The History of World Expositions

The Saint Louis World Exposition 1904
Commemoration of the expansion of US American territory


Year: 1904
City: St. Louis
Country: USA
Duration: 30th April - 1st December 1904
 1 


Copyright:
Antecedents

As early as 1889, the American press started to press for a festival to commemorate the anniversary of the Louisiana purchase. On 30 April 1803, the United States, under the presidency of Thomas Jefferson, had purchased this area covering two and a half million square metres along the banks of the Mississippi from Napoleon, paying a price of fifteen million dollars. After important historical events had already been commemorated at two world expositions on American soil the Declaration of Independence (celebrated in Philadelphia in 1876) and the discovery of America (celebrated in Chicago in 1893) the third American World´s Fair was now intended to commemorate the expansion of US American territory.
But it was not until 7 June 1896 that these ideas, which had long been in circulation, started to assume a concrete form, namely when the then governor of Missouri, David R. Francis, made a strong plea in favour of holding a World's Fair in Saint Louis before a meeting of the Business Men's League, pointing to the value that such an event could have for trade and also its moral value. Soon after the Central Trade and Labour Union of Saint Louis had decided to support the project on 23 January 1898, it also became clear that the Federal Government was interested in the project. Such an event not only seemed appropriate for expanding trading relations and propagating technical progress, but also for overcoming internal political difficulties and justifying imperialistic efforts at expansion.
A committee of ten citizens headed by Pierre Chouteau was commissioned to elaborate a concept for the exposition. As in Chicago in 1893, the organisational structure which was finally envisaged provided for two central bodies: the United States Government Commission and the Louisiana Purchase Exposition Company, of which David R. Francis became the president. In addition to this, the Board of Lady Managers was formed to represent the women and was presided over by Mrs Blair and Mrs Manning.
Initially there were fifteen million dollars available to finance the project, the Government, the City of Saint Louis and private supporters each providing five million. On 20 August 1901 President McKinley released a proclamation addressed to all nations. This proclamation went hand in hand with an official invitation to visit the World's Fair. In America the initiative aroused lively interest so that Congress and the other federal states provided further funds to finance the project. The year in which the exposition was to open was 1903 exactly 100 years after the purchase of the territory in Louisiana. This exposition was to excel all others, but interest from abroad was only subdued initially, so the opening was postponed until 1904. David R. Francis used this respite to take a tour of Europe in order to urge people in its capital cities to attend the event with the aid of an elaborate advertising campaign.



EXPOSEEUM - The Museum of World Exhibitions, Hanover, Expo Plaza 11
Open every Sunday from 11 to 16