Missouri State History

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General State History
Historic Figures

General Missouri State History

Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet, who descended the Mississippi from the North in 1673, supplied the first written accounts of exploration in Missouri. The early Indians in Missouri were the Osages, Sacs, Foxes, Otos, Iowas, Missouris, Miamis, Kickapoos, Delawares, Shawnees and Kansas. Although named for an Indian tribe, today there are no organized tribes left in Missouri.

As part of the Louisiana Purchase territory, Missouri has belonged to three nations: France, Spain and the United States. First claimed for France by LaSalle in 1682, Missouri was ceded to Spain in 1762. Although Spain held the country for 40 years, its in influence was slight.

The early development of Missouri was closely associated with lead mining. Galena, a lead ore, was first discovered in 1701 near Potosi and began to be mined in earnest in 1720 upon the discovery of significant deposits at Mine La Motte. Mining, the earliest commercial activity in Missouri, lured early French settlers and continues to be a major enterprise today.

It was the French who were responsible for the first permanent settlement of Ste. Genevieve in the mid-1730s. This settlement alone in the huge Upper Louisiana Territory until the establishment of St. Louis as a fur trading post in 1764. Because of its excellent location where the Missouri River flows into the Mississippi, St. Louis became the largest settlement in the state and today is one of the nation's larger cities.

By secret treaty in 1802, Spain ceded the Louisiana Territory back to France. Napoleon Bonaparte, anxious to rid himself of the vast and troublesome frontier, sold it to the United States in 1803 for a total of $15,000,000. About this time President Jefferson organized the Lewis and Clark Expedition which was the first extensive exploration of the northwestern part of the new territory. The expedition left St. Louis in 1804. Missouri was organized as a territory in 1812 and was admitted to the Union as the 24th state on August 10, 1821. Missouri was the second state (after Louisiana) of the Louisiana Purchase to be admitted to the Union.

In 1820, the Missouri Compromise was passed whereby Missouri was to be admitted as a slave state and Maine as a free state. Although admitted as a slave state, Missouri nevertheless remained with the Union throughout the Civil War.

At the beginning of the Civil War, most Missourians wanted only to preserve the peace. However, the state governor, Claiborne Fox Jackson, was strongly pro-southern and attempted to align Missouri with the Confederacy. He and most of the legislature were forced to flee to southern Missouri where they actually passed an ordinance of secession. However, this government was no longer recognized by most Missourians.

The most important and bloodiest battle fought in Missouri was the Battle of Wilson's Creek near Springfield. Other important battles in Missouri were fought at Carthage, Lexington, Westport and Boonville - the first engagement within the state. Missouri contributed 109,000 men to the northern cause while sending at least 30,000 men into the Confederate ranks.

During World War I, Missouri provided 140,257 soldiers, one-third being volunteers. Missouri contributed such notable leaders as Gen. John J. Pershing of laclede, commander of the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe, and Provost Marshall Enoch H. Crowser of Grundy County who drew up the Selective Service Act.

During World War II, Missouri contributed a total of over 450,000 men and women to the various armed forces. Eighty-nine top officers were from Missouri including Gen. Omar N. Bradley of Clark and Moberly and Lt. Gen. James H. Doolittle of St. Louis.

The nation's leader during the last year of the war was Lamar-born Harry S Truman, first Missourian to become President of the United States. After assuming office upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945, President Truman was re-elected to a full four-year term. His was the fateful decision to use the atom bomb and hasten the Japanese surrender consummated on the deck of the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

Missourians later served in the Korean and Vietnam wars and Dr. Thomas A. Dooley and Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor emerged as noted figures. Like the rest of the country, Missouri has moved toward the 21st century with modernized technology, nuclear energy, transportation, education; progress in civil rights and women's rights; and shifts in the economy and business outlook.
Missouri Historic Figures

Harry S Truman
1884-1972: 33rd President of the U.S. and one of Missouri's most famous native sons. Born in Lamar in 1884, Truman was a Jackson County judge, U.S. Senator and Vice-President before serving as President, 1945-1953. Truman is best remembered as "the man from Independence." his boyhood homes, the summer White House, his first courtroom, the Truman Library and Museum, and his gravesite all can be seen in the Independence area.


Samuel Clemens
1835-1910: Growing up in Hannibal, watching riverboats on the Mississippi. It was from riverboat jargon that he took his pen name - Mark Twain. his love for the river and for his Missouri boyhood is best reflected in his stories about Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. The Twain Home and a statue of Tom and Huck can be seen in Hannibal today..In nearby Florida, Mo., Twain's birthplace is preserved as a state historic site.


George Washington Carver
1861-1943: Born a slave near Diamond, Mo., overcame tremendous obstacles to become one of America's greatest scientists. he is best remembered for his practical research, helping farmers make a better living from marginal soil. Visitors to the George Washington Carver National Monument near Diamond can see his birthplace cabin site, a statue of Carver as a boy, the Moses Carver house and rock-walled family cemetery.


John J Pershing
1860-1948: Born in 1860 near Laclede, Mo., became one of America's most distinguished military leaders. His long career included graduation from West Point, service in the Spanish-American War and in the campaign against Mexican bandit pancho Villa. in World War I, he commanded the American forces in Europe. Pershing's boyhood home in Laclede is now a state historic site, restored with period furnishings.


Daniel Boone
1734-1820: Truly a legend in his own time. He was a pioneer, scout, Indian fighter and, in later years, a Missourian. Boone came to Missouri in 1799 as governor of the Spanish-ruled Missouri territory. From the home in Defiance which he built with his son Nathan, Daniel served as a judge. He explored much of the state and is remembered at places such as Boonville, Boone Cave and Boone's Lick. The stone home at Defiance where Boone died in 1820 has been restored and is open today.