuming that it was “God’s plan to people<br />

the world with better material.”<br />

Given that ideology, Fair-goers were<br />

surprised to see the Apache war-chief,<br />

Geronimo, the indomitable guerrilla who had<br />

reluctantly surrendered his last thirty-six<br />

followers in 1886 even when surrounded by<br />

5,000 U.S. troops. He was temporarily<br />

released from prison to attend the Exposition<br />

because he now symbolized the “pacified<br />

Indian” and “behaved” accordingly. Whether<br />

he was sincere or not, the old and infirm<br />

“celebrity” Geronimo seemingly embraced<br />

capitalism by selling autographs and photographs,<br />

posing in an automobile, and even<br />

riding the huge Ferris Wheel. After viewing<br />

the “anthropological zoo” of so-called “savage”<br />

native peoples with “primitive” lifeways,<br />

the aged Apache rebel allegedly declared that<br />

many of them needed to learn “how to dress<br />

and how to behave.”<br />

Only about one percent of Exposition<br />

attendees were African Americans. The<br />

prevalence of segregated restaurants and the<br />

absence of exhibits about black progress<br />

made them feel unwelcome. A “Negro Day”<br />

or “Emancipation Day,” scheduled for<br />

August 1, 1904, when Booker T. Washington<br />

was to deliver an address, was canceled to<br />

placate white exhibiters and attendees from<br />

the Deep South. The Fair did employ large<br />

numbers of African Americans, and some<br />

black <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans were pleasantly surprised<br />

that racial discrimination was not worse.<br />

The first Olympic Games held in the<br />

United <strong>St</strong>ates (only the third of the modern<br />

era) attracted 651 athletes—645 men and six<br />

Opposite: French Poster Advertising<br />

the <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> 1904 Exposition,<br />

1903 color lithograph by Czech artist,<br />

Alphonse Mucha. Circulated in France,<br />

this poster stimulated tourism by focusing<br />

on French <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s historic association<br />

with Indians.<br />




PURCHASE EXPOSITION (40:1969).<br />

Below: Silver Olympic medal from 1904.<br />



C H A P T E R 4<br />

1 0 3

women (all archers) from 12 nations. They<br />

competed in 18 sports between August 29<br />

and September 3. Americans comprised 523<br />

of the competitors and won 239 of the<br />

medals (78 gold, 82 silver, and 79 bronze);<br />

Germans won 13 medals, the second largest<br />

number. The <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Olympics is most<br />

remembered for its oddities: a talented<br />

gymnast with a wooden leg, who won 6<br />

medals (3 golds) in one day; an all-Mohawk<br />

Indian lacrosse team; and a marathon won<br />

by a runner who received two doses of rat<br />

poison, brandy, and raw eggs during the<br />

race and beat a disqualified cheat who rode<br />

in a car for ten miles! More significantly, the<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Games featured the first African<br />

Americans—hurdler George Poage and highjumper<br />

Joseph <strong>St</strong>adler—ever to compete, and<br />

win medals, in any Olympics.<br />

Hosting a World’s Fair and the Olympic<br />

Games simultaneously was an unprecedented<br />

achievement for any city and has never happened<br />

since. Together, those events drew an<br />

official total of 19.7 million attendees, but<br />

that figure included only 12.8 million “paid<br />

admissions” and did not exclude employees<br />

who re-entered the fairgrounds each day.<br />

After exhaustive research, however, historian<br />

James Gilbert recently concluded that only<br />

4,000,000 “one-time different patrons”<br />

attended the <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Exposition. (He also<br />

reduced the totals for the 1893 Chicago Fair<br />

from a claimed 27 million attendees to only<br />

5.5 million). While historians must challenge<br />

the self-serving totals supplied by sponsors<br />

(the man in charge of Fair publicity was<br />

called the “Director of Exploitation”), repeat<br />

visitors who were not employees or even<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> residents should be counted, since<br />

there were far too many attractions to see<br />

and things to do in a single day.<br />

Although critical about details, Gilbert’s<br />

book, Whose Fair?, concluded that the <strong>Louis</strong>iana<br />

Purchase Exposition was “the largest world’s<br />

fair ever held” and provided an “an immense<br />

and exhilarating experience for the city of<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>.” The patrician <strong>New</strong> England historian,<br />

Henry Adams, was less complimentary. He<br />

came to the Fair ten years after his last visit<br />

to <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> and found “everything new” in the<br />

city—except its “reeking smoke.” He thought<br />

the Exposition to be an “acutely interesting”<br />

creation of “a third-rate town” that lacked<br />

“history, education, unity, or art,” but “doing<br />

what London, Paris, or <strong>New</strong> York would have<br />

shrunk from attempting.” <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> “threw away<br />

thirty or forty million dollars on a pageant<br />

as ephemeral as a stage flat,” he wrote, and<br />

by holding that extravaganza in Forest Park,<br />

“the city had turned its back on the noblest<br />

work of nature”—the Mississippi River.<br />

Investments were far from wasted, however,<br />

since the Fair produced a profit of $600,000<br />

that the city used to construct the Jefferson<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


Memorial Building as the home of the Missouri<br />

<strong>Historic</strong>al Society; transform the Palace of Fine<br />

Arts into the Saint <strong>Louis</strong> Art Museum; build<br />

the World’s Fair Pavilion where the <strong>St</strong>ate of<br />

Missouri Building had stood; and cast the<br />

bronze <strong>St</strong>atue of Saint <strong>Louis</strong>. After the Fair was<br />

dismantled, the city also planted 75,000 new<br />

trees and shrubs and made other improvements<br />

in Forest Park. In addition, the Exposition’s<br />

massive and much-admired birdcage was later<br />

purchased from the Smithsonian Institution<br />

and remains a distinctive feature of the Saint<br />

<strong>Louis</strong> Zoo. The Fair also pumped millions of<br />

dollars into the local economy through wages,<br />

sales, the construction of twelve new hotels,<br />

and investments in city infrastructure, such as<br />

making Lindell, Skinker, and Kingshighway wellpaved<br />

modern streets. <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> finally cleaned<br />

up its infamous brown, gritty water—which<br />

Mark Twain quipped was too thick to drink and<br />

too shallow to plow—not for the health of longsuffering<br />

residents but to make the many<br />

Exposition fountains and other water features<br />

look better! But of all the legacies of that special<br />

season in the sun, the most beloved and enduring<br />

was the popular song, Meet Me in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>.<br />

View of the <strong>Louis</strong>iana Purchase Exposition<br />

Grounds from the Ferris Wheel, 1904.<br />


C H A P T E R 4<br />

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Above: Line of automobiles along Chestnut<br />

Avenue near Ninth <strong>St</strong>reet as photographed<br />

in 1914.<br />



Right: Vintage 1907 ad for the “<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>”<br />

brand automobile.<br />


H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


“<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> is a city that outgrew its past, and added half a million to its population<br />

after its early reason for existence had almost vanished.”<br />

–WPA Guide to the Show Me <strong>St</strong>ate, 1941<br />

C H A P T E R 5<br />



The <strong>Louis</strong>iana Purchase Exposition was a chronological mid-point between the optimism of<br />

booming growth in the 1800s and the pessimism of looming crises in the late twentieth century.<br />

In 1904 the automobile age had barely arrived, and the slow, primitive car that carried one<br />

runner around the Olympic marathon course could not compare with sophisticated vehicles<br />

transformed by transportation technology in the following decades. The increasing speeds of<br />

each new model symbolized the rapid pace of social changes, as traditional norms faded as<br />

fast as the mythical fantasies of the World’s Fair.<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans created a monster in 1904, temporarily believing that their city was better than it<br />

was. But the World’s Fair represented only a brief compensatory overconfidence of citizens with<br />

a prolonged inferiority complex. The <strong>Louis</strong>iana Purchase Exposition overshadowed almost<br />

everything that followed it—and those shadows were dark, indeed, making each new urban<br />

initiative seem puny and petty by comparison. Memories of the 1904 Exposition grew more<br />

grandiose and misleading over time, as the city’s future crises prompted comforting nostalgia<br />

for the good old days, increasing exasperation with the present. Politicians and city planners<br />

committed to the “City Beautiful Movement” and subsequent “Model City” initiatives soon<br />

realized that a few fake plaster buildings on a mere 1,200-acre fairground could not be translated<br />

into realistic, sustainable solutions to the complex problems of a large modern metropolis.<br />

C H A P T E R 5<br />

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Opposite: Poster (printed broadside)<br />

advertising the Pageant and Masque of<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> in Forest Park, May 28-31, 1914.<br />


ST. LOUIS (AO 181-7060).<br />

S T . L O U I S A N S O N T H E T I T A N I C<br />

The shocking reports of the Titanic disaster on April 15, 1912 had many<br />

Americans searching newspapers for information on local deaths among the<br />

1,500 victims. Fortunately, no <strong>St</strong>. Lousians were among the fatalities, although a<br />

Daniel Keane of Limerick, Ireland, drowned on his way to visit the city. Residents<br />

who survived that harrowing ordeal included these passengers, all traveling in<br />

first class:<br />

Mr. Spencer Victor Silverthorne, aged 35<br />

Miss Georgette Alexandra Madill, 16<br />

Miss Elizabeth Walton Allen, 29<br />

Mrs. Elisabeth Walton Robert (nee McMillan), 43<br />

Miss Emilie Kreuchen, 29, maid of Mrs. Robert<br />

Smitten by spectacle, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans hosted<br />

other celebratory events related to the city’s<br />

history in the decade after 1904, often as<br />

an antidote of fantasy to harsh realities.<br />

In October 1909, the city commemorated<br />

the centennial of its incorporation as a<br />

town, presenting multiple events during<br />

“One Hundred <strong>Years</strong> in a Week.” More than<br />

$85,000 in private donations funded parades,<br />

a grand illumination, a multicultural ball,<br />

children’s activities on Art Hill, the public<br />

dedication of the new Municipal Courts<br />

Building, plane flights by Glenn Curtiss,<br />

balloon ascensions, a water pageant featuring<br />

several U.S. Navy torpedo boats, and a<br />

huge banquet for four hundred mayors from<br />

thirty states. Organizers hoped “to use the<br />

Centennial cerebration as a lever for the<br />

extension of the city’s reputation,” and by<br />

displaying over 1,000 cars—the most ever<br />

assembled in the Mississippi Valley—that<br />

reputation was now focused on modernity<br />

as much as history.<br />

Only five years later, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans in 1914<br />

celebrated the city’s 150th anniversary. There<br />

had been no recognition of the <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

Centennial in 1864, due to the Civil War, so<br />

boosters sought to throw the biggest birthday<br />

bash ever. They had much to celebrate.<br />

The 1910 census confirmed that <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

remained the nation’s fourth largest city,<br />

having increased its population over 19<br />

percent for a total of 687,029. Some 590,000<br />

residents were gainfully employed, and every<br />

category of workers had risen dramatically<br />

(31 percent for children, 42 percent for<br />

women, and 24 percent for adult males).<br />

In a single decade, industrial investments<br />

had increased 15 percent to $269 million,<br />

and the value of manufactured products<br />

($430 million) had grown by 79 percent.<br />

Such prosperity contributed to the success<br />

of several expensive and grandiose events in<br />

the 1914 commemoration. Nearly 8,000<br />

residents performed in two huge dramatic<br />

productions on Art Hill for audiences that<br />

totaled 455,000 in only five May evenings.<br />

A Pageant, written by Thomas Wood <strong>St</strong>evens,<br />

was a historical play that chronicled the area’s<br />

evolution from ancient Cahokia to the Civil<br />

War. In a more mystical Masque by east coast<br />

playwright Percy MacKaye, poetic dialogue<br />

between <strong>Louis</strong> IX, a character called “Cahokia,”<br />

and other cast members focused more on<br />

the city’s recent history and future prospects.<br />

The script emphasized how a new “League<br />

of Cities” in the Progressive Era could overcome<br />

the evil influence of “Gold” if citizens<br />

cooperated in promoting beauty and order,<br />

democratic reforms and humane institutions.<br />

But that play also recognized the inevitability<br />

of urban decline: “We, too, like Cahokia, shall<br />

lie down, /And this our city be a silent mound.”<br />

While some <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans were optimistic<br />

about transforming “the sordid world” into<br />

delightful “dreams,” the absence of blacks in<br />

speaking parts and promotional materials<br />

undermined “Brother with Brother” idealism.<br />

The only lasting impact of those sesquicentennial<br />

dramas was the creation of the<br />

Municipal Opera (MUNY) in 1919 as a<br />

permanent, popular outdoor theater experience<br />

on summer evenings in the park.<br />

However, racism lasted far longer. African<br />

Americans were not welcome at MUNY<br />

performances until 1954 and the recentlydeceased<br />

Pelagie Green Wren, a descendant<br />

of Jacques Clamorgan, became the first black<br />

dancer at the MUNY only in 1962.<br />

The years that followed the idealistic<br />

public performances in 1914 tested the<br />

private prejudices of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans with regard<br />

to a revolution in race relations. Economic<br />

depression and Jim Crow oppression in<br />

the Deep South created the “Great Black<br />

Migration” in the early twentieth century.<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> was a favorite destination of fleeing<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


C H A P T E R 5<br />

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Above: Team photograph of the <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

<strong>St</strong>ars, 1928 World Champions of the<br />

National Negro Baseball League.<br />

Photograph by L. H. Beckman, 1928.<br />


ST. LOUIS (22514).<br />

Opposite: Cover of sheet music for the<br />

Tuskegee March, 1906, by Professor<br />

William Blue, whose fifty-piece Shrine Band<br />

performed concerts in the <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> area.<br />



African Americans, because it was the first<br />

major industrial metropolis they encountered<br />

traveling up the Mississippi, midway between<br />

the farms of the Deep South and the factories<br />

of the Far North. As the historic “Union city”<br />

located closest to Dixie, as well as a “Jim<br />

Crow” region farthest from the “real” South,<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> represented an agonizing disparity<br />

between its idealistic aspirations of the Civil<br />

War and pessimistic realities as of World War I.<br />

The city’s “polite racism” avoided the worst<br />

white supremacist violence and allowed<br />

integrated libraries and streetcars, but few<br />

other places, including schools. African<br />

Americans could vote for city officeholders,<br />

but not marry whites.<br />

Black <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans increased from 35,000<br />

in 1900 to 80,000 by 1920, as African<br />

Americans doubled their percentage of the<br />

population to 9 percent by that latter date.<br />

In 1920, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> had the eighth largest<br />

black population in the nation, and a decade<br />

later, the percentage of African Americans in<br />

the city reached 11.5—outnumbering foreignborn<br />

Caucasians for the first time. Increasing<br />

numbers of black migrants from different<br />

areas enriched <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> culture with new<br />

musical traditions, such as ragtime, jazz,<br />

blues, and later swing, that made the city<br />

famous. Old slave rhythms from cotton fields<br />

mingled with steamboat songs and creative<br />

piano playing to showcase the talents of Scott<br />

Joplin, Tom Turpin, Blind Boone, Joe Jordan,<br />

<strong>Louis</strong> Chauvin, Charlie Warfield, Roosevelt<br />

Sykes, Henry Townsend, and other entertainers.<br />

W. C. Handy’s <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Blues and<br />

Bill Dooley’s Frankie Killed Johnnie were early<br />

musical “hits” nationwide. Charles Turpin’s<br />

Booker T. Washington Theater on Market<br />

<strong>St</strong>reet featured famous performances by<br />

Eubie Blake, Ethel Waters, Bessie Smith, and<br />

young <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>an, Josephine Baker, before<br />

she became a leading act at Les Folies Bergere<br />

in Paris. In James Weldon Johnson’s 1908<br />

song, Lift Every Voice and Sing, he expressed<br />

the optimism of fellow African Americans<br />

in the early stages of the Black Migration:<br />

“Sing a song full of the faith that the dark<br />

Past has taught us;/Sing a song full of the<br />

hope that the Present has brought us.”<br />

Such optimistic sentiments, however, did<br />

not reflect the despair of unfulfilled equality<br />

for blacks over the next century. The severe<br />

lack of available, affordable, and adequate<br />

housing, exacerbated by institutionalized racial<br />

segregation, became a perennial problem for<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


C H A P T E R 5<br />

1 1 1

Anti-Segregationist Voting Flyer, 1916.<br />


H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />

112<br />

throngs of African Americans over many generations.<br />

As early as 1911 white responses to<br />

the “negro invasion” led to zoning ordinances<br />

and collusions of exclusion by realtors and<br />

landlords. Historian Clarence Lang wrote that<br />

artificially restrictive housing patterns created<br />

a “Black Archipelago”—“islands of vibrant<br />

black social life surrounded by seas of white<br />

racism and hostility.” The situation worsened<br />

in 1916, when <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> became the first city<br />

in the nation “to pass a housing segregation<br />

ordnance through initiative petition and<br />

direct vote.” The segregationists won 52,220<br />

to 17,877 to further restrict blacks to only<br />

three areas of the city’s worst housing, even<br />

though 23 of 28 aldermen opposed the law.<br />

The U.S. Supreme Court struck it down, but<br />

restrictive covenants and private prejudices<br />

continued, leading to the creation of the<br />

Urban League of Metropolitan <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>.<br />

Housing restrictions paled in comparison<br />

to the headline-grabbing massacre in East<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>. In 1917 that nearby Illinois<br />

community experienced “the most serious<br />

race riot of the century”—worse than 17<br />

other acts of wholesale violence in the U.S.<br />

from 1915 to 1919. White mobs slaughtered<br />

at least 100 people, almost all African<br />

Americans, and injured another 500 victims,<br />

young and old alike. Entire neighborhoods<br />

were ravaged, with 312 buildings destroyed.<br />

According to Ann Morris, “fires lit the<br />

night sky with a terrible glow as thousands<br />

[of black survivors] fled across the bridges<br />

to <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, where city officials and the<br />

Red Cross provided help.”

World War I Red Cross Poster, 1917.<br />


While Americans had failed to solve<br />

interracial violence at home, they joined an<br />

overseas war in 1917 to curtail international<br />

violence abroad. Just as they had helped<br />

relieve the suffering of East <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> refugees,<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans revealed their compassion in<br />

record-setting World War I food drives to<br />

help save starving Europeans. City residents<br />

managed to channel their patriotism in<br />

constructive ways, although there were some<br />

incidents of non-lethal hostility against<br />

citizens of German heritage. <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans lost<br />

1,075 of their sons in the “Great War,” and<br />

city officials quickly planned to honor them<br />

with a permanent monument. But it took<br />

funding by the <strong>New</strong> Deal before the Soldiers’<br />

Memorial on Chestnut <strong>St</strong>reet finally opened<br />

in 1938. A monument across the street marks<br />

C H A P T E R 5<br />

1 1 3

T H E H E A L T H O F T H E C I T Y<br />

Boosters in 1893 had declared that <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> was the “healthiest large city in America,” citing a below-average death rate of 21 people<br />

per thousand. But by 1900 fewer than 23 percent of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans owned their own residences, and the poorest households averaged<br />

seven people crammed into ramshackle, squalid tenements. They suffered disproportionately from tuberculosis, pneumonia, and other lung<br />

diseases exacerbated by the city’s perpetually smoky air from burning high-sulfur coal. According to historian Robbi Courtaway, in 1924 a<br />

new smoke detector at Shaw’s Garden revealed that “each <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>an inhaled fifteen table-spoons of soot every five days as a result of<br />

the soft coal used in most home furnaces” and factories. “After smoke killed off…the finest collection of evergreens in the United <strong>St</strong>ates<br />

[1923], Garden officials…[bought] land in Gray’s Summit on which they built eight greenhouses…for the garden’s precious orchids.”<br />

Citizens had to wait longer than those flowers, and downtown smoke worsened every year until it was abated by law in 1942.<br />

Right: “Black Tuesday,” November 11, 1939,<br />

when air pollution obscured the Civil Courts<br />

Building at mid-day.<br />


MUSEUM, ST. LOUIS (14586).<br />

Opposite: In troubled times, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans<br />

opened the massive and magnificent<br />

Cathedral Basilica of Saint <strong>Louis</strong> in 1917,<br />

after seven years of construction. As the<br />

mother church of the archdiocese, the<br />

“<strong>New</strong> Cathedral” occupied an entire city<br />

block on Lindell Boulevard, far from the<br />

riverfront, and broke with both French<br />

and American architectural traditions.<br />

Its 83,000 square feet of world-class<br />

mosaics made the cathedral a virtual art<br />

museum for non-believers and Catholics<br />

alike. Before the Gateway Arch became<br />

the world’s fourth most visited tourist site,<br />

souvenir pennants advertised the cathedral,<br />

the Central Branch of the Public Library,<br />

and the Nathan Frank Band <strong>St</strong>and in<br />

Forest Park as the three “must see”<br />

attractions in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>.<br />


H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


the site where <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> veterans founded the<br />

American Legion on May 8, 1919, and a nearby<br />

wall honors the city’s dead from several wars.<br />

The war was barely over when the devastating<br />

Spanish Influenza Epidemic struck the<br />

city in 1918. It killed 40,000,000 people<br />

worldwide and 675,000 in America, but<br />

because “<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> was the only city to institute<br />

community-wide business closures”<br />

quickly enough, the city enjoyed an enviably<br />

small death toll. Of the 32,000 residents who<br />

caught the flu, only 2,000 died, thanks to<br />

city-wide quarantines initiated by the talented<br />

health commissioner, Dr. Max C. <strong>St</strong>arkloff,<br />

with strong support from Mayor Henry Kiel.<br />

Significant changes came fast in postwar<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>. The many local women who had<br />

staged demonstrations for female voting<br />

rights from the post-Civil War era to the<br />

1916 Democratic convention here finally<br />

achieved their goal. After seventy years of<br />

struggle, the Nineteenth Amendment was<br />

C H A P T E R 5<br />

1 1 5

atified in 1920. Building upon that victory<br />

for the full rights of citizenship, local<br />

women’s organizations became more<br />

politically influential, in the tradition of<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s pioneering female activists. A<br />

pamphlet, entitled An Aid to the Woman Voter<br />

in Missouri, was co-sponsored by the Missouri<br />

Federation of Women’s Clubs, Women’s<br />

Christian Temperance Union, Missouri Women’s<br />

Council of Defense, the Lady Maccabees,<br />

P.E.O., Missouri Equal Suffrage Association,<br />

the <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Equal Suffrage Association, the<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Equal Suffrage League, and the<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Business Women’s Suffrage League.<br />

There was barely time to celebrate the<br />

female franchise, however, when Prohibition<br />

cast a dark shadow over the region. The<br />

Missouri Temperance Society had been headquartered<br />

in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> for many decades, but<br />

neither pro- nor anti-alcohol supporters were<br />

prepared for the massive socio-economic<br />

changes that accompanied the enforcement of<br />

the Eighteenth Amendment in January 1920.<br />

The immediate impact of outlawing the manufacture,<br />

sale, and distribution of alcoholic<br />

beverages was devastating in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, which<br />

ranked fourth nationally in beer sales. The<br />

Anheuser-Busch Brewery occupied 150 buildings<br />

over seventy blocks in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> prior to<br />

Prohibition, but the annual loss of $140 million<br />

to the local economy put 55,000 brewery<br />

and saloon jobs in jeopardy—causing a<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


egional recession a decade before the Great<br />

Depression. Robbi Courtaway estimated that<br />

in 1919, local brewery workers received total<br />

wages in excess of $4 million, which a decade<br />

later, had fallen to less than $900,000.<br />

While a thousand beer companies went<br />

bankrupt (and some brewery owners killed<br />

themselves), Anheuser-Busch downsized and<br />

diversified to remain open and keep some<br />

2,000 workers on its payroll. For thirteen<br />

years, wrote William Knoedelseder, the iconic<br />

brewery “survived by making…rail cars,<br />

truck bodies, refrigeration cabinets, ice<br />

cream, a nonalcoholic form of Budweiser, a<br />

malt-based soft drink called Bevo, barley malt<br />

syrup, and baker’s yeast.”<br />

Equally disruptive was the related rise<br />

in crime, as citizens from every class sought<br />

to skirt the law in order to enjoy—or manufacture—illegal<br />

alcoholic beverages. On<br />

<strong>New</strong> Year’s Eve, 1922, over 2,000 wealthy<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans were enjoying an expensive<br />

evening at the new Chase Hotel, when police<br />

burst into the ballroom searching for liquor<br />

violations. The genteel crowd of prominent<br />

citizens assaulted the officers with a variety<br />

of projectiles, and police gunfire wounded<br />

three patrons. National notoriety followed, as<br />

a front page headline in the <strong>New</strong> York Times<br />

on January 2, 1923 reported that “Bullets,<br />

Chairs and Tableware Fly in Riot As<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans Run Dry Squad Out of Hotel!”<br />

Detail of a Charleston Dance Competition<br />

in front of City Hall, November 13, 1925,<br />

before they were banned as a health risk.<br />



ST. LOUIS (1603).<br />

C H A P T E R 5<br />

1 1 7

Violent criminal bootleggers in area gangs,<br />

such as “Egan’s Rats,” the “Cuckoos,” and<br />

at least four others, made that incident<br />

pale in comparison, while the alwaysvicious<br />

Ku Klux Klan eagerly exploited<br />

anti-alcohol laws as an excuse to increase<br />

their traditional prejudicial attacks on blacks,<br />

Jews, and Catholics.<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


Temporarily distracting <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans from<br />

rampant crime, police raids, payroll reductions,<br />

and other problems with Prohibition was the<br />

world-famous 1927 flight of Charles Lindbergh<br />

in a plane named The Spirit of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>. He<br />

was the first solo pilot to cross the Atlantic<br />

in a nonstop flight, covering the 3,614 miles<br />

between <strong>New</strong> York City and Paris in 33 hours,<br />

30 minutes, and 30 seconds. But his journey<br />

really started here. Lindbergh grew up in<br />

Minnesota, within the limits of Laclede’s<br />

original fur trade grant, and the twenty-five<br />

year-old flier reversed the itinerary of our city<br />

founder, who had traveled from France to<br />

America at the same age. Lindbergh honed<br />

his talents at Lambert Field—the 170-acre<br />

cornfield that Major Albert Bond Lambert<br />

purchased in 1920 with profits from his<br />

Listerine mouthwash. Due to its central<br />

location, Lambert Field quickly became,<br />

in the words of Lindbergh’s biographer,<br />

A. Scott Berg, “the logical intersection for the<br />

nation’s air traffic” in “the most exciting age<br />

of exploration in four hundred years.”<br />

Opposite, clockwise starting from the top:<br />

Anheuser-Busch Brewery in 1909,<br />

from the Official Program of the<br />

Centennial of the Incorporation of<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Celebration, October 3-9, 1909,<br />

compiled by Walter B. <strong>St</strong>evens<br />

(<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, 1909).<br />

Federal agents conduct a Prohibition raid<br />

on December 6, 1922, on South Third<br />

<strong>St</strong>reet, destroying two stills in an apartment<br />

building capable of producing 500 gallons<br />

of whiskey per day.<br />



Prescription for “Medicinal Alcohol” during<br />

Prohibition; from the author’s collection.<br />

Physicians were legally allowed to prescribe<br />

alcoholic beverages for over thirty ailments,<br />

including poisoning, post-operative pain,<br />

senility, insomnia, and even baldness!<br />

Left: Charles Lindbergh beside his famous<br />

plane at Lambert Field on May 11, 1927,<br />

after arriving from San Diego and before<br />

flying to <strong>New</strong> York to begin his historic<br />

flight across the Atlantic.<br />


MUSEUM, ST. LOUIS (5423).<br />

C H A P T E R 5<br />

1 1 9

F O U L<br />

W I N D S<br />

Lindbergh exploited favorable winds in his famous flight, but foul winds ravaged <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

four months after he had safely landed at Paris. A massive tornado on September 29, 1927,<br />

cut a wide swath through the central city, killing 76 and injuring more than 1,500, while<br />

destroying or damaging many buildings in 300 blocks. It was the sixth tornado to hit <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

since 1852, but was not as severe as the May 1896 “cyclone” that claimed 306 lives in<br />

South City and destroyed the main hospital. Another tornado on February 10, 1959, followed<br />

the path of the 1927 one, killing 21, injuring over 200, and displacing more than 3,000 families.<br />

February 1917 price list for raw furs<br />

issued by the United <strong>St</strong>ates Fur Company,<br />

210 North First <strong>St</strong>reet, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>.<br />

Note values of house cats at the bottom.<br />



Lindbergh solidified <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s reputation<br />

as the “City of Flight.” Its citizens had been<br />

fascinated by balloon races in 1836, 1859,<br />

and 1907, and Glenn Curtiss chose <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

to fly the first airplane west of the Mississippi<br />

in 1909. The next year, Teddy Roosevelt<br />

became the first president to take an airplane<br />

ride when he visited the city. <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s<br />

International Air Race in 1923 drew over<br />

100,000 spectators to see Curtiss set a world<br />

speed record of 243 miles per hour to win the<br />

Pulitzer Trophy. The true “Spirit of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>”<br />

behind the painted letters was reflected in<br />

the nine local entrepreneurs who risked their<br />

resources to purchase a plane for the ultimate<br />

explorer of the early twentieth century.<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


T H E P A S T W A S P R E S E N T F O R T H E F U T U R E O F F U R S<br />

The fur trade was one industry that actually prospered during the Great Depression, as millions<br />

of small mammal pelts trapped by rural families were mailed to <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> for much-needed<br />

cash. Long after generations of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> traders and trappers left their names on maps<br />

throughout the Fur West, the city’s oldest industry continued to contribute to the local and<br />

national economy well into the mid-twentieth century.<br />

By leveraging Laclede’s ideal central location, city caves used for cold storage, and new<br />

transportation links by rail and air, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> ranked with London and <strong>New</strong> York as the top<br />

three world market centers for fur sales. Under the leadership of Philip Bond Fouke III and<br />

experienced fur processors from the Fouke Company of London, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s International Fur<br />

Exchange (IFE) dominated the grading, dressing, dyeing, and marketing of Alaskan sealskins<br />

for decades. Annual auctions of all mammal species produced sales of $5.3 million in 1916,<br />

rising to $35 million only four years later.<br />

The <strong>New</strong> International Fur Exchange Building, constructed in 1920 at Fourth and Market<br />

(now the Drury Plaza Hotel), further enhanced <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s reputation as a global fur capital—<br />

which now marketed skins from Russia, China, Canada, India, Persia, Australia, and <strong>New</strong><br />

Zealand, as well as the U.S. Until the late 1950s, 75 companies in the Gateway City controlled<br />

65 percent of the American market, receiving more furs from a 600-mile radius “than all other<br />

cities in the United <strong>St</strong>ates combined.”<br />

When Lindbergh rewarded their faith so<br />

spectacularly, the city became “more than a<br />

gateway to the west. It came to symbolize<br />

the portal to the future,” wrote Berg.<br />

Lindbergh made a triumphant return to<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> on June 17, 1927. Half a million<br />

residents cheered him in a 7-mile downtown<br />

parade. He was honored at a banquet for<br />

1,300 people and performed aerial<br />

stunts over Forest Park for 100,000<br />

cheering fans before placing a wreath<br />

on the statue of Saint <strong>Louis</strong>. Lindbergh<br />

donated many artifacts associated with<br />

his famous flight to the Missouri History<br />

Museum, while city officials agreed to<br />

build a municipal airport at Lambert<br />

Field, which he visited in April 1933.<br />

Not even Lindbergh’s popular<br />

appearances, however, could solve<br />

the severe problems associated with<br />

Prohibition and the Great Depression.<br />

Between 1929 and 1933, the value<br />

of manufactured goods in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> fell<br />

56 percent, and in the latter year, 30 percent<br />

of all residents (some 116,000 people) were<br />

unemployed. Blacks suffered more, with a<br />

jobless rate that reached 80 percent. Those<br />

figures were worse than the national average,<br />

refuting the myth that <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> suffered less<br />

than other cities in the Depression. Some<br />

5,000 homeless <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans lived in the<br />

nation’s largest “Hooverville”—a “town” of<br />

driftwood and scrap lumber shacks located<br />

between the river and the railroad tracks—<br />

while the city fed 10 percent of the population<br />

in soup kitchens, preparing 36,000<br />

meals in August 1932 alone.<br />

Happy days returned in early 1933, when<br />

the taps reopened. The master of marketing,<br />

Anheuser-Busch publicly paraded its stunning<br />

new Clydesdales for the first time, as<br />

they pulled an old beer wagon that delivered<br />

Budweiser to President Roosevelt in the<br />

A “Hooverville” shack at river’s edge,<br />

November 1932.<br />



C H A P T E R 5<br />

1 2 1

White House. By 1938 <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s premier<br />

brewery was producing 2,000,000 barrels a<br />

year, exceeding its pre-Prohibition volume,<br />

and sales had increased 173 percent.<br />

But that temporary return of prosperity<br />

in one industry could not begin to address<br />

more deeply-rooted socio-economic problems<br />

associated with racial prejudice. Deliberate<br />

racist decisions, rather than accidental<br />

circumstances, confined blacks to a few<br />

restricted neighborhoods and prevented<br />

their migration to white communities. In the<br />

Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the<br />

United <strong>St</strong>ates, historian Kenneth T. Jackson<br />

revealed that local realtors and federal<br />

mortgage agencies in the 1930s considered<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


ace a major factor in ranking residential<br />

areas. Ladue received the highest rating<br />

because it was “highly restricted,” occupied<br />

by “capitalists and other wealthy families,”<br />

without “a single foreigner or negro.” The<br />

lowest-ranked areas consisted of overcrowded<br />

working-class white tenements, 60 percent of<br />

which did not have indoor toilets—and the<br />

best black homes in segregated neighborhoods.<br />

Prejudiced inspectors regarded even<br />

new and well-maintained houses of African<br />

Americans as having “little or no value…due<br />

to the colored element now controlling the<br />

district.” The FHA granted 500 percent more<br />

mortgages to new county residences than<br />

older city properties from 1934 to 1960.<br />

Most African American residences were<br />

concentrated in a few segregated areas, most<br />

notably in Elleardsville—“The Ville” north of<br />

the Central West End. That self-sufficient<br />

community contained all classes and every<br />

type of black-owned businesses, such as the<br />

very successful Poro College of Annie Malone,<br />

a millionaire entrepreneur who marketed<br />

hair care products throughout the nation,<br />

trained and hired many African<br />

Americans, and funded several<br />

charities. Also critical to the success<br />

of Ville residents was the<br />

venerable and valuable Sumner<br />

High School, which educated<br />

notable leaders, both local and<br />

national. Henry Givens, Jr.,<br />

former president of Harris-<strong>St</strong>owe<br />

University, wrote that “Sumner<br />

was one of the greatest high<br />

schools in the nation! The school<br />

had black teachers who had<br />

graduated from Harvard, Yale,<br />

and Princeton,” some with Ph.D.<br />

degrees. But because segregation<br />

blocked them from becoming college<br />

instructors, “we had scholars<br />

teaching us in high school!”<br />

In her 2011 book, Groping<br />

for Democracy: African American<br />

Social Welfare Reform in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>,<br />

UMSL history professor Priscilla<br />

Dowden-White emphasized the<br />

dynamic black leaders from<br />

1910 to 1949 who promoted the<br />

“common good” of the “community as a whole”<br />

by advocating “justice, neighborliness, and<br />

fair play” for residents from all classes.<br />

They used the Urban League, the Community<br />

Council, and the League of Women Voters<br />

to secure reforms in public policy that<br />

promoted social welfare before the more<br />

politically-focused national Civil Rights<br />

Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.<br />

Pragmatic black activists accepted the<br />

location of Homer G. Phillips Hospital,<br />

which operated in The Ville from 1937 to<br />

1979, rather than to oppose that placement<br />

for its segregationist symbolism, because<br />

medical services and physician training were<br />

desperately needed by black residents. But<br />

Clarence Lang’s Grassroots at the Gateway<br />

found that African American politicians later<br />

pursued competing agendas based on class<br />

differences, as “the politics of black middleclass<br />

‘respectability,’ often contingent on the<br />

white gaze, collided with a black workingclass<br />

politics of ‘self-respect’ autonomous<br />

from both white approval and black middleclass<br />

assent.”<br />

Opposite, top: Budweiser beer wagon pulled<br />

by Clydesdales for the first time in public<br />

on the way to the White House in 1933,<br />

symbolizing the end of Prohibition.<br />




Opposite, bottom: Famous entrepreneur<br />

Annie Malone (tenth from right) and friends<br />

in front of Poro College on April 25, 1927.<br />



Below: Homer Phillips Hospital<br />

(now apartments for retirees) in The Ville.<br />


C H A P T E R 5<br />

1 2 3

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


World War II brought massive, urgent<br />

changes to <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>. The “new normal” in<br />

everyday life included overcrowded housing,<br />

frequent blackouts and curfews, food<br />

rationing, war-bond sales, rubber- and scrapmetal<br />

collections, factories operating twentyfour<br />

hours a day, trains and river craft<br />

running at full capacity, and packed schools<br />

holding double shifts of teaching. The<br />

community pulled together, with citizens<br />

volunteering as 5,300 air-raid wardens, 5,500<br />

auxiliary firemen and policemen, and 3,373<br />

first aid workers, while another 32,000<br />

served in other roles, according to historian<br />

Betty Burnet.<br />

The city’s admirable array of heavy industries<br />

was indispensable in the global crusade<br />

to combat fascism, with 296 companies—a<br />

record 75 percent of all <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> manufacturers—engaged<br />

in defense work, which far<br />

exceeded the national average. The McDonnell<br />

Corporation, based in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> since 1939,<br />

contributed excellent war planes; the<br />

International Shoe Company produced 35,000<br />

pairs of boots per day; and the <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

Ordnance District manufactured more medium-sized<br />

bombs than any other city. Five thousand<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans worked on the Manhattan<br />

Project that created the atom bombs, including<br />

Dr. Arthur Holly Compton and other scientists<br />

from Mallinckrodt and Monsanto. The cyclotron<br />

at Washington University was essential for<br />

nuclear research, while the John Nooter Boiler<br />

Works made the huge tanks that produced<br />

life-saving penicillin B, developed by<br />

Dr. Edward A. Doisy of Saint <strong>Louis</strong> University.<br />

Opposite: Woman machinist at the Curtiss-<br />

Wright aircraft plant at Lambert Field.<br />



Below: Navy Day Parade in downtown<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> on October 4, 1942. The U.S.<br />

only had a total of forty tanks in 1940,<br />

and several of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s heavy industries<br />

worked overtime to make vehicles,<br />

munitions, and airplanes to achieve victory<br />

in WWII.<br />



C H A P T E R 5<br />

1 2 5

Above: Doolittle Headline in the<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Globe-Democrat, May 20, 1942.<br />


Below: Huge rally of some 9,000 African<br />

Americans at Kiel Auditorium in August<br />

1942 to protest the lack of defense jobs for<br />

blacks (only one in forty-five hires).<br />



Ironically, many <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> companies did<br />

not take full advantage of even more talented<br />

employees anxious to contribute to the war<br />

effort. The 8,000 local African Americans<br />

who worked in defense industries represented<br />

only a tiny fraction of all positions available.<br />

In August 1942 some 9,000 blacks held<br />

a massive meeting to lobby for more warrelated<br />

employment, declaring that “Winning<br />

Democracy for the Negro Is Winning the War<br />

for Democracy.” Federal policies eventually<br />

alleviated segregated hiring, which helped<br />

advance civil rights in postwar America.<br />

Immediately after Pearl Harbor, almost<br />

81,000 <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> men, aged 18 to 44, registered<br />

for the draft. Too many <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans<br />

never returned. The nearest thing to an<br />

official tally of city residents killed in World<br />

War II are the 2,753 names inscribed at the<br />

“Court of Honor” across from the Soldiers’<br />

Memorial Building. A genealogy website<br />

lists 1,636 deaths (911 killed in action) of<br />

city residents who served only in the army<br />

and air force. Several noted pilots from the<br />

“City of Flight” died in the war, including<br />

Lieutenant Commander Edward H. “Butch”<br />

O’Hare, a Medal of Honor recipient for<br />

whom Chicago’s major airport is named;<br />

Captain Eliott Vandeventer, winner of the<br />

Distinguished Flying Cross; and Captain<br />

Wendell Oliver Pruitt, a much-decorated ace<br />

of the Tuskegee Airmen. They were inspired<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


T R I U M P H A N T<br />

C A R D I N A L S<br />

As another welcome distraction from the grim news of war, the <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Cardinals and<br />

the <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Browns, which shared Sportsman’s Park as their home field, battled for<br />

baseball supremacy in the “Trolley” World Series of 1944. The Cardinals won in six games,<br />

adding to their championships with the popular “Gas House Gang” in 1931 and 1934.<br />

The Cardinals also won the Series in 1942 and 1946. By 1953 both the Browns and the<br />

Cardinals came to a critical crossroads. The Browns were sold to Baltimore, becoming<br />

the Orioles, while beer baron August A. “Gussie” Busch, Jr., purchased the Cardinals and<br />

stabilized the franchise.<br />

For many decades, three iconic organizations—the Cardinals, Anheuser-Busch Brewery,<br />

and KMOX radio station—made the “redbirds” a local treasure and a national “brand.” KMOX<br />

auspiciously began its baseball broadcasts with the Cardinals’ victory in the 1926 World<br />

Series—the city’s first championship since 1888. The hero was an aging, hard-drinking pitcher,<br />

Grover Cleveland Alexander, who won two games and saved a third. KMOX’s 50,000-watt<br />

signal reached most of the continent at night, making the Cardinals the broadcasting Gateway<br />

to West (and South), with legions of fans in distant states.<br />

Opening game of the 1944 all-<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> World Series at Sportsman’s Park, home field for both the Cardinals and the Browns.<br />


by the daring 1942 bomber raid on Japan<br />

by local hero, Colonel James Doolittle, who<br />

survived the war. <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> was perhaps<br />

the only U.S. city to lose its mayor<br />

(Republican William D. Becker) in a warrelated<br />

incident. On August 1, 1943, he and<br />

nine other civilians were killed at Lambert<br />

Field in the crash of a new glider they<br />

were testing.<br />

Returning veterans in 1945 encountered<br />

a rapidly changing city that would never be<br />

the same. The G.I. Bill and new employment<br />

opportunities lured many city residents into<br />

the county, seeking large single-family<br />

homes, with lawns and garages, on onceremote<br />

farmlands. Suburbanization had begun<br />

two decades before, as Kenneth Jackson<br />

noted, “when automobile registrations rose<br />

C H A P T E R 5<br />

1 2 7

y more than 150 percent,” and outlying<br />

areas “of the nation’s 96 largest cities grew<br />

twice as fast as the core communities.” That<br />

trickle of urban depopulation became a flood<br />

in the postwar period, as “White Flight”<br />

would cause <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> City to lose over half<br />

of its population and suffer a 60 percent<br />

decline in business between 1950 and 2000.<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> City had only 15,348 new housing<br />

starts between 1950 and 1970, while <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

County had 102,298. Jobs in the city<br />

declined from 366,524 to 231,765 in those<br />

decades, while the county enjoyed an<br />

increase from 156,526 to 384,409.<br />

Progress came at a price. The removal of “derelict” warehouses and other structures (some deemed “architecturally significant”) destroyed what remained of the original colonial French<br />

city after the Great Fire of 1849. Just as bad as bulldozing was burying irreplaceable and rare archaeological remains under tons of earth needed to support the 900-ton Gateway Arch.<br />

That emptiness left a vacancy of vibrancy before the soaring steel was in place. The completion of the Gateway Arch took three decades. Mayor Bernard F. Dickmann and the leading local<br />

booster, Luther Ely Smith, got a bond issue passed and secured federal <strong>New</strong> Deal funding to clear the riverfront, but WWII halted progress. The architectural competition of the 1950s<br />

selected Eero Saarinen’s daring modernist design, and unprecedentedly complex construction challenges delayed completion of the nation’s tallest monument until the mid-1960s.<br />


H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


Although African Americans comprised<br />

nearly 18 percent of the city’s population in<br />

1950, they were prevented from joining the<br />

migration to suburbia or even moving into<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s race-restricted neighborhoods. In<br />

the 1940s nearly 380 housing covenants still<br />

blocked blacks from living in most of the city,<br />

confining them to a ghettoized “donut hole”<br />

of escalating poverty and decaying property.<br />

Historian John A. Wright claimed that in<br />

1950, “the 95,000 blacks moving to <strong>St</strong> <strong>Louis</strong><br />

would find only 100 new homes available for<br />

them.” The Shelley family at 4600 Labadie<br />

Avenue challenged restricted housing, and<br />

when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled favorably<br />

on Shelley v. Kraemer in 1948, it ended<br />

segregationist covenants in nineteen states.<br />

Missouri, however, did not enact a fair<br />

housing law until 1972, and some prejudicial<br />

policies continued.<br />

According to Colin Gordon’s Mapping<br />

Decline: <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> and the Fate of the American<br />

City, restricted housing made <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

“hyper-segregated.” It was ranked as the<br />

eighteenth most racially-segregated city in<br />

the U.S. by 1960 and became “the patron<br />

saint of the nation’s urban crisis” when it was<br />

declared the tenth worst racially-divided<br />

urban area in 1980. In 1970, African<br />

Americans comprised 40 percent of the<br />

city’s population, with average incomes<br />

that were only 60 percent as large as a<br />

typical white household. Thus, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

remained one of the nation’s most segregated<br />

cities to the present, based on color and/or<br />

class prejudices.<br />

Meet Me in <strong>St</strong> <strong>Louis</strong> movie poster showing<br />

Judy Garland and Margaret O’Brien;<br />

lithograph from Loew’s Incorporated, 1944.<br />

Near the end of World War II, many<br />

grieving local families took comfort in this<br />

nostalgic movie, based on Sally Benson’s<br />

1942 memoir of the same name. The film,<br />

like her book, evoked memories of the<br />

joyous World’s Fair in happier times.<br />


ST. LOUIS (21652).<br />

C H A P T E R 5<br />

1 2 9

Above: Tenements in the Mill Creek Valley,<br />

near Leonard Avenue; 1948.<br />



Below: Black professionals protest at<br />

Jefferson Bank, October 10, 1963.<br />



Opposite: Black children peer from<br />

dilapidated public housing in the<br />

Mill Creek Valley, c. 1952.<br />



Black protesters from several civil rights<br />

organizations increasingly confronted those<br />

postwar crises with demonstrations in<br />

restaurants, department stores, theaters, and<br />

other businesses. As pressure and publicity<br />

increased, Saint <strong>Louis</strong> University in 1944<br />

became the first Missouri college to integrate<br />

its student body. Joseph Elmer Ritter,<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s dynamic Catholic Archbishop<br />

from 1946 to 1967 (elevated to<br />

Cardinal in 1961), enrolled black<br />

women at Webster University<br />

in 1946 and received national<br />

acclaim for desegregating all<br />

archdiocesan high schools and<br />

parish schools in 1947, seven<br />

years before the famous<br />

U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown<br />

decision. In 1952, Washington<br />

University admitted its first<br />

African American students.<br />

On August 30, 1963, local<br />

leaders of CORE (the Congress<br />

of Racial Equality) skipped the<br />

March on Washington and<br />

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous<br />

“I Have a Dream Speech” to<br />

begin a seven-month protest at<br />

the Jefferson Bank and Trust<br />

Company on Washington Avenue.<br />

Seeking employment for blacks,<br />

nineteen protesters were arrested,<br />

receiving a combined sentence of<br />

over eight years in jail and $11,000 in fines.<br />

But their demonstrations produced results,<br />

and most of the protest leaders became<br />

celebrities and consultants for justice in a<br />

variety of professional positions.<br />

When the Gateway Arch was under construction,<br />

it came to symbolize not only the<br />

nineteenth-century homesteaders who passed<br />

through <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> on their way west, but also<br />

twentieth-century black pioneers<br />

for employment equality who were<br />

determined to stay in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

and improve the city. In a daring<br />

and dramatic demonstration on<br />

July 14, 1964, Percy Green II and<br />

Richard Daly chained themselves<br />

to one of the high legs of the<br />

Arch to protest the lack of black<br />

contractors and union workers<br />

on the federally-funded project.<br />

They received national attention<br />

and achieved reforms that conformed<br />

to the civil rights acts of<br />

1964-1966. Six African American<br />

aldermen (out of twenty-nine) also<br />

achieved a city public accommodations<br />

law in 1961 that ended<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


job discrimination on local projects four<br />

years before the state legislature acted. Other<br />

signs of progress included the election of<br />

Alderman William L. Clay as Missouri’s first<br />

black Congressman in 1968, and, after 1993,<br />

two consecutive electoral victories of African<br />

Americans as mayor of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>. In addition,<br />

blacks have served the city as police chief,<br />

circuit court clerk, city comptroller, and<br />

chairman of the Democratic Committee.<br />

C H A P T E R 5<br />

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Pruitt-Igoe Housing Complex after<br />

completion, February 8, 1955.<br />



H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />

132<br />

But the contentious issue of segregated<br />

housing remained unsolved for several<br />

decades. Mayors Bernard Dickmann, Joseph<br />

Darst, and Raymond Tucker launched ambitious<br />

urban renewal projects in the 1940s and<br />

1950s, using generous federal funding to<br />

address neighborhood “blight.” The city<br />

cleared some 454 acres of slums in the Mill<br />

Creek Valley, creating a devastated area known<br />

as “Hiroshima Flats.” On that bombed-like<br />

landscape, some of the best architects in the<br />

country erected the Pruitt-Igoe Complex of 33

eleven-story buildings in 1954. Eleven years<br />

later, National Geographic author Robert Paul<br />

Jordan praised such destruction and construction<br />

for the “rejuvenation of a dying city.” He<br />

boasted that “by 1970 <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> will have torn<br />

down and rebuilt a fifth of its 61 square miles<br />

at a cost of more than a billion dollars.” Once<br />

regarded as “the best-designed” public housing<br />

project, Pruitt-Igoe was demolished in<br />

1976, after it had disillusioned residents by<br />

concentrating crime and poverty in rather<br />

drab concrete towers with no supportive community<br />

spirit or even adequate maintenance.<br />

According to Gordon, such massive, impersonal<br />

projects “almost always made things<br />

worse…. [B]oth the diagnosis (blight) and its<br />

prescription (urban renewal) were shaped<br />

by—and compromised by—the same…<br />

prejudices that had created the condition in<br />

the first place.” Bulldozing heavily populated<br />

neighborhoods to build commercial skyscrapers<br />

revealed that “racial segregation was<br />

a core goal from the outset…. Even the most<br />

progressive efforts destroyed more units than<br />

they created and displaced more families of<br />

ordinary means than they accommodated….<br />

Over time, redevelopment trumped rehabilitation,<br />

and new housing…became less a goal<br />

of urban renewal.”<br />

Above: African American protester in front<br />

of the Dozier School, June 10, 1963.<br />



C H A P T E R 5<br />

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Busch <strong>St</strong>adium II and the Gateway Arch,<br />

as photographed on September 21, 1967.<br />

A sense of excitement energized the<br />

entire metropolitan area, as those two<br />

monumental and long-anticipated projects<br />

were completed about the same time.<br />

Almost thirty years after a riverfront park<br />

was envisioned, the Gateway Arch was<br />

finished in October 1965, although the<br />

entire Jefferson National Expansion<br />

Memorial complex would not welcome<br />

tourists until 1967. The stadium, with<br />

architectural details inspired by the Arch,<br />

was ready for the 1966 baseball season.<br />



H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />

134<br />

Living conditions for <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> City’s<br />

blacks would improve after the federal<br />

“Fair Housing Act” of 1968 prohibited<br />

discriminatory zoning based on race, color,<br />

religion, sex, or national origin. But that,<br />

too, had unintended consequences by eroding<br />

successful, traditional African American<br />

neighborhoods. Taking advantage of new,<br />

unrestricted housing options, many of the<br />

most affluent and accomplished black<br />

residents moved out of The Ville and other<br />

racially-cohesive communities. Left behind<br />

were disproportionally disadvantaged people<br />

with less support—political, economic, and<br />

even personal. Class divisions replaced<br />

monolithic racism, as concentrated poverty<br />

in selected areas resulted in decaying properties,<br />

declining schools, disappearing jobs,<br />

and increasing disillusionment.<br />

The principle of neighborhood schools<br />

lowered educational expectations and outcomes<br />

in areas with the worst incomes,<br />

and not even federal laws could compete<br />

with such territorial tyranny. Black-on-black<br />

crime further destabilized neighborhoods.<br />

As the Reverend Earl E. Nance, Sr., pastor<br />

of the Greater Mount Carmel Baptist Church,<br />

noted, African Americans were “not responsible<br />

for the way other folks treat us, but we<br />

are responsible for how we treat others.”<br />

In the midst of historic changes, the<br />

Bicentennial of the founding of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

was officially celebrated over two years,<br />

1964 to 1966. It was the grandest commemoration<br />

ever, since <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans had little<br />

to celebrate in 1939, when the city turned<br />

175 years old in the midst of the<br />

Great Depression. At that time, a local<br />

newspaper article proclaimed that the city’s<br />

founding date could not be determined<br />

and revealed the erroneous biases of the<br />

1930s: “In 1760 the wilderness stretched<br />

north from <strong>New</strong> Orleans to Canada,<br />

…[where] a few savages stamped around….<br />

A French fort was built at Chartres to keep<br />

off the Spanish from Santa Fe,…[but] the<br />

rest of the Mississippi country was like the<br />

Congo in Africa”!

President Lyndon Johnson kicked off “the<br />

official birthday celebration on February 14,<br />

1964” (the wrong date) with an optimistic<br />

public address. “As the Gateway to the West,”<br />

he stated, “Saint <strong>Louis</strong> became one of the<br />

finest and most important cities in the<br />

world. But at the very summit of her glory,<br />

the blight that was to deface dozens of<br />

American cities struck Saint <strong>Louis</strong>. The<br />

incredible vitality of this proud queen of<br />

Mid-America began to erode.” In conclusion,<br />

the president declared to city residents:<br />

“You faced a hard choice and you made it.<br />

The people of Saint <strong>Louis</strong> chose progress—<br />

not decay. A new spirit of Saint <strong>Louis</strong> was<br />

born. And today you look forward to the<br />

future with new pride and new confidence.”<br />

Also making history was McDonnell Aircraft<br />

Corporation, Missouri’s largest employer, with<br />

35,000 workers constructing the world’s most<br />

sophisticated supersonic fighters that the military<br />

relied on in the Vietnam War. The engineering<br />

explorers at that corporation also made <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

the “gateway to the galaxy” by constructing the<br />

successful Mercury and Gemini space vehicles<br />

that propelled American astronauts into space<br />

and to ultimately land on the moon.<br />

Above: Official anniversary license plate.<br />


Left: President John F. Kennedy viewing<br />

the Mercury space capsule in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> on<br />

February 23, 1962. The McDonnell-Douglas<br />

Corporation, which made notable airplanes,<br />

also played a significant role in NASA’s<br />

space program to land Americans on<br />

the moon.<br />



C H A P T E R 5<br />

1 3 5

“Gaslight Square” on the evening of July 29,<br />

1961. The three-block entertainment district<br />

lit by gas street lamps featured thirty-five<br />

music clubs, bars, and restaurants. Its<br />

equally rapid rise and fall symbolized the<br />

vulnerability of a new craze when beset by<br />

crime and changing generational trends in<br />

popular entertainment.<br />



<strong>St</strong>ars also appeared closer to home, as<br />

the Cardinals gave an additional boost to the<br />

confidence and pride of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans in the<br />

Bicentennial year by winning the 1964 World<br />

Series—their first championship in eighteen<br />

years. They added another one in 1967.<br />

Applauding the Bicentennial,<br />

the November 1965 issue of<br />

National Geographic Magazine<br />

published sixty-four pages on<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, beginning with the<br />

headline: “<strong>New</strong> spirit soars in<br />

Mid-America’s proud old city.”<br />

Author Robert Paul Jordan<br />

praised the city’s “unique history”<br />

in “carving the trans-Mississippi<br />

West into 22 new states” and<br />

credited Joseph Pulitzer’s 1949<br />

“Progress or Decay” challenge<br />

for stimulating ambitious urban<br />

renewal. Jordan’s remarks,<br />

accompanied by superb photos,<br />

focused on new and future<br />

developments: the beautiful<br />

Aloe Plaza, slum removal, the $30,000,000<br />

Jefferson National Expansion Memorial,<br />

new interstate highways, and Saint <strong>Louis</strong><br />

University’s $53,000,000 campus expansion<br />

that helped revitalize the city. Summarizing<br />

his positive impressions of the Bicentennial<br />

headed by “Gussie” Busch, Jordan observed<br />

that the city’s “birthday party really amounts<br />

to a family affair, with the whole metropolis<br />

participating” in “literally thousands of<br />

events, small and large.”<br />

Black members of the city “family,” however,<br />

did not share in such Bicentennial boosterism,<br />

being in no mood to “celebrate” racial prejudice<br />

and the other harsh realities of second-class<br />

citizenship. In 1964, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s population<br />

stood at 711,000, down from almost 857,000<br />

in 1950, and the city would experience its<br />

greatest economic decline between 1970 and<br />

1990, when manufacturing jobs fell by<br />

82,000 and its poverty rate rose to 24 percent.<br />

Although suburbanization enticed residents<br />

to move out of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> and cost the city<br />

its traditional stature as the engine of the<br />

regional economy, the explosive growth of<br />

the greater metropolitan area on former<br />

farmlands improved the lives of everyone.<br />

In Fall 1963, the University of Missouri-<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> (UMSL) greeted its first 673<br />

students, who crowded into the sole<br />

campus building—the old Bellerive Country<br />

Clubhouse. In only six years, with three<br />

new buildings, enrollment swelled to 10,000,<br />

with increasing numbers of African<br />

Americans, revealing that Saint <strong>Louis</strong><br />

University and Washington University could<br />

not have accommodated so many students<br />

seeking an affordable education. Both UMSL,<br />

which now has over 62,000 alumni living in<br />

the metro area, and nearby Lambert<br />

International Airport demonstrated that their<br />

expansive growth in North <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> County<br />

could not have occurred in the spacestrapped<br />

city.<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


S T . L O U I S ’ S L O N G E S T S E R V I N G M O D E R N M A Y O R S<br />

Not surprisingly, most of the mayors who served at least eight consecutive years brought<br />

the greatest changes to <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, including:<br />

Rolla Wells Democrat (1901-1909)<br />

Henry Kiel Republican (1913-1925)<br />

Bernard F. Dickmann Democrat (1933-1941)<br />

Raymond Tucker Democrat (1953-1965)<br />

Alfonso Cervantes Democrat (1965-1973)<br />

Vincent C. Schoemehl Democrat (1981-1993)<br />

Francis G. Slay Democrat (2001-present), won record fourth election in 2013<br />

A decade ago, the Metrolink light rail<br />

system brought the inner city and the outer<br />

suburbs closer together with an efficient<br />

new transportation option. In its first two<br />

months, 1,000,000 passengers rode the<br />

initial 14 miles of track. Today, Metrolink has<br />

an annual ridership of 17,000,000 along<br />

46 miles of routes in two states.<br />

The Main Terminal Building<br />

at Lambert International Airport.<br />


C H A P T E R 5<br />

1 3 7

The children of Dr. John A. Wright enjoy<br />

the combination of statuary, fountains,<br />

beautiful buildings, and surprisingly serene<br />

surroundings (at times) in a downtown<br />

plaza that is all too often taken for granted.<br />

In the 1980s, Mayor Vincent Schoemehl, an<br />

UMSL graduate, launched another building<br />

initiative to renew both the city’s infrastructure<br />

and the spirits of its citizens. He joined a long<br />

list of progressive Democratic politicians,<br />

allied with business leaders in Civic Progress<br />

since the 1950s, to realize the illusive World’s<br />

Fair dream of building a “Model City,” both<br />

beautiful and productive, that would stand<br />

the test of time. Bond issue after bond issue<br />

revealed the willingness of citizens to invest<br />

in a brighter future, but a repetitious pattern<br />

of destruction and construction in a nevercompleted<br />

cityscape eroded much of that<br />

confidence in addressing decline.<br />

City leaders sought bold solutions to stem<br />

urban blight and suburban flight, choosing<br />

activism over apathy. But not all such “explorations”<br />

succeed, and historians can provide<br />

20-20 hindsight to explain why. Too frequently,<br />

planners, politicians, and promoters proceeded<br />

without a complete or deep understanding<br />

of the city’s heritage. A case in point was the<br />

expensive relocation in 1969 of the “Spanish<br />

Pavilion”—and the replica ship, Santa Maria—<br />

from the 1964 <strong>New</strong> York World’s Fair.<br />

Although <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> was Spain’s eighteenthcentury<br />

capital of Upper <strong>Louis</strong>iana, that was<br />

<strong>250</strong> years after Columbus sailed into the<br />

Caribbean, and few residents saw the<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


elevance of having the Santa Maria docked<br />

along the Mississippi. Due to a lack of interest,<br />

the Pavilion went bankrupt in its first year.<br />

The creative re-use of the iconic Union<br />

<strong>St</strong>ation as an indoor mall in 1985 was<br />

more successful—for a time. But like the<br />

architecturally-innovative <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Centre<br />

(another indoor mall), shoppers proved to<br />

be fickle. Novelty, alone, attracts initial<br />

crowds, but long-term customer loyalty<br />

invariably declines among bargain-hunters,<br />

even in more conveniently-located suburban<br />

shopping malls with better parking facilities.<br />

Fickle owners, rather than indifferent fans,<br />

doomed several of the city’s professional<br />

sports franchises, such as the NBA Hawks,<br />

NFL Cardinals, and a variety of soccer teams.<br />

The <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Hawks bolted to Atlanta in<br />

1968 after a dozen seasons, in which they<br />

won the NBA championship in 1958 and<br />

reached the finals three other years—including<br />

their last one here. From 1960 to 1988,<br />

the football Cardinals (“Big Red”) developed<br />

a fan following, despite mostly mediocre<br />

records and only one division title (in 1974).<br />

But ownership moved the team to Phoenix<br />

and renamed it the Arizona Cardinals,<br />

while negotiations were proceeding for a<br />

new stadium here.<br />

A dedicated football facility finally arrived<br />

to popular acclaim in 1993 to support the<br />

new <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Rams franchise. Now known<br />

as the Edward Jones Dome, that indoor<br />

stadium became famous as the home of the<br />

“Greatest Show on Turf’ from 1999 to 2003.<br />

Quarterback Kurt Warner threw 41 touchdowns,<br />

and the team scored 526 points<br />

on the way to winning Super Bowl XXXIV<br />

in 1999. They lost the championship two<br />

years later on a late field goal by the <strong>New</strong><br />

England Patriots and have never matched<br />

those successes.<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans have had a love affair with<br />

amateur soccer since the 1880s. A Christian<br />

Brothers College High School team won<br />

the silver medal in the 1904 Olympic<br />

Games, and Saint <strong>Louis</strong> University is the<br />

national leader with 47 NCAA tournament<br />

appearances and 10 soccer championships.<br />

Six different amateur teams from <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

won the U.S. Open Cup between 1920 and<br />

1957, and five city players were on the<br />

American team that defeated England to win<br />

the 1950 World Cup. Twenty <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans<br />

have been inducted into the National Soccer<br />

Hall of Fame, but a long list of professional<br />

soccer franchises—outdoor, indoor, and<br />

women’s—have come and gone without<br />

financial success.<br />

The <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Blues was one of the National<br />

Hockey League expansion franchises in 1967,<br />

and the team has a secure, if not always abundant,<br />

fan base despite frequent changes in<br />

ownership and arena sites. The Blues reached<br />

the <strong>St</strong>anley Cup Finals in each of their first<br />

three seasons (1968-1970), a spectacular<br />

debut, but remains the only expansion team<br />

not to have won the championship. A fan<br />

favorite, the Hall of Famer Brett Hull, recently<br />

rejoined the organization as a vice president.<br />

The unprecedented success and popularity<br />

of the <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Cardinals make it hard<br />

for other professional teams to match the<br />

enthusiasm and loyalty of their fans. In<br />

general, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> has better sports facilities<br />

than the quality of the teams that play<br />

in them.<br />

At the height of his success as the<br />

Rams Super Bowl quarterback, Kurt<br />

Warner marketed cereal to raise funds for<br />

his “First Things First Foundation,”<br />

as well as other charities.<br />




C H A P T E R 5<br />

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Exhibition soccer match between<br />

Real Madrid and Inter Milan in the<br />

Edward Jones Dome, August 10, 2013.<br />

Such soccer matches, including one<br />

featuring the Bosnian national team,<br />

have become increasingly popular and<br />

attract large crowds.<br />



H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


C H A P T E R 5<br />

1 4 1

“There is only one thing which <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> cannot do, and that is, fail.”<br />

–James Cox, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>: The Carnival City, 1892<br />

E P I L O G U E<br />



Photographic blow-up of 1907<br />

City medallions.<br />


When <strong>St</strong> <strong>Louis</strong>’s population plummeted to 450,000 in the 1980 census—the lowest since<br />

1890—America’s formerly fourth-ranked city had fallen over twenty places. In 1988, native<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> novelist, Jonathan Franzen, wrote in The Twenty-Seventh City that the “Era of the Parking<br />

Lot” typified a barren and desperate downtown. “The local prophets were defensive. Where once<br />

they’d expected supremacy, they now took heart at any sign of survival.” Franzen asked the key<br />

question: “What becomes of a city no living person can remember, of an age whose passing no<br />

one survives to regret?”<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


The human life cycle typically lasts about<br />

eighty years, so studying history is the only<br />

means of appreciating a distant past that no<br />

one alive actually experienced. A knowledge<br />

of the good ideas or big mistakes from earlier<br />

eras provides context for the present and may<br />

help improve the future. Realizing who or<br />

what “came before” is an essential component<br />

of citizenship for each generation. Laclede’s<br />

only son, Pierre Chouteau, wrote in 1847,<br />

that “honors rendered to the dead…serve to<br />

excite the living to emulate their virtues and<br />

their worth.” A century later, native <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

poet, Loyd Haberly, expressed a similar sentiment<br />

in his book, The City of the Sainted King:<br />

“Though nothing lives forever<br />

And nothing lasts for long,<br />

Yet the eternal river<br />

Of life runs clear and strong.<br />

Within our loins are nations,<br />

What we sow, they will reap,<br />

Building on all foundations<br />

That we lay firm and deep.”<br />

“Each event in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> history is part of a<br />

continuing saga, building on what has gone<br />

before,” local author Ann Morris observed in<br />

1999. “History can inspire us to undertake<br />

impossible dreams” by “passing on to future<br />

generations stories of heroes, great and<br />

small.” A 1909 Globe-Democrat editorial stated<br />

that “every generation is too prone to<br />

think that all wisdom will die with them.”<br />

But if future citizens “smile at our rude and<br />

crude ways of doing things,” they may also<br />

“wonder at our achievement.”<br />

That becomes impossible, however, if the<br />

deeds of past leaders, both noble and nefarious,<br />

are forgotten or fabricated. A readers’<br />

poll conducted by the Post-Dispatch in<br />

January 2000 sought to identify the “Most<br />

Influential <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans of the 20th Century,”<br />

decade by decade. Wealthy beer barons<br />

topped the list for two different decades—<br />

Adolphus Busch (for 1900-1910), long after<br />

his greatest contributions, and his grandson,<br />

August A. “Gussie” Busch, Jr., (for 1960-1970),<br />

whose service as the Cardinals’ owner paled<br />

in comparison to significant political leaders.<br />

Lindbergh was the top vote-getter for the<br />

1920-1930 decade, even though he was not a<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>an and remained in town to pick up<br />

a free plane. <strong>St</strong>an Musial was not a native,<br />

either, and he seems an odd choice for 1940-<br />

1950—a decade that produced so many<br />

national military heroes in World War II.<br />

Voters deficient in chronology picked James<br />

Smith McDonnell as the most illustrious<br />

The 2011 World Series Victory Parade in<br />

front of the latest Busch <strong>St</strong>adium on<br />

October 30, 2011.<br />



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In Loving Memory of All Young People<br />

Who Die from Violence, a bronze statue<br />

by sculptor Rudolph Torrini (1997),<br />

located on the grounds of SSM Cardinal<br />

Glennon Children’s Hospital. This is a<br />

moving tribute to nine-year-old Christopher<br />

Harris, who was murdered in a June 1991<br />

gun battle on a city street. The interior of<br />

the statue is filled with melted handguns.<br />


non-<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>an for the 1930s, even though<br />

he did not open his aircraft company here<br />

until 1939 and achieved his greatest acclaim<br />

years later. Zoo director and TV personality<br />

Marlin Perkins (for 1950-1960), Robert<br />

Hyland, general manager of radio station<br />

KMOX (1970-1980), real estate developer<br />

Leon <strong>St</strong>rauss (1980-1990), who renovated<br />

the “Fabulous Fox Theatre” in 1982, and<br />

the Reverend Lawrence Biondi, president of<br />

Saint <strong>Louis</strong> University (1990-2000), seem<br />

trivial choices of current celebrities whose<br />

name-recognition in recent newspaper headlines<br />

prevented an accurate assessment of<br />

broader historical significance. That poll<br />

was a popularity contest that reflected such<br />

ignorance of the past as to minimize<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s authentic historic stature. Without<br />

memory, there can be no history, which<br />

depends on accurate recollections passed<br />

down through successive generations.<br />

In recent years, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans with more<br />

historical perspective have reevaluated how<br />

“successful” the World’s Fair and the<br />

Bicentennial were, considering the failed<br />

projects and fading hopes that followed<br />

those celebrations. It would be hard to<br />

match the optimistic mood of the 1964<br />

celebration, when the Gateway Arch and a<br />

new baseball stadium with its own unique<br />

arches were nearing completion only a<br />

few blocks apart. Progress was a tangible<br />

reality, as a building boom transformed<br />

the downtown core of an old city. The<br />

optimism of 1964, however, did not survive<br />

a series of national crises to come. In the<br />

past fifty years, local confidence in a bright<br />

future was deflated by escalating carnage<br />

in Vietnam, destructive race riots in major<br />

cities, assassinations of prominent leaders,<br />

the Watergate scandal, Iranian hostagetaking,<br />

oil embargoes, the shocking attacks<br />

on 9/11, simultaneous wars in the Middle<br />

East, a rash of school shootings, increasing<br />

street violence, and several economic<br />

recessions, with the latest being the most<br />

severe. And, unlike 1964, today it is much<br />

more difficult and expensive to have all<br />

citizens share equally and equitably in<br />

progress and prosperity, including a quality<br />

public education.<br />

The Census results in 2010 revealed that<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s population had reached a new low<br />

of only 318,000, as America’s former 4th<br />

largest city fell to 58th place. Since <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

has lost half a million people in only sixty<br />

years, residents may be more subdued in celebrating<br />

the <strong>250</strong>th anniversary. The current<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


ecession has worsened racial disparities in<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, lowering white household income<br />

by 7 percent, but black households by<br />

17 percent. In 2013 median income in white<br />

households exceeded the national average by<br />

$3,000 and was 110 percent higher than<br />

black households, which fell $5,000 short of<br />

the national average for African Americans.<br />

In July 2013, the city had a total unemployment<br />

rate of 10.8 percent (3.4 percent higher<br />

than the state’s)—but 13 percent of blacks<br />

were jobless, twice the figure for whites.<br />

Based on those statistics, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> ranked<br />

among the twenty most segregated major<br />

U.S. cities and was the 9th lowest for black<br />

income mobility.<br />

Poverty and joblessness, personal disillusionment<br />

and social alienation, are wellknown<br />

preconditions for violent crime,<br />

but for decades <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> City has failed to<br />

correct those root causes of its major crisis,<br />

which continues to tarnish its national<br />

reputation. Problem-plagued schools of<br />

class and racial inequality remain a ticking<br />

“time bomb” as incubators of violence,<br />

because they inhibit realistic opportunities<br />

for new generations to enjoy a better life as<br />

contributing citizens. The proactive inspiration<br />

of students is far cheaper and more<br />

productive than reactive incarcerations,<br />

which only perpetuate and exacerbate<br />

violence. Creating great schools is far wiser<br />

and more humane than erecting glamorous<br />

skyscrapers and sports stadiums, since crime<br />

threatens expensive investments even in<br />

affluent neighborhoods. As George Bernard<br />

Shaw observed, “for though the rich end of<br />

town can avoid living with the poor, it cannot<br />

avoid dying with it when the plague comes.”<br />

Rather than enticing out-of-town sports<br />

fans to stay for a weekend, city leaders<br />

should redirect their priorities and rescue<br />

the neediest residents who spend their<br />

entire lives here. <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> could achieve<br />

international acclaim by revitalizing its oncefamous<br />

city school system, perhaps in<br />

new partnerships with the area’s creative<br />

companies and famous universities.<br />

A quality education has always been<br />

the antidote to alienation and animosity,<br />

as students gain a deeper appreciation of<br />

themselves in developing their talents.<br />

James H. Buford, former head of the local<br />

Urban League, advised young people to<br />

“live your life so that whatever you’ve done<br />

leaves an example and a legacy for others<br />

to follow.” The well-educated civil rights<br />

activist, Percy Green, urged students<br />

“to develop a thirst for knowledge,” in order<br />

“to be aware of what is happening around<br />

them…. And then, of course, they need to<br />

challenge authority…to gain insight” until<br />

civic leaders “earn the respect of those<br />

they are directing.” Such sentiments echo the<br />

thoughts of nineteenth-century <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>an,<br />

Carl Schurz, whose words were chiseled on<br />

the Kiel Opera House in 1934 and remain on<br />

the newly-renovated Peabody Opera House:<br />

“Democratic government will be the more<br />

successful the more the public opinion ruling<br />

it is enlightened and inspired by full and<br />

thorough discussion. The greatest danger<br />

threatening democratic institutions comes<br />

from those influences which tend to stifle or<br />

demoralize discussion.”<br />

The great diversity of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans could<br />

produce a great destiny with a promising<br />

future for the city—if people of varied backgrounds<br />

worked together to solve common<br />

problems through multiple perspectives.<br />

In 1991, Henry <strong>Louis</strong> Gates observed that<br />

“our society won’t survive without the values<br />

of tolerance…. The challenge facing America<br />

will be the shaping of a truly common public<br />

culture, one responsive to the long-silenced<br />

cultures of color. If we relinquish the ideal of<br />

America as a plural nation, we’ve abandoned<br />

the very experiment America represents.”<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans of many hues and multiple<br />

heritages today can fully appreciate the<br />

enlightened leadership of Laclede and his<br />

colonists. The early French settlers are<br />

relevant again, because those entrepreneurial<br />

explorers of global commerce enjoyed financial<br />

success in complex dealings with people<br />

of different colors, cultures, and countries—<br />

and shared profits with Indians, who were<br />

the most alien of all.<br />

The celebration of ethnic diversity behind<br />

great deeds is ever present on Delmar<br />

Avenue—recently named “One of the 10<br />

Great <strong>St</strong>reets in America” by the American<br />

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1 4 5

The star of Chuck Berry along the<br />

“Walk of Fame.”<br />


Planning Association. There, the “<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

Walk of Fame” honors 140 creative “stars”<br />

who have enriched our lives in a variety of<br />

successful careers. Beginning in 1988 with<br />

legendary Chuck Berry as the first honoree,<br />

the “Walk of Fame” has highlighted the<br />

significant accomplishments of truly remarkable<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans that should inspire future<br />

generations of “explorers” in every field.<br />

Among them are 45 entertainers, ranging<br />

from Josephine Baker to Kevin Kline, Scott<br />

Joplin to Nelly; ten noted architects; five<br />

favorite broadcasters; 22 sports heroes; scientific<br />

researchers and prominent educators;<br />

and nearly 20 legends of literature. <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

has an enviable heritage of world-famous<br />

authors who achieved renown elsewhere,<br />

such as Maya Angelou, William Burroughs,<br />

T. S. Eliot, and Tennessee Williams, but<br />

the future promises great works from local<br />

writers with no intention of leaving.<br />

Businessman Joe Edwards, proprietor of<br />

the famous Blueberry Hill since 1972 and<br />

founder of several other successful enterprises,<br />

created the Walk of Fame. He believed<br />

that a greater appreciation for local history<br />

and inspiring biographies would enhance<br />

community pride and generate profits in the<br />

celebrated Delmar Loop that he was most<br />

responsible for rejuvenating. He joins other<br />

entrepreneurial “explorers” who continue to<br />

improve <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> with their visions. Among<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


them was the late Bob Cassilly, who built the<br />

innovative City Museum with discarded<br />

materials and artistic creativity and now<br />

attracts some 600,000 paying visitors a year.<br />

Demonstrating the remarkable revitalization<br />

of the old city on a much larger scale<br />

have been thousands of Bosnian immigrants<br />

who achieved prosperity and stability in<br />

the Bevo Mill neighborhood the past two<br />

decades. Now numbering 70,000 in the<br />

metro area—equivalent to one-fifth of the<br />

city’s population—the Bosnians are inspiring<br />

and successful “urban explorers” who have<br />

discovered ways to rebuild lives in restored<br />

The century-old Bevo Mill landmark.<br />




E P I L O G U E<br />

1 4 7

neighborhoods with flourishing enterprises,<br />

despite tragedies in their homeland and language<br />

barriers here. Their distinctive culture<br />

has provided the cohesion in a community<br />

that has transformed <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> since 1993.<br />

They publish the only Bosnian language<br />

newspaper in the United <strong>St</strong>ates; founded a<br />

Bosnian Chamber of Commerce in 2009 with<br />

65 member businesses (the first opened in<br />

1997); and even hosted the president of<br />

Bosnia in 2004. The historic Bevo Mill, erected<br />

during World War I to reflect the charm of<br />

Old Europe, is a fitting symbol of the many<br />

Bosnians who live around it—new immigrants<br />

from an ancient culture who blend<br />

modern lifestyles with traditional values.<br />

Even with the massive Bosnian migration,<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> still ranks a dismal 24th among<br />

the 25 largest U.S. metropolitan areas in the<br />

percentage of immigrants in the total population.<br />

The “<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Mosaic Project,” however,<br />

is trying to recruit more foreign-born entrepreneurs,<br />

who will energize the region with<br />

creative ideas; establish businesses that hire<br />

residents, old and new; and help occupy<br />

some of the 35,000 vacant houses in the<br />

city—the second-highest percentage among<br />

81 U.S. cities with at least 100,000 people.<br />

A youthful generation of native-born urban<br />

homesteaders has also been exploring city life<br />

in recent years. Of the 88,000 people who<br />

work in the business district nearest the river,<br />

an increasing number—roughly 14,000—are<br />

also living there, giving the old city a new<br />

vibrancy in the evening hours. In 2010, the<br />

median age for <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> City residents was 34,<br />

with 24 percent being 19 or younger and<br />

40 percent aged 20-44. Many of the new<br />

downtown dwellers are environmentally<br />

progressive “anti-suburbanites” concerned with<br />

the carbon footprints of air-polluting cars,<br />

so they walk or bike to work and nearby<br />

entertainment venues. Loft-living <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans<br />

in a flyover city are taking cues from innovative,<br />

upscale neighborhoods on both coasts.<br />

The Mercantile Exchange/Laurel Apartment<br />

complex on Washington Avenue, for example,<br />

integrates grand traditional architecture with<br />

ultra-modern amenities, including access to<br />

cars rented by the hour and a movie theater<br />

that serves gourmet meals.<br />

In a recent front-page story in the Post-<br />

Dispatch, entitled “Eight Miles of Progress,”<br />

reporter Tim Bryant found that the long<br />

central corridor stretching from the Arch to<br />

the Delmar Loop between Lindell Boulevard<br />

and Forest Park Avenue was “where <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

succeeds as a city.” Some 60,000 people<br />

reside there (a 10 percent increase since<br />

2000), who, like earlier generations, believe<br />

that “cities are good places to live.” One<br />

of the most prominent and prosperous<br />

companies in that corridor is Cortex, a<br />

technology and bioscience research “hub”<br />

founded in 2002 by a consortium of<br />

Washington University, UMSL, SLU, BJC<br />

Healthcare, and the Missouri Botanical Garden.<br />

It has invested $155 million in midtown<br />

infrastructure and plans another $186 million<br />

to create a total of 2,400 well-paying high<br />

tech jobs over the next five years. The Cortex<br />

Research Park became better known locally<br />

when IKEA announced that it would open<br />

one of its popular retail stores there by 2015.<br />

Even though <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> has retained<br />

only half of the 18 “Fortune 500” company<br />

headquarters that were here in 1980, Express<br />

Scripts Holding achieved the highest ranking<br />

for a local firm in two decades, moving from<br />

60th place to 24th in a single year. It will<br />

build a new $56,000,000 office complex<br />

and add 1,500 employees in the near<br />

future. Monsanto, ranked 206th, plans to add<br />

$400,000,000 worth of expanded research<br />

facilities and some 700 new hires. In 2011,<br />

the area’s Gross Metro Product (GMP) was<br />

$133 billion—21st highest in the United<br />

<strong>St</strong>ates—and <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> had the largest concentration<br />

of elite financial management companies<br />

of any U.S. city outside of <strong>New</strong> York. The<br />

busy barge traffic on the Mississippi River<br />

maintains <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s rank as the nation’s<br />

second largest inland port by tonnage.<br />

Currently, health care leads all area industries<br />

with 34,000 employees, compared with<br />

21,000 jobs in manufacturing. But in 2013,<br />

the Post-Dispatch reported that the “job<br />

search site Dice.com this year ranked<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> as the fastest-growing tech job market<br />

in the nation.” Native <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> entrepreneurs<br />

with international reputations—Jack<br />

Dorsey, creator of Twitter, and Jim McKelvey,<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


co-developer with Dorsey of “Square” (which<br />

enables hand-held electronic devices to<br />

facilitate mobile payments)—are seeking<br />

ways to train more tech-savvy <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans<br />

for employment in such growth industries.<br />

Already paying higher salaries in the information<br />

technology field than most other<br />

American cities, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> has been recruiting<br />

future job-creators among innovative entrepreneurs.<br />

Some thirty-five startup companies<br />

in the last two years have received $50,000<br />

“Arch Grants” in a local initiative to attract<br />

new firms and high-paying jobs to the area.<br />

Occupying office space in the Railway<br />

Exchange Building and receiving advice<br />

from seasoned business professionals, such<br />

companies promise exciting collaborations<br />

that will bring the vitality of cutting-edge<br />

research to the <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> region. Similarly,<br />

“SixThirty,” a local accelerator program<br />

that provides $100,000 startup grants to<br />

technology companies, has attracted new<br />

entrepreneurs to the city.<br />

Many other attributes make <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

the vibrant, vital core of some three million<br />

people in the nation’s 19th largest metropolitan<br />

area, living among 79 city<br />

neighborhoods, a hundred municipalities,<br />

and several rural counties in two<br />

states. While a few suburbs may have<br />

better shopping and gaudier homes,<br />

none of them has the impressive history<br />

and multicultural heritage of “The City.”<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> is indispensable as the undisputed,<br />

centrally-located capital of<br />

the region, dominating the economy,<br />

professional sports, and every type of<br />

entertainment. Most of those who<br />

moved out of the city still remain in<br />

the region, enjoying the best of both<br />

worlds. Suburbs are places to sleep,<br />

while the city is the place to party with<br />

the most diverse and intriguing people<br />

in eastern Missouri. Former residents<br />

regularly return to experience everything<br />

the suburbs lack, including<br />

major league baseball, football, and<br />

hockey, superb restaurants, outstanding<br />

entertainers, holiday celebrations,<br />

historic neighborhoods, and free<br />

world-class cultural institutions in the<br />

Zoo-Museum District. Almost monthly, <strong>St</strong>.<br />

<strong>Louis</strong> City sponsors parades or festivals<br />

focused on the ethnic diversity of its citizens,<br />

48 percent of whom are African Americans,<br />

3.6 percent Hispanics, 2.3 percent Asians,<br />

and 43 percent Caucasians. Of the latter,<br />

15 percent have German ancestry, 9 percent<br />

Irish, 3.7 percent Italian, and 2.4 French.<br />

In 2013, the city offered these wide-ranging<br />

activities for Labor Day weekend alone:<br />

• “LouFest,” featuring thirty bands on three<br />

stages in Forest Park<br />

• “Big Muddy Blues Festival” on Laclede’s<br />

Landing<br />

• The annual Japanese Festival at the Missouri<br />

Botanical Garden<br />

• <strong>St</strong>. Nicholas Greek Festival, along Forest<br />

Park Boulevard<br />

• The annual Polish Festival on <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

Avenue<br />

• The Greater <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Hispanic Festival at<br />

Kiener Plaza<br />

• Art fairs at the Schlafly micro-breweries<br />

• And the City’s annual Labor Day Parade<br />

along Market <strong>St</strong>reet.<br />

Fifteenth annual Komen Race for the Cure<br />

of Breast Cancer, June 15, 2013.<br />



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Art Hill in Forest Park showing the huge crowd viewing a<br />

performance of the “Pageant and Masque of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>,” 1914.<br />


H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


E P I L O G U E<br />

1 5 1

Gone but not forgotten, the popular<br />

S. S. Admiral excursion boat is moored<br />

in front of the old levee warehouses and<br />

railroad tracks prior to the demolition of<br />

486 buildings over thirty-nine city blocks<br />

that began on October 9, 1939. As the<br />

world’s largest inland excursion steamer,<br />

the five-deck Admiral was 375 feet long<br />

and 92 feet wide, drawing only eight feet<br />

of water when fully loaded with over 4,000<br />

passengers, but outlived its usefulness in the<br />

new millennium.<br />



(VPRI 004556).<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />

152<br />

Despite the variety of backgrounds and<br />

beliefs in the city’s population, there are<br />

certain traditions common to our civic culture.<br />

It is inconceivable that <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans would<br />

celebrate Mardi Gras anywhere but in Soulard;<br />

take out-of-town visitors anywhere but<br />

the Gateway Arch, Old Courthouse, and<br />

Anheuser-Busch Brewery; or enjoy a wide<br />

range of recreational and cultural activities in<br />

Forest Park. That beautiful 138-year-old,<br />

1,293-acre park “is the heart of our city.”<br />

Attracting over 12,000,000 visitors a year<br />

since it was substantially revitalized in a<br />

$125 million makeover a decade ago,<br />

Forest Park was honored in 2013 as one of<br />

the nation’s “Top 10 Great Public Spaces” by<br />

the American Planning Association. A laudable<br />

partnership between the city and the<br />

supportive citizens of “Forest Park Forever”<br />

will establish a $10 million endowment to<br />

fund future maintenance.<br />

McCune Gill must have had Forest Park<br />

in mind when he wrote in his 1952<br />

book, The <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> <strong>St</strong>ory, that “places have<br />

souls, the same as individuals,” and their<br />

legacies become virtually immortal if they<br />

represent “the spirit of the people.” Following<br />

are some of those special “spirited” locales<br />

that serve as the social glue binding our<br />

community together with shared traditions<br />

and cherished memories:<br />

R E M E M B E R I N G A<br />

V A N I S H E D S T . L O U I S<br />

Cities are always changing, but rarely as<br />

quickly, dramatically, or as intentionally as<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> did in the mid-twentieth century. In<br />

2002, architectural historian James Kornwolf<br />

observed that ”<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> achieved the unique,<br />

if dubious, status in North America of entirely<br />

obliterating its original urban core in one<br />

fell swoop” when it demolished old riverfront<br />

buildings to build the Gateway Arch. The<br />

“Laclede’s Landing” development saved a<br />

few old warehouses in better shape for more<br />

popular uses, while the Admiral survived as a<br />

symbol of waterfront fun into the new millennium.<br />

But willful demolition, as in the case<br />

of the beloved Arena, is often more regretted<br />

than accidental destruction, like the fire<br />

that burned down the Highlands amusement<br />

park. In 1957 the removal of the beautiful,<br />

venerable Merchants’ Exchange Building led<br />

to the creation of Landmarks Association to<br />

protect and preserve other historic structures.

A M O D E R N B U I L D I N G B O O M<br />

When Missouri became a state in 1821, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> already had 651 homes—232 built of<br />

stone or brick—with 108 new dwellings constructed in the previous six years alone. Anyone<br />

who doubted its meteoric rise as a commercial and industrial metropolis for the rest of that<br />

century should remember Mark Twain’s observations. He first saw <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> in 1853, as a<br />

lad of seventeen, and recalled thirty years later that he “could have bought it [then] for six<br />

million dollars, and it was the mistake of my life that I did not do it.”<br />

N O T A B L E T R E N D S I N D O W N T O W N A R C H I T E C T U R E<br />

O F T H E L A S T C E N T U R Y<br />

S Municipal Courts Building, completed in 1911, next to City Hall, an equally massive<br />

limestone Beaux-Arts creation of local architect Isaac Taylor reflective of the then-current<br />

“City Beautiful” Movement;<br />

S <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Public Library, another masterpiece by Cass Gilbert (who also designed the<br />

Saint <strong>Louis</strong> Art Museum), was opened in 1912 at a cost of $2 million and renovated a<br />

century later after a two-year $70 million restoration.<br />

S Skyscrapers have dominated the cityscape beyond the riverfront since 1914, when<br />

230-foot-tall Union <strong>St</strong>ation was eclipsed by the Railway Exchange Building, then the<br />

world’s largest office building at 277 feet. But only a dozen years later, the Southwestern<br />

Bell Building of 399 feet surpassed it and was <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s tallest office skyscraper until<br />

1969. Topping it by a mere two feet was the Laclede Gas Building, which dominated the<br />

skyline only briefly between 1969 and 1976.<br />

S Although no structure could or would have eclipsed the 630-foot tall Gateway Arch—the<br />

highest monument in the United <strong>St</strong>ates—its completion in 1965 inspired ever-higher<br />

buildings in the private sector. Historians Selwyn K. Troen and Glen E. Holt also noted<br />

that the Arch “stimulated almost $503,000,000 in construction” between 1965 and 1977.<br />

The era of the behemoth skyscrapers began in 1976, when One U.S. Bank Plaza reached<br />

484 feet, only to be surpassed by One AT&T Center within a decade. The height of<br />

that building remained supreme for thirteen years, until One Metropolitan Square opened<br />

at 593 feet in 2000 and remains the city’s tallest building. Far shorter is the beautiful<br />

Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse of 2000, which, at a height of 557 feet, is still the<br />

second tallest judicial building on earth.<br />

S Another distinction of recent <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> architecture was realized with the completion of<br />

the new National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Building in 2011. It is<br />

the largest governmental archive west of the District of Columbia and contains over<br />

600,000 cubic feet of fifty million U.S. military service records.<br />

Even though <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> City recently received a prestigious “World Leadership Award for<br />

Urban Renewal,” has all of that destruction and construction, both public and private,<br />

improved the lives of citizens? That continues to be debated. But no city can stand still or<br />

remain complacent, and <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> would not have a nationally recognizable media image<br />

without the Gateway Arch. Regarding the value of urban renewal for the poorest citizens,<br />

Mayor Schoemehl in 1985 said: “It was ‘cruel’ to pretend…that the construction boom would<br />

break the grip of poverty when it would not. All that the city could do was to try to leverage<br />

the opportunities…into further opportunities and try to skew some of those benefits toward<br />

some of the most needy.”<br />

E P I L O G U E<br />

1 5 3

Above: Some of the many beautifully<br />

restored homes in the Lafayette<br />

Square area.<br />


Opposite: Crown Candy Kitchen, founded in<br />

1913 by Harry Karandzieff, an immigrant<br />

from Macedonia, is now in the third<br />

generation of family ownership. Offering<br />

traditional food and soda fountain<br />

specialties, it is a popular anchor business<br />

in Old North <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, the promising<br />

project of local preservationists since 1981.<br />


H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />

154<br />

P R E S E R V I N G T H E P A S T<br />

Having experienced such massive alterations<br />

of the cityscape, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans are now<br />

particularly protective of traditional neighborhoods.<br />

Spanning generations are the<br />

beautifully-restored residences in Lafayette<br />

Square, Soulard, and other locations with<br />

special character, unique features, and the<br />

added appeal of “walkability.” The eclectic<br />

variety of Cherokee <strong>St</strong>reet shops and the<br />

creative re-use of buildings along Tower<br />

Grove Avenue—with the fashionable new<br />

wine bar, Olio, housed in a 1930s gas<br />

station—reveal ambitious entrepreneurs who<br />

see the advantages of entertaining customers.<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> needs to promote itself as a<br />

tourist mecca for architectural aficionados<br />

who would appreciate our many masterpieces<br />

from different eras: the Chatillon-DeMenil<br />

and Campbell House mansions of the<br />

nineteenth century; the Old Courthouse,<br />

recently restored; the massive Eads Bridge;<br />

Theodore Link’s incomparable Union <strong>St</strong>ation;<br />

<strong>Louis</strong> Sullivan’s still-impressive Wainwright<br />

Building; Cass Gilbert’s beautiful Art Museum<br />

and Central Public Library, Eero Saarinen’s<br />

huge but graceful Gateway Arch; Minoru<br />

Yamasaki’s much-praised Main Terminal of<br />

Lambert International Airport; and Sir David<br />

Chipperfield’s innovative East Building of<br />

the Saint <strong>Louis</strong> Art Museum, opened in 2013.<br />

Another, even more delectable, means of<br />

appreciating the local past is to eat traditional<br />

specialty foods developed and devoured over<br />

many generations. Even though <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> offers

gourmet dining by noted chefs, natives still<br />

crave frozen custard “concretes” from Ted<br />

Drewes, wonderful Italian cuisine on The Hill,<br />

the weekly “Cocktail Museum” at The Royale,<br />

craft beers at Schlafly’s and newer neighborhood<br />

micro-breweries, Imo’s “<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> style” pizza,<br />

hamburgers at Blueberry Hill, toasted ravioli<br />

at Lombardo’s, and old-fashioned milkshakes<br />

and homemade Easter chocolates at Crown<br />

Candy Kitchen.<br />

E P I L O G U E<br />

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H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


Top, left: Balloon Glow in Forest Park,<br />

September 14, 2012, prior to the fortieth<br />

annual “Great Forest Park Balloon Race”<br />

the next day. That popular event regularly<br />

attracts crowds of 100,000 people.<br />



Opposite, bottom left: Photograph of the<br />

“Spherical Balloon Races at Aero Club<br />

Grounds,” from Walter B. <strong>St</strong>evens, ed.,<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>: One Hundred <strong>Years</strong> in a<br />

Week—Celebration of the Centennial<br />

of Incorporation…(<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Centennial<br />

Association, 1909). <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans embrace<br />

selected elements of heritage that they<br />

personally remember but ignore a fuller and<br />

more meaningful history that requires some<br />

research to appreciate. Locals celebrated the<br />

“40th anniversary” of the <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> balloon<br />

race in 2012, without realizing that the<br />

city’s fascination with them began much<br />

earlier—in the mid-1800s—and had<br />

become a local tradition when this<br />

photograph was taken in 1909.<br />

H O N O R I N G<br />

T R A D I T I O N<br />

Left: The legacy of “the Rome of the West”<br />

remained strong when Pope John Paul II<br />

made a popular, thirty-one-hour visit to<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> in January 1999, during which<br />

he celebrated Mass for 104,000 people.<br />


INC., OF ST. LOUIS.<br />

E P I L O G U E<br />

1 5 7

A P P R E C I A T I N G T H E A R T S<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans also demonstrated their<br />

passion for living by strongly supporting<br />

artistic endeavors. Music of all kinds is<br />

still enjoyed in blues bistros, arena rock<br />

concerts, riverfront shows, and symphony<br />

halls. With the opening of the renovated<br />

and renamed Peabody Opera House,<br />

Market <strong>St</strong>reet is again the site of worldclass<br />

stage shows for large audiences in<br />

sumptuous surroundings. All of the creative<br />

arts have been revitalized, as well, in the<br />

rejuvenated Grand Center <strong>Historic</strong> District<br />

in Midtown <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, offering several<br />

popular institutions housed in architectural<br />

gems from every era of the twentieth<br />

century. They include the Fox Theatre,<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


Powell Symphony Hall, The Contemporary<br />

Art Museum Saint <strong>Louis</strong>, Pulitzer<br />

Foundation for the Arts, Sheldon Concert<br />

Hall and Galleries, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Black Repertory<br />

Theater Company, Grand Center Arts<br />

Academy and its rehabbed Sun Theater,<br />

KETC—the PBS television station, and<br />

UMSL-owned KWMU, a National Public<br />

Radio station, which recently relocated<br />

from that campus. Opening at a different<br />

downtown location in 2014 will be the<br />

first National Blues Museum, thanks to<br />

$6 million from Pinnacle Entertainment,<br />

a casino operation that represents the<br />

region’s newest industry. Another enterprise<br />

that will enrich our cultural environment is<br />

the new International Photography Hall of<br />

Fame and Museum.<br />

Gala Opening Night of the new “Peabody<br />

Opera House” on September 19, 2011,<br />

following a $79 million renovation of the<br />

old Kiel Auditorium.<br />



E P I L O G U E<br />

1 5 9

T H E M U S I A L M A G I C<br />

<strong>St</strong>an Musial receiving the Medal of<br />

Freedom from President Barack Obama<br />

in the East Room of the White House on<br />

February 15, 2011.<br />




“The greatest Cardinal ushered in an era of sustained<br />

success,” wrote the Post-Dispatch on January 20, 2013.<br />

“But it was his kindness and approachability that made<br />

him an enduring civic treasure.”<br />

The affable, unconceited <strong>St</strong>an Musial was a perfect<br />

fit for an unpretentious, baseball-crazy city that<br />

appreciated natural talent and maximum effort.<br />

Although he was born elsewhere, he loved <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> and<br />

never left, preferring local affection over the national<br />

attention he would have received in a larger, more<br />

lucrative media market. Here, being “nice” was most<br />

appreciated as one of the traditional “hometown” values<br />

of the Midwest.<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans embraced Musial as a humble hero—a<br />

person who inspired people to live better lives, or<br />

at least to make them feel better about their lives. While few mortals could match the incredible<br />

statistics he compiled between Pearl Harbor and President Kennedy’s assassination, all<br />

of us can follow his example of spreading some joy to others. The greatness and graciousness<br />

of <strong>St</strong>an “the Man” Musial epitomized the best “Spirit of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>.” Our city will remain a<br />

better place long into the future, if those who meet friends under the bronze Musial <strong>St</strong>atue<br />

remember that in life, too, he always brought us together.<br />

( R E ) S E A R C H I N G<br />

F O R A B E T T E R F U T U R E<br />

Laclede’s intellectual legacy remains<br />

stronger than ever in the twenty-first century.<br />

It is reflected in our major research universities<br />

and universally-respected medical facilities<br />

that have produced several Nobel<br />

Laureates, the Baby Tooth Research Project<br />

on Radioactivity, the Human Genome Project,<br />

and the Masters and Johnson studies on<br />

human sexuality, among other contributions.<br />

The Missouri History Museum Archives and<br />

Research Center, the Mercantile Library at the<br />

University of Missouri-<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>, and other<br />

public and private libraries in the area make<br />

our city the global center of research on the<br />

American West. In addition, Washington<br />

University owns several of Thomas Jefferson’s<br />

books, and Saint <strong>Louis</strong> University houses the<br />

largest collection of Vatican manuscripts in<br />

the Western Hemisphere. When the renovated<br />

Museum of Western Expansion at the<br />

Gateway Arch reopens in 2016, it will represent<br />

the most up-to-date educational exhibits<br />

on the American West.<br />

C O N T R I B U T I N G<br />

T O C I T I Z E N S H I P<br />

A N D C H A R I T I E S<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans have long been described as<br />

compassionate and caring citizens with<br />

“old fashioned hometown” values, expressed<br />

by their generous support of many worthy<br />

causes. During the Great Depression in 1935,<br />

71 percent of voting <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans approved<br />

a $7.5 million bond issue to support a<br />

national memorial along the riverfront.<br />

Again, in 2013, voters agreed to a 3/16 cent<br />

sales tax that will raise $780 million to<br />

fund parks and an extensive makeover of<br />

the Gateway Arch grounds. <strong>St</strong>atistics from<br />

2010 also revealed that <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans’ per<br />

capita rate of online charitable contributions<br />

and volunteerism were among the highest<br />

of all major U.S. cities. In 2011, 60,000<br />

local runners set a national record for<br />

participation in the Komen Race for the Cure<br />

of breast cancer. <strong>St</strong> <strong>Louis</strong> City was also the<br />

“first U.S. community to honor returning<br />

vets of the Iraq War” on February 4, 2012,<br />

as reported by NBC Nightly <strong>New</strong>s. The<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


acclaimed humanitarianism of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

native, Dr. Thomas Anthony Dooley III, in<br />

Southeast Asia has inspired his fellow<br />

citizens, such as the Reverend Larry Rice of<br />

the <strong>New</strong> Life Evangelistic Center, to help<br />

the disadvantaged here at home. Countless<br />

citizens worked for weeks to hold back<br />

the record-high flood waters in 1993 and<br />

assist the victims of that massive tragedy, as<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans have always done for every<br />

tornado, earthquake, or other natural disaster.<br />

The same community-wide compassion<br />

resulted in a public outpouring of sympathy<br />

and respect when <strong>St</strong>an Musial died in<br />

January 2013.<br />

<strong>St</strong>an was the ultimate embodiment of the<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Cardinals—the city’s most beloved<br />

institution. That franchise is the most<br />

successful in National League history, having<br />

won eleven World Series championships.<br />

But the Cardinals have lost eight other<br />

championships, and that, too, is worth<br />

remembering. Outspent by many other<br />

teams, the scrappy, underdog Cardinals have<br />

been the ultimate “explorers” in the search<br />

for success even with limited resources, and<br />

that resonates with a large fan-base that is not<br />

affluent. In a sort of apprentice system that<br />

recalls older mountain men training the<br />

younger in the keys to survival, the Cardinals<br />

recruit, train, and promote largely from<br />

within the organization, which places a<br />

premium on the special “redbird way,” referring<br />

to how players conduct themselves on<br />

and off the field to deserve the respect of<br />

passionate fans.<br />

All three “Busch <strong>St</strong>adiums” have been<br />

places where warm people met on hot<br />

summer nights. In July 2013, Will Leitch<br />

ranked all of the major league baseball parks<br />

and declared that the current Busch <strong>St</strong>adium<br />

was #7 due to its “general warm vibe.” He<br />

confessed that he would “rather be there than<br />

just about anywhere else in the world.”<br />

The <strong>250</strong>th anniversary provides the best<br />

opportunity in the twenty-first century for<br />

the entire community to determine the<br />

identity and destiny of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>. But we<br />

must first address the city’s long-standing<br />

inferiority complex, which began in the<br />

nineteenth-century competition with Chicago<br />

for railroad supremacy and continues today<br />

in using Tax Increment Funding as a<br />

defensive measure to keep lucrative local<br />

companies in town. <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> has the urban<br />

equivalent of low self-esteem, because<br />

officials have spent decades tearing down<br />

beloved buildings, while citizens have been<br />

tearing down the city’s reputation. Residents<br />

rarely boast but do bristle at every criticism<br />

from either coast and are amazed when a<br />

non-Midwesterner actually appreciates their<br />

politeness and friendliness. Aaron Perlut, who<br />

co-launched the “Rally <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>” website<br />

in 2012, reflected the low level of boosterism<br />

in his blog, “<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Doesn’t Suck.”<br />

Borrowing the motto of Cahokia, Illinois,<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans should have “Pride in the Past”<br />

and “Faith in the Future.” The two are linked,<br />

because a true appreciation of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> as<br />

a special place worth praising must begin<br />

with a thorough, accurate knowledge of<br />

its history by enthusiastic residents who<br />

respect its achievements, while recognizing<br />

its deficiencies. In 2006, Richard Rosenfeld,<br />

UMSL criminology professor, wrote that<br />

“<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>’s best chance for a bright future<br />

depends on forging creative connections with<br />

the past.” In his 2010 book, Beyond Preservation,<br />

Andrew Hurley agreed that we must study<br />

history “to know what worked and what<br />

failed,…what was admirable and what was<br />

reprehensible” in the past, in order to “devise<br />

innovative ways of adapting existing infrastructures<br />

to new conditions so as not to<br />

create a rupture between past and present.”<br />

For two-and-a-half centuries, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

has prospered from the confluence of rivers<br />

and the convergence of cultures, taking the<br />

lead in new commercial trends and always<br />

adapting to changing times. Ever since an<br />

exploring French businessman founded our<br />

city, a focus on transactions has helped our<br />

leaders adjust to transitions. Today, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

is one of a very few premier “Legacy” cities,<br />

and is often compared to Boston for its significant<br />

contributions to American history<br />

across the centuries, as well as the current<br />

quality of life in its historic neighborhoods.<br />

“Few cities have had as colorful a history as<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>,” wrote three respected historians<br />

in Missouri: The Heart of the Nation (2004),<br />

E P I L O G U E<br />

1 6 1

Opposite: Fireworks from Fair <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

light up the night sky on July 3, 2010, above<br />

the iconic, popular Gateway Arch and<br />

Old Courthouse.<br />



and “today it remains one of the most<br />

interesting and distinctive of American<br />

cities.” The nationwide name-recognition of<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> is the main reason that suburban<br />

residents continue to use the city as their<br />

postal address.<br />

In 1909, the <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Republic stated that<br />

“in the development of the United <strong>St</strong>ates,<br />

magnitude has been the dominant thought<br />

of its people.” But “Laclede pictured the city<br />

to grow on his selected site as something<br />

more and something better than merely big.”<br />

He “intended to ‘establish a settlement which<br />

might become thereafter one of the finest<br />

cities in America.’” By rejecting the old<br />

Quantitative Ethic, which has depressed<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans with a drop in population nearly<br />

impossible to reverse in the era of interstate<br />

highways, residents should embrace a<br />

Qualitative Ethic represented by a smaller,<br />

less crowded, and more livable, city, with the<br />

room and resources to improve their lives.<br />

The city is definitely finer because it is not<br />

bigger. It has all the facilities of a major city—<br />

skyscrapers, international corporations, and<br />

a prestigious professional baseball team<br />

(fortunately founded when it was much<br />

larger)—but provides a moderately-sized<br />

population with rare opportunities for home<br />

ownership and one of the lowest costs of<br />

urban living in the nation. All <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans<br />

are similar to a retired couple of “emptynesters,”<br />

living in a large comfortable “house”<br />

designed for many more people. Most city<br />

residents are spared the rat-race pace of daily<br />

living, as well as the hellish commutes found<br />

in major metropolises on both coasts and in<br />

Chicago, too. City dwellers regard <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong><br />

as half-full, rather than half-empty, with its<br />

greater livability contributing to its lovability.<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans have the patience to practice<br />

their famous politeness and to laugh at<br />

things considered “silly” in less enjoyable<br />

cities—such as the 2011 World Series’ “rally<br />

squirrel” that scampered across home plate<br />

at Busch <strong>St</strong>adium.<br />

At the end of his Lion of the Valley, James<br />

Neal Primm wrote that “<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>ans could<br />

claim to have turned things around in the<br />

1980s, and they looked ahead to the<br />

next decade with more confidence than<br />

they had ten years earlier.” That proved to<br />

be too optimistic, of course, but now there<br />

is a growing momentum for a true renaissance—positive,<br />

progressive improvements<br />

embodied by the term “metromorphosis,”<br />

which was coined by UMSL professors<br />

Brady Baybeck and E. Terrence Jones in their<br />

2004 book.<br />

Currently, high-level discussions are taking<br />

place among city and county officials about a<br />

possible future “Great Reconciliation,” and<br />

two organizations—“STL: World Class City”<br />

and “Better Together”—see many positive<br />

developments from such a merger. With<br />

a substantial portion of the U.S. population<br />

living within a 500-mile radius of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>,<br />

it can be America’s “Carnival City” again.<br />

It has the infrastructure and the attractions<br />

to please tourists, but the attitudes of<br />

residents must reflect a new optimism as they<br />

welcome visitors.<br />

As a city of explorers, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> has always<br />

accepted the risks of searching for the new<br />

and different. Often such discoveries are not<br />

made or fully exploited, and the ways<br />

those disappointments are handled become<br />

discoveries themselves. Almost a century<br />

ago, Albert Ahern wrote a poem to honor<br />

The Trappers of North America, and this stanza<br />

seems most appropriate as an anniversary<br />

tribute for the old fur trade capital that<br />

has never stopped exploring for two-anda-half<br />

centuries:<br />

“It isn’t the size of the cabin you’ve built,<br />

Nor what you have won in pelts or fame,<br />

The thing that counts is the right to say:<br />

I have kept the faith—I have played the game.”<br />

For all you have been, and for all you can<br />

become, <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>—Happy <strong>250</strong>th Birthday!<br />

H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />


E P I L O G U E<br />

1 6 3

City House and Jazz Bistro, among many<br />

venues in the popular Grand Center<br />

Entertainment District.<br />




H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />



H i s t o r i c p r o f i l e s o f b u s i n e s s e s ,<br />

o r g a n i z a t i o n s , a n d f a m i l i e s t h a t h a v e<br />

c o n t r i b u t e d t o t h e d e v e l o p m e n t a n d<br />

e c o n o m i c b a s e o f S t . L o u i s<br />

Quality of Life ......................................................1 6 6<br />

The Marketplace ...................................................2 3 2<br />

Building a Greater <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> ...................................2 7 0<br />

S H A R I N G T H E H E R I T A G E<br />

1 6 5

The World Chess Hall of Fame, which relocated to the <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> area in 2011.<br />


H I S T O R I C S T . L O U I S<br />



H e a l t h c a r e p r o v i d e r s , f o u n d a t i o n s ,<br />

u n i v e r s i t i e s , a n d o t h e r i n s t i t u t i o n s t h a t<br />

c o n t r i b u t e t o t h e q u a l i t y o f l i f e i n S t . L o u i s<br />

Lindenwood University ...............................................................1 6 8<br />

Washington University in <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> ...............................................1 7 2<br />

SSM Health Care .......................................................................1 7 6<br />

The University of Missouri-<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> .............................................1 8 0<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Mercantile Library and UMSL .....................................1 8 2<br />

Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center .............................1 8 3<br />

Bi-<strong>St</strong>ate Development Agency.......................................................1 8 4<br />

Archdiocese of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> ..............................................................1 8 8<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Community College .......................................................1 9 1<br />

Webster University ....................................................................1 9 2<br />

<strong>St</strong>. Luke’s Hospital .....................................................................1 9 5<br />

JCI ..........................................................................................1 9 6<br />

American Red Cross ...................................................................1 9 9<br />

The Muny .................................................................................2 0 0<br />

Fontbonne University .................................................................2 0 3<br />

World Affairs Council of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> ................................................2 0 4<br />

BJC HealthCare .........................................................................2 0 6<br />

Delta Dental of Missouri ............................................................2 0 8<br />

Maryville University ..................................................................2 1 0<br />

The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod ...........................................2 1 2<br />

Ascension .................................................................................2 1 4<br />

Missouri Botanical Garden ..........................................................2 1 6<br />

Saint <strong>Louis</strong> Science Center ..........................................................2 1 8<br />

Saint <strong>Louis</strong> Zoo .........................................................................2 2 0<br />

Mathews-Dickey Boys’ & Girls’ Club ............................................2 2 2<br />

Harris-<strong>St</strong>owe <strong>St</strong>ate University .....................................................2 2 3<br />

Greater Saint <strong>Louis</strong> Community Foundation ...................................2 2 4<br />

<strong>St</strong>. Mary of Victories Church (1843) .............................................2 2 5<br />

Sisters of <strong>St</strong>. Joseph of Carondelet ................................................2 2 6<br />

Central Bureau of the Catholic Central Verein of America ................2 2 7<br />

Commemoration Committee for the Battle of Fort San Carlos ............2 2 8<br />

Mercy Health ............................................................................2 2 9<br />

Missouri Humanities Council .......................................................2 3 0<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong> Public Library ..............................................................2 3 1<br />



Max Kaiser, Jr.<br />

<strong>St</strong>. Andrew’s Resources for<br />

Seniors System<br />

Webster University<br />

Q U A L I T Y O F L I F E<br />

1 6 7



Few schools anywhere have compiled<br />

a history as exciting—or inspiring—as<br />

Lindenwood University, a dynamic four-year<br />

liberal arts institution dedicated to excellence<br />

in higher education. Founded in 1827,<br />

Lindenwood took its name from the beautiful<br />

Linden trees that shade the historic 500-acre<br />

campus in <strong>St</strong>. Charles, a growing community<br />

just west of <strong>St</strong>. <strong>Louis</strong>.<br />

Lindenwood University offers more than<br />

120 undergraduate and graduate degree<br />

programs to more than 16,000 students from<br />

throughout the United <strong>St</strong>ates and ninety<br />

countries around the world. The faculty,<br />

staff and administration at Lindenwood are<br />

committed to an integrative liberal arts<br />

curriculum that focuses on the talents,<br />

interests and future of our students.<br />

In 1827, George and Mary moved to land<br />

he had purchased some years earlier near<br />

<strong>St</strong>. Charles in order to be near Mary’s family.<br />

Mary immediately began teaching the young<br />

women of <strong>St</strong>. Charles while George cleared<br />

the land and established a homestead. The<br />

Sibley’s property was named Linden Wood<br />

because of the many Linden (or basswood)<br />

trees that grew on the land.<br />

The Sibleys were strong supporters of<br />

education for women: they began their school<br />

at a time when formal education for women<br />

was uncommon in the United <strong>St</strong>ates. Mary<br />

commented that, “Our country will never<br />

prosper unless the people get knowledge.”<br />

In his writings, George said, “Woman is<br />

the most important sex; and if but half of<br />

our race can be educated, let it be woman<br />

instead of man. Woman forms our character:<br />

she is with us through life; she nurses us<br />

in infancy; she watches us in sickness,<br />

soothes us in distress, and cheers us in the<br />

melancholy of old age.”<br />

Left: George Sibley—Before moving to<br />

<strong>St</strong>. Charles with his wife, Sibley served as<br />

the head official that traded with Indians at<br />

Fort Osage near current day Kansas City,<br />

Missouri. His descriptions of the Indians<br />

in that region were among the first by an<br />

American. Later, Sibley led the group that<br />