St. Louis' Great Divorce: A complete history of the city and county separation and attempts to get back together

When and how St. Louis City and County split—and why it was never legal in the first place.

We’ve been wasting our breath arguing. This whole city-county arrangement was never legal in the first place. First, the Scheme to divide the city of St. Louis from the county was submitted after midnight on July 3, 1875—on a national holiday, when legal documents cannot be filed.

Second, the vote to separate the city from the county failed. City residents just barely voted yes (11,878 to 11,525), and county residents voted no (2,617 to 848).

Then there was a recount—after a judge in the Missouri Court of Appeals threw out ballots that showed partially erased yes votes replaced with nos. According to the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, election officials admitted they’d “stuffed in bogus votes by the handful, swore to false returns and by every device of perjury, corruption and rascality did all that lay in their power to convert the election into a shameless farce.” They said they’d been directed to falsify the count by politicians (in both city and county) who feared they’d lose power if the measure passed. The politicians at fault were not indicted, but the court did direct that the ballots be recounted. The new tally flipped the outcome to victory by a margin of 1,253.

And with that inauspicious beginning, city and county separated.






BT Municipal CAFR (editable) Better Together | Public Finance | STLv3
Better Together Report Endnotes STLv3
BT Budget Analysis and Fiscal Analysis Better Together | City Budget | Fiscal Analysis | Municipal Finances | STLv3
Professor Jones Better Together Analysis Terry Jones | Better Together | STLv3
STL99 Expired Tags | MoLeg | Privatization | Port Authority | Opportunity Zones | School Board | STL99 | STLv3 | Surveillance | Tax Abatement
The Deathly Hollows [sic] Privatization | Port Authority | STLv3
STLv3 on the Archive STLv3
Better Together Report Better Together | STLv3
Data Library Browse - Better Together Saint Louis OpenData | aackathon | Better Together | STLv3
U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: St. Louis city, Missouri; St. Louis County, Missouri OpenData | OpenGovSTL | Census | STLv3
Saint Louis County Open Data OpenData | OpenGovSTLco | GIS | STLv3
Where We Stand – East-West Gateway Council of Governments (EWGCOG) STLv3
Board of Freeholders - MO Constitution Board of Freeholders | Missouri Constitution | STLv3
Dismantling the Divide Report Dismantling the Divide | Segregation | STLv3
City Open Data City | OpenData | City Toolbox | GIS | OpenGov | STLv3
Studies & Resources - St. Louis Strong STL Strong | STLv3
Metro City Constitutional Amendment Better Together | MoLeg | STLv3