Imagine, if you will, that you wake up one morning and check the headlines on your phone only to discover that life in the St. Louis you know and love has been irrevocably changed; your home, your friends, your idiot neighbor who always trips his car alarm, the surrounding territory, everything has been sold to France. You went to bed American, and you woke up French, and no one even asked you if you wanted the beret and the pack of Gitanes. The reverse of this nightmare scenario happened to everybody in St. Louis in 1803, when Napoleon sold St. Louis and everything west of the Mississippi to crafty Thomas Jefferson, unilaterally making everyone in the city foreigners in their own homes. (Incidentally, these poor French-citizens-no-more didn't find out on their smart phones; I believe beavers were conscripted to carve the news on trees and fence posts, but I'll have to check my notes to confirm that). University of Missouri-St. Louis associate history professor Dr. Fred Fausz explains the ramifications of the Louisiana Purchase on those long-ago St. Louisans in a lecture entitled "Napoleon's Impact on French St. Louis in an Era of Emperors." Did the people immediately begin mangling the French street names, or did it take a week or two before they lost their savoir-faire? Find out at 7 p.m. this evening at the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue; 314-746-4599 or www.mohistory.org). Admission is free.
Wed., Feb. 16, 2011