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Missouri is a state of the central United States. It was admitted as the 24th state in 1821. Under Spanish control from 1762 to 1800, the area passed to the United States through the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Organized as a territory in 1812, Missouri's application for admission as a slaveholding state in 1817 sparked a bitter controversy over the question of extending slavery into new territories. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 provided for the admission of Maine as a free state and Missouri as a slave state in the following year. Jefferson City is the capital and St. Louis the largest city. Population: 5,800,000.

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St. Louis Arch

Throughout the pre–Civil War period and during the war, Missourians were sharply divided in their opinions about slavery and in their allegiances, supplying both Union and Confederate forces with troops. However, the state itself remained in the Union.

Historically, Missouri played a leading role as a gateway to the West, St. Joseph being the eastern starting point of the Pony Express, while the much-traveled Santa Fe eastern terminus was Franklin in 1921, Missouri; by 1832, Independence, Missouri; and by 1845, Kansas City, Missouri. Independence, Missouri was the most popular "jumping off" point on the Oregon Trail.

Missouri's recorded history begins in the latter half of the 17th century when the French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet were the first white people to see the Missouri River in 1673, followed by Robert Cavelier, sieur de La Salle, who in 1682 claimed the whole area drained by the Mississippi River for France, calling the territory Louisiana , after King Louis XIV.

When the French explorers arrived the area was inhabited by Native Americans of the Osage and the Missouri groups, and by the end of the 17th century French trade with the Native Americans flourished.

In the early 18th century the French worked the area's lead mines and made numerous trips through Missouri in search of furs. Missionaries established St. Francis Xavier, the first white settlement of Missouri. It was located near present-day St. Louis, but was deserted in 1703. Trade down the Mississippi prompted the settlement of Ste. Geneviève about 1735 and the founding of St. Louis in 1764 by Pierre Laclede and René Auguste Chouteau, who were both in the fur-trading business.

Although not involved in the last conflict (1754–63) of the French and Indian Wars, Missouri was affected by the French defeat when, in 1762, France secretly ceded the territory west of the Mississippi to Spain. Although few Spaniards settled Missouri, many U.S. miners and farmers entered from Mississippi.

In 1800, France reclaimed the Louisiana Territory and in 1803, sold it to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase. French influence remained dominant, even though by this time Americans had filtered into the territory, particularly to the lead mines at Ste Geneviève and Potosi. By the time of the Lewis and Clark expedition (1803–6), St. Louis was already known as the gateway to the Far West.

The Missouri Territory was organized in 1812., but settlement was slow even after the War of 1812. The coming of the steamboat increased traffic and trade on the Mississippi, and settlement progressed. Planters from the South had introduced slavery into the territory, but their plantations were restricted to a small area.

As people flooded into Missouri, Native Americans grew angry and began raiding settlements. During the War of 1812, Britain supplied the Indians with weapons and encouraged them to attack Missouri settlements. Not until 1815 did the attacks end with a peace treaty at Portage des Sioux. By 1825, few Native Americans lived in Missouri.

However, the question of admitting the Missouri Territory as a state became a burning national issue because it involved the question of extending slavery into the territories. Attempts for statehood started in 1818, but questions concerning slavery in the state were not settled until 1820. The dispute was resolved by the Missouri Compromise, which admitted (1821) Missouri to the Union as a slave state but excluded slavery from lands of the Louisiana Purchase north of lat. 36°30´N. (All of Missouri lies north of 36°30´ except for the southeastern "bootheel") and allowed Maine become a free state. This kept the number of slave and free states equal. Missouri became the 24th state on Aug. 10, 1821.

Slaveholding interests became politically powerful, but the state remained principally a fur-trading center. The American Fur Company organized in St. Louis in 1822 and soon developed a monopoly on all fur trade west of the Mississippi River. Trade with Mexico was very successful. The Santa Fe Trail connected Independence with the Southwest. Independence also marked the beginning of the Oregon Trail that led thousands to the Pacific Northwest.

In 1854 the problem of slavery was made acute with the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, leaving the question of slavery in the Kansas and Nebraska territories to the settlers themselves. The proslavery forces in Missouri became very active in trying to win Kansas for the slave cause and contributed to the violence and disorder that tore the territory apart in the years just prior to the Civil War. Nevertheless Missouri also had leaders opposed to slavery, including one of its Senators, Thomas Hart Benton.

In 1857, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Dred Scott Decision that slaves were considered property. This historic decision increased tension between the North and the South. Kansas, located on Missouri's western border, became a free state in 1861. Fighting between Kansas and Missouri began and continued into the Civil War.

During the Civil War most Missourians remained loyal to the federal government. In 1861, a convention was called to determine whether Missouri would secede from the Union. Although the majority voted to support the Union, Governor Claiborne Jackson refused to send troops at the request of President Lincoln. Jackson led the state militia against Union troops at the Battle of Boonville. Jackson's militia was forced to southern Missouri where they defeated Union troops at Wilson' Creek. Shortly after, the state convention met again to remove all pro-Confederate state leaders from office.

The coming of the railroads brought the eventual decay of many of Missouri's river towns and tied the state more closely to the East and North. St. Louis and Kansas City became important railroad centers. Outlaws held up banks, stagecoaches, and trains. Jesse James terrorized the state for over 20 years until he was killed by one of his own gang in 1882. Urbanization and industrialization progressed, and the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, held at St. Louis in 1904, dramatically revealed Missouri's economic growth. The following year laws were passed that required inspection of working conditions and regulation of child labor and public utilities in Missouri.

Although during World War I, general prosperity prevailed in the state. Missouri's industries expanded to help supply war materials. John Pershing of Linn County was named commander in chief of the U.S. forces in France. The Great Depression (1929-1939) caused more than 200,000 Missourians to lose their jobs and some to lose their land. The federal government established programs to help bring employment to Missouri.

World War II (1939-1945) also revived the economy as factories again opened to provide war materials and both St. Louis and Kansas City served as vital transportation centers, and industrialization increased enormously. In the postwar period, Missouri became the second largest producer (behind Michigan) of automobiles in the nation. Although most industry remains based in the two metropolitan centers, smaller Missouri communities, especially suburbs, have since attracted much light and heavy industry, as well as former city dwellers. St. Louis lost half its population between 1950 to 1990, and out-migration has continued; what was once the fourth largest U.S. city is now barely in the top 50 in size.

New industries moved to Missouri during the 1950s. A uranium-processing plant opened in Weldon Spring, electronic plants were built in Joplin, and factories in St. Louis and Neosho began producing parts for spacecrafts. Economic growth continued through the 1960s. State leaders encouraged tourism and the expansion of mining throughout the state.

Missouri encountered serious pollution problems in the early 1980s. Contamination threatened ground water supplies and poisonous substances were discovered in Times Beach. The federal government is striving to help Missouri clean these areas. As urban problems became serious, St. Louis and Kansas City rebuilt their riverfronts. Missouri was also faced with financial problems. In 1986, a state lottery was established to help with education, welfare, and environmental programs.


  • Missouri is known as the "Show Me State".
  • The 'Show Me State' expression may have began in 1899 when Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver stated, "I'm from Missouri and you've got to show me."
  • The first successful parachute jump to be made from a moving airplane was made by Captain Berry at St. Louis, in 1912.
  • The most destructive tornado on record occurred in Annapolis. In 3 hours, it tore through the town on March 18, 1925 leaving a 980-foot wide trail of demolished buildings, uprooted trees, and overturned cars. It left 823 people dead and almost 3,000 injured.
  • At the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904, Richard Blechyden, served tea with ice and invented iced tea.
  • Also, at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904, the ice cream cone was invented. An ice cream vendor ran out of cups and asked a waffle vendor to help by rolling up waffles to hold ice cream.
  • Missouri ties with Tennessee as the most neighborly state in the union, bordered by 8 states.
  • The state animal is the Mule.
  • St. Louis; is also called, "The Gateway to the West" and "Home of the Blues".
  • Warsaw holds the state record for the low temperature of -40 degrees on February 13, 1905.
  • Warsaw holds the state record for the high temperature recorded, 118 degrees on July 14, 1954.
  • State bird--native Bluebird March 30, 1927
  • State insect--honey bee July 3, 1985
  • Mozarkite was adopted as the official state rock on July 21, 1967, by the 74th General Assembly.
  • On July 21, 1967, the mineral galena was adopted as the official mineral of Missouri.
  • The crinoid became the state's official fossil on June 16, 1989, after a group of Lee's Summit school students worked through the legislative process to promote it as a state symbol.
  • On June 20, 1955, the flowering dogwood (Cornus Florida L.) became Missouri's official tree.
  • The "Missouri Waltz" became the state song under an act adopted by the General Assembly on June 30, 1949
  • The present Capitol completed in 1917 and occupied the following year is the third Capitol in Jefferson City and the sixth in Missouri history. The first seat of state government was housed in the Mansion House, Third and Vine Streets, St. Louis; the second was in the Missouri Hotel, Maine and Morgan Streets, also in St. Louis. St. Charles was designated as temporary capital of the state in 1821 and remained the seat of government until 1826 when Jefferson City became the permanent capital city.
  • The first Capitol in Jefferson City burned in 1837 and a second structure completed in 1840 burned when the dome was struck by lightning on February 5, 1911.
  • Kansas City has more miles of boulevards than Paris and more fountains than any city except Rome.
  • Kansas City has more miles of freeway per capita than any metro area with more than 1 million residents.
  • Jefferson National Expansion Memorial consists of the Gateway Arch, the Museum of Westward Expansion, and St. Louis' Old Courthouse. During a nationwide competition in 1947-48, architect Eero Saarinen's inspired design for a 630-foot stainless steel arch was chosen as a perfect monument to the spirit of the western pioneers. Construction of the Arch began in 1963 and was completed on October 28, 1965.
  • The Arch has foundations sunken 60 feet into the ground, and is built to withstand earthquakes and high winds. It sways up to one inch in a 20 mph wind, and is built to sway up to 18 inches.
  • Saint Louis University received a formal charter from the state of Missouri in 1832, making it the oldest University west of the Mississippi.
  • In 1889, Aunt Jemima pancake flour, invented at St. Joseph, Missouri, was the first self-rising flour for pancakes and the first ready-mix food ever to be introduced commercially.
  • The tallest man in documented medical history was Robert Pershing Wadlow from St. Louis. He was 8 feet, 11.1 inches tall
  • Creve Coeur's name means broken heart in French, comes from nearby Creve Coeur Lake. Legend has it that an Indian princess fell in love with a French fur trapper, but the love was not returned. According to the story, she then leapt from a ledge overlooking Creve Coeur Lake; the lake then formed itself into a broken heart.
  • The most powerful earthquake to strike the United States occurred in 1811, centered in New Madrid, Missouri. The quake shook more than one million square miles, and was felt as far as 1,000 miles away.
  • Anheuser-Busch brewery in St. Louis, Missouri is the largest beer producing plant in the nation.
  • During Abraham Lincoln's campaign for the presidency, a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat named Valentine Tapley from Pike County, Missouri, swore that he would never shave again if Abe were elected. Tapley kept his word and his chin whiskers went unshorn from November 1860 until he died in 1910, attaining a length of twelve feet six inches.
  • President Harry S. Truman was born in Lamar, May 8, 1884.
  • The first train of the Atlantic-Pacific Railway, which became the St.Louis-San Francisco Railway, or "Frisco," arrived in 1870.
  • Callaway County was organized on November 25, 1820 and named for Captain James Callaway who was killed in a fight with Indians near Loutre Creek.
  • Missouri was named after a tribe called Missouri Indians; meaning "town of the large canoes"
  • Situated within a day’s drive of 50% of the U.S. population, Branson and the Tri-Lakes area serves up to 65,000 visitors daily. Branson has been a "rubber tire" destination with the vast majority of tourists arriving by vehicles, RVs and tour buses. Branson has also become one of America’s top motor coach vacation destinations with an estimated 4,000 buses arriving each year.
  • Charleston holds the Dogwood-Azalea Festival annually on the 3rd weekend of April. "Charleston becomes a blooming wonderland."
  • Jefferson City, Missouri, the state's capital, was named for Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States.
  • Missouri's oldest community, Saint Genevieve, was founded as early as 1735.
  • In 1812 Missouri was organized as a territory and later admitted the 24th state of the Union on August 10, 1821.
  • In 1865 Missouri became the first slave state to free its slaves.
  • Hermann, Missouri is a storybook German village with a rich wine-making and riverboat history that is proudly displayed in area museums. Built in 1836 as the "New Fatherland" for German settlers, the town has achieved national recognition because of its quality wines and distinctive heritage.
  • Auguste Chouteau founded Saint Louis in 1764.
  • Laura Elizabeth Ingalls, writer of Little House on the Prairie grew up in Missouri.
  • "Madonna of the Trail" monument in Lexington tells the story of the brave women who helped conquer the west and is one of 12 placed in every state crossed by the National Old Trails Road, the route of early settlers from Maryland to California.
  • Soybeans bring in the most cash for Missourians as a crop.
  • Missouri Day is the third Wednesday in October.
  • On Sucker Day in Nixa, Missouri, school closes officially and the little town swells to a throng of 15,000 hungry folks. All craving a taste of the much maligned but delicious bottom dweller fish loathed by almost everyone else.
  • Point of highest elevation: Taum Sauk Mountain, 540 meters (1,772 feet)
  • State folk dance: square dance
  • State musical instrument: fiddle

External links

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Missouri United States MO US