Letters with never-before-published details donated to Missouri Historical Society; one from a president

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ST. LOUIS – Twelve letters, with never-before-published details, are providing insight into life in French colonial St. Louis. The historically significant letters date back to the late 1700s and early 1800s.

The letters will be added to the Missouri Historical Society Collections thanks to the generosity of two donors.

One of the letters was written on Nov. 12, 1803, by General (and future president) William Henry Harrison. It was sent to Charles Dehault Delassus, the last colonial governor of Upper Louisiana, to confirm the news that the United States had indeed purchased Napoleon’s cessation of land west of the Mississippi River. That letter was donated by Henry and Susan Warshaw.

Eleven other letters, donated by the Sharp family. Some of those letters were written to Charles Dehault Delassus by Baron De Carondelet. The correspondence provides details of military intrigue, colonial affairs, and daily life in colonial Missouri.

These letters will provide scholars and historians with a greater understanding of what life was like when the Spanish and French flags flew over St. Louis. The president of the Missouri Historical Society says the letters will also greatly increase our area’s understanding of a critical period of American history that changed the direction of our nation.

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