Explore the Fascinating History of Missouri

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The History of Missouri

Journey Through Missouri Trivia

Welcome to our Missouri history and trivia page, brought to you by History By Mail. Get ready to delve into the captivating past and vibrant culture of the Show-Me State. From the Gateway Arch to the scenic Ozark Mountains, we'll uncover intriguing stories and challenge your knowledge with exciting quizzes. Let's embark on our journey through Missouri's history and trivia together.

Facts about Missouri

State Name: Missouri

State Abbreviation: MO

Capital: Jefferson City

Name Origin: Missouri derives its name from the Missouri Native American tribe, originating from the term "ouemessourita," which can be roughly translated as "wooden canoe people" or "those who have dugout canoes."

Nickname: The Show Me State

Statehood: August 10, 1821 (24th)

State Motto: Salus populi suprema lex esto (The welfare of the people shall be the supreme law)

Missouri's Flag

The Missouri state flag was officially adopted in 1913 and showcases the state's coat of arms on a field of three horizontal stripes: red, white, and blue. The coat of arms represents Missouri's diverse history and includes symbols of its French heritage, the United States, and the state's agricultural and industrial resources. The flag was designed by Marie Elizabeth Watkins Oliver and was inspired by the Missouri State Seal. It serves as a proud symbol of Missouri's identity and was first raised on the state capitol grounds in Jefferson City in 1913.

Missouri's Great Seal

Missouri's State Seal, designed by Thomas Fletcher, was officially adopted in 1822 and holds significant historical importance. Fletcher, Missouri's first governor, based the design on the seal of the United States. The State Seal showcases the Coat of Arms of the State of Missouri, which features a grizzly bear representing strength and courage, a crescent symbolizing growth, and a star representing Missouri's admission to the Union as the 24th state. The seal is protected by state law to ensure its proper usage and representation.

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History of Missouri

Human presence in the region now known as Missouri may date back as far as 20,000 years. Centuries later, various Native American tribes, including the Chickasaw, Illini, Missouri, and Osage, inhabited the land.

In 1682, France laid claim to a vast expanse of land called the Louisiana Territory, encompassing the area that would eventually become Missouri. However, Spain assumed control of the territory eighty years later. This Spanish rule was short-lived as the territory was returned to France in 1800. In 1803, the United States purchased the land through the Louisiana Purchase Treaty. The following year, explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark embarked on their expedition from the city of St. Louis to explore and map the vast territory. In 1821, Missouri achieved statehood.

Missouri became the site of a historic legal case in 1846 when Dred Scott, an enslaved individual, filed a lawsuit seeking his freedom. Unfortunately, he lost the case in 1857. This event played a significant role in the lead-up to the Civil War, a conflict fought between states that aimed to abolish slavery and those that sought to maintain its legality.

During the Civil War, which commenced in 1861, slavery remained legal in Missouri, but the state did not secede from the Union like other slaveholding states did.

State Symbols

State Bird


Channel catfish are gray to olive, with pale undersides, and have eight 'whiskers' or sensory barbels around their mouths. - History By Mail
State Fish

Channel Catfish

State Flower


Individual columnals were rounded, oval, square, five-sided, or star-shaped, and some plates were decorated with petal-like designs. - History By Mail
State Fossil


State Reptile

Three-toed Box Turtle

The bark on mature trees is broken into small square blocks that give the stem an “alligator” appearance. - History By Mail
State Tree

Flowering Dogwood

Fun Facts

  • Gateway Arch: Missouri is home to the iconic Gateway Arch, located in St. Louis. Standing at 630 feet (192 meters) tall, it is the tallest man-made monument in the United States and serves as a symbol of westward expansion.
  • Mark Twain: Missouri is renowned as the birthplace of the acclaimed author Mark Twain. Twain, whose real name was Samuel Clemens, grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, which provided inspiration for his beloved literary works such as "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" and "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."
  • Cave State: Missouri is often referred to as the "Cave State" due to its abundance of caves. With over 6,000 recorded caves, including the famous Marvel Cave at Silver Dollar City, Missouri offers unique opportunities for spelunking and underground exploration.
  • Kansas City Barbecue: Missouri, particularly Kansas City, is famous for its delectable barbecue cuisine. Kansas City-style barbecue is known for its slow-smoked meats, tangy tomato-based sauces, and a wide variety of flavorful dishes that have gained a dedicated following worldwide.
  • Route 66: Missouri holds a special place in the history of the iconic Route 66. The "Main Street of America" passed through the state, connecting St. Louis to Joplin and providing a vital transportation route for travelers during the early 20th century. Today, remnants of the original Route 66 can still be found in Missouri, attracting nostalgic road-trippers and enthusiasts.

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Things To Do in Missouri

  1. Explore the Gateway Arch: Visit the iconic Gateway Arch in St. Louis and take a tram ride to the top for breathtaking views of the city and the Mississippi River.
  2. Discover the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum: Immerse yourself in the world of Mark Twain in Hannibal, Missouri. Tour his boyhood home, explore the museum dedicated to his life and works, and take a scenic riverboat cruise on the Mississippi River.
  3. Enjoy outdoor activities at the Lake of the Ozarks: Relax and have fun at the Lake of the Ozarks, a popular destination for boating, fishing, water sports, and lakeside recreation. You can also find golf courses, hiking trails, and resorts in the area.
  4. Visit the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art: Located in Kansas City, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art houses an impressive collection of artworks spanning various periods and cultures. Explore the museum's diverse exhibits, including paintings, sculptures, and ancient artifacts.
  5. Experience the beauty of the Ozark Mountains: Head to the Ozark Mountains and enjoy the natural beauty of this scenic region. Hike or bike through the trails, go camping, or take a scenic drive to soak in the picturesque landscapes and stunning vistas.
  6. Tour the Anheuser-Busch Brewery: Beer enthusiasts can visit the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in St. Louis for an informative and entertaining brewery tour. Learn about the brewing process, explore the historic facility, and sample some of their famous beers.
  7. Discover the history of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum: Visit Independence, Missouri, and explore the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum. Learn about the life and presidency of the 33rd U.S. President and gain insights into significant historical events.
  8. Enjoy live entertainment in Branson: Head to Branson, known as the "Live Entertainment Capital of the World," and experience a variety of shows, concerts, and performances. From music to comedy, there's something for everyone in this vibrant entertainment hub.
  9. Explore the City Museum in St. Louis: Let your imagination run wild at the City Museum, an interactive museum in St. Louis that combines art, architecture, and play. Climb through tunnels, slide down slides, and explore the eclectic exhibits in this unique and engaging attraction.
  10. Take a scenic drive on Route 66: Experience a slice of Americana by driving on the historic Route 66 in Missouri. Enjoy the nostalgic charm, visit roadside attractions, and soak in the rich history of this iconic highway.
Comprehensive map of Missouri highlighting cities, roads, and geographical features. - History By Mail

General Map of Missouri

Missouri shares its borders with neighboring states: Iowa to the north; Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee to the east; Arkansas to the south; and Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska to the west. The state's meandering eastern border is primarily defined by the Mississippi River. Geographically, Missouri can be divided into four distinct regions.

Famous People From Missouri

Harry S. Truman

Harry S. Truman, born in Lamar, Missouri on May 8, 1884, served as the 33rd President of the United States from 1945 to 1953.

Mark Twain

Mark Twain, born as Samuel Clemens on November 30, 1835, in Florida, Missouri, was a celebrated author and humorist.

Don Cheadle

Don Cheadle, born on November 29, 1964, in Kansas City, Missouri, is a highly acclaimed actor known for his exceptional range and versatility.

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Missouri's name derives from the indigenous people who inhabited the region before European settlers arrived. The state's name is believed to have originated from the Illinois language, where "missi" means "great" and "ouri" means "river." This refers to the mighty Mississippi River that flows along its eastern border.

Missouri is often referred to as the "Cave State" due to its remarkable underground formations. The state is home to around 6,000 caves, including the famous Meramec Caverns and the Fantastic Caverns, which are accessible by guided tours. These caves boast stunning stalactites, stalagmites, and other formations that have captivated explorers and visitors for generations.

Missouri's unique geographical position as a border state between the North and the South had a profound impact during the American Civil War. While the state officially remained in the Union, it was home to both Confederate sympathizers and Union supporters. This led to internal conflicts, including guerilla warfare and battles, as both sides vied for control. The Battle of Wilson's Creek and the Battle of Pea Ridge are two notable clashes that occurred in Missouri during the war.

The Gateway Arch in St. Louis is an iconic symbol representing the westward expansion of the United States. Completed in 1965, it stands as the centerpiece of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial and commemorates the city's role as the Gateway to the West. The Arch's sleek design and unique form have made it an enduring symbol of American ambition and progress.

Related Resources

Official Website of the State of Missouri: The official website provides information about the state government, services, business resources, and more. Visit: https://www.mo.gov/

Missouri Department of Tourism: Discover attractions, events, outdoor activities, and plan your visit to Missouri. Visit: https://www.visitmo.com/

Missouri Historical Society: Learn about Missouri's history, explore historical sites, and access educational resources. Visit: https://mohistory.org/

Missouri Department of Conservation: Explore Missouri's natural resources, state parks, conservation initiatives, and outdoor activities. Visit: https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/

Gateway Arch National Park: Learn about the iconic Gateway Arch in St. Louis and the history of westward expansion. Visit: https://www.nps.gov/jeff/index.htm

Missouri State Parks: Discover Missouri's state parks, camping sites, hiking trails, and recreational activities. Visit: https://mostateparks.com/