Missouri is nicknamed the Show Me State

November 29, 2012 4:53 pm

Missouri is nicknamed the Show Me State. In 1899, a Missouri congressman said, “I’m from Missouri. You’ve got to show me.” He meant that fancy words didn’t impress him. He and other Missourians wanted to see what people could do. They valued straight talk and common sense.
Facts About Missouri
Jefferson City
5,880,000 people
Rank among states in population
Major cities
Kansas City, St. Louis, Springfield
69,700 square miles
181,000 square kilometers
Rank among states in area
August 10, 1821, the 24th state
State nickname
The Show Me State
Name for residents
State bird
State flower
White Hawthorn Blossom
State tree
Flowering Dogwood
Missouri prides itself on its Show-Me nickname. Mark Twain, Missouri’s most famous citizen and one of America’s greatest writers, shared this dislike of fancy talk and false appearances. Twain described his adventures growing up in Missouri in several of his books, including The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In this book, two runaways—the boy Huck Finn and the black slave Jim—develop a friendship as they float to freedom on a raft down the Mississippi River.
In many ways, Mark Twain and his characters were the first “show me” Missourians. Huck and Jim didn’t like a lot of nonsense. They judged people by what they did, not what they said or how they said it. You can visit Mark Twain’s boyhood home in Hannibal, Missouri.
Missouri got to be important because of its location on two rivers. The state takes its name from the Missouri River. The Mississippi forms Missouri’s eastern Border.
Why were these rivers so important? Before there were cars, trains, and planes, people traveled by river. St. Louis, Missouri, became the gateway to the west because of its location. The Missouri River meets the Mississippi just north of St. Louis. That’s why Lewis and Clark began their expedition here.
Explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark set out from Missouri in 1804 to explore the American West. They planned to follow the Missouri River. The explorers weren’t sure where the river would lead them. Nobody had made a map of this region.
The land Lewis and Clark explored was called the Louisiana Territory. President Thomas Jefferson bought it from France in 1803. French explorers named the lands they claimed Louisiana after their king, Louis XIV. Many of the Western states were carved out of the Louisiana Territory.
The tallest structure in St. Louis is the Gateway Arch. It is as tall as a 62-story building. You can take a small train to the top. The Gateway Arch honors the pioneers who made possible the westward expansion of the .
Pioneers reached St. Louis on the Mississippi. They came from the East on rivers that fed into the Mississippi. They stocked up in St. Louis on all the supplies they needed for a journey of five or six months. From St. Louis, they followed the Missouri River and the Oregon Trail west. Covered wagons carried their goods. The pioneers walked most of the way.
In 1821, Missouri became the first state west of the Mississippi to enter the Union. But it nearly divided the United States over the issue of slavery. This was 40 years before the Civil War began.
Missouri wanted to be a slave-holding state. Many of its settlers had come from the South. Wealthy planters had brought African Americans with them to work the land as slaves. Northern states wanted to stop the spread of slavery. They wanted Missouri to be a free state—a state in which slavery was not allowed.
Senate sessions debating the issue were stormy. Tempers ran high. The Missouri Compromise let Missouri be a slave state. But it limited future slave states. No land north of Missouri’s southern border could enter the union as a slave state.
Missouri became the 24th state on August 10, 1821. Jefferson City became the state capital. Jefferson City is located in central Missouri, on the Missouri River. It is named after Thomas Jefferson.
Missouri’s largest city is Kansas City. Why is it named after another state? Kansas City is located where the Kansas River runs into the Missouri River, on the western border of Missouri. Across the Missouri River, Kansas has its own Kansas City.
Kansas City, Missouri, is located near the geographic center of the United States. It lies midway between the east and west coasts. It lies halfway between the country’s northern and southern borders.
The population center of the United States is also in Missouri, near the town of Edgar Springs. Just as many Americans live east of this town as live west of it. Just as many Americans live to its north as to its south. Missouri is truly the heart of America.
In 1904, St. Louis held a World’s Fair. The fair celebrated the Louisiana Purchase, 101 years earlier. One day, an ice cream vendor ran out of dishes. He borrowed waffles from a nearby stand, rolled the waffles up, and popped ice cream in them. The ice cream cone became an instant hit.
Have you ever visited an underground cave? You can see unusual and colorful limestone formations in the Meramec Caverns and other underground caves in Missouri. Limestone towers drip from the ceilings and rise from the floors of these caves.
You can have lots of fun in scenic southern Missouri. The Ozark Mountains are here. This is a good place for canoeing or rafting down a river.
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