Louisiana Purchase Land Transfer

The land acquired in the Louisiana Purchase deal was divided into two parts, Upper and Lower Louisiana.

On Nov. 30, 1803 a ceremony was held in New Orleans in which the Spanish have formally given up physical possession of Louisiana to the French. The American flag was raised over New Orleans for the first time on December 20, 1803 during a ceremony in which French turned Lower Louisiana over to the United States.

On March 9, 1804 a ceremony was conducted in St. Louis, near what is now the Gateway Arch Park, to transfer ownership of Upper Louisiana.

The 'Three Flags Ceremony', as it was later named, was a display of 19th century international relations. The Spanish governor (who was actually a Frenchman) raised the Spanish flag, then lowered it, to represent Spain's cession of the territory to France. An American representing the French then raised the French flag which flew overnight and was replaced by the American flag the next day buy the same person who was now representing the United States. The residents of the Louisiana Territory thus became American citizens.

On October 1, 1804, the purchased territory was re-organized into the Orleans Territory, which later became the state of Louisiana, and the District of Louisiana, which was temporarily under the control of the Indiana Territory.

Browse Historic Overview: Background | Treaty Negotiation | Treaty Signing | Land Transfer | Land Bought |

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