The Liberty Bell of the West
Quebec and Louisiana may be the two of the well-known of the North American French colonies, but The Lewis and Clark Trail is home to dozens of French colonies, all of which had a strategic and economic importance during the 1700s and 1800s.
In Illinois, the influence of the French was essential for growing the food needed that would ultimately be shipped to the bustling city of New Orleans. This meant that larger towns in the Midwest was a major asset to France. One of these important towns was Kaskaskia, which had a population in the thousands and was home to a large trading post.
Kaskaskia was of such importance by 1741 that Louis XV, the King of France, gave a bell to the city of Kaskaskia for its church. Soon after however, France would lose all of its North American colonies just a few decades after the French and Indian Wars.
Kaskaskia would continue to be a place of great historical importance for many years, until floods from the Mississippi River destroyed the original town and made the once valuable area very precarious. However, the bell that the king gave the town still remains and is a powerful symbol. Because it was rung by the Americans to celebrate victory against the British during the Revolutionary Wars, it is called the “Liberty Bell of the West,” and is rung every 4th of July.