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History >> US Geography >> US State History

Missouri

State History

The land of Missouri has been inhabited by people for thousands of years. One of the most prominent early cultures was the Mississippian Culture. These people lived in the region from around 500 AD to 1500 AD. They are sometimes called the Mound Builders because they built lots of large earthen mounds that can still be seen in Missouri today.


The Gateway Arch in St. Louis
The Gateway Arch from the National Park Service

Native Americans

Before the Europeans arrived, Missouri was inhabited by Native American tribes. The three major tribes were the Osagein the southwest, the Missouri in the northwest, and the Illini in the east. These tribes farmed crops such as corn, beans, and squash for food. They also hunted game including deer, buffalo, and beavers. They had large earthen lodges for their permanent homes and used tepees when they traveled on hunting trips.

Europeans Arrive

Europeans arrived in Missouri in the late 1600s. In 1673, French explorers Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet entered Missouri traveling along the Missouri River. It was Father Marquette who first used the name "Missouri" when mapping out the region. A few years later, in 1682, another French explorer named Robert de La Salle arrived and claimed Missouri for France as part of the Louisiana Territory.

Early Settlers

In the early 1700s, French fur traders and missionaries began to move into Missouri. Small missions and settlements were built including Fort Orleans which was built on the banks of the Missouri River in 1724. In 1764, the city of St. Louis was established by French merchant Pierre Laclede. Control of the Louisiana Territory changed hands to the Spanish in 1762 and then back to the French in 1800.

Louisiana Purchase

In 1803, the United States gained control of Missouri as part of the Louisiana Purchase from France. Since Missouri was on the western border of the United States at the time, it was considered the start of the new frontier. Explorers Lewis and Clark began their expedition to the west in Missouri near the city of St. Louis traveling up the Missouri River.


The Missouri River
The Missouri River by Sara Minor, USDA

Becoming a State

Missouri was a part of the Louisiana Territory until 1812 when the Missouri Territory was established. By 1817, Missouri was requesting to enter the Union and become a state. However, many northern members of congress voted against Missouri's entrance because they allowed slavery. Congress finally came to an agreement called the Missouri compromise. They would allow Missouri to join the country as a slave slate, but at the same time they would also admit Maine as a free state. On August 10, 1821, Missouri was admitted as the 24th state.

Gateway to the West

In the mid-1800s, Missouri became known as the "Gateway to the West." Many settlers would start out here on their way to California, Oregon, and other areas out west. This was one of the last places where wagon trains could stop for supplies before beginning their long trip. Both the Santa Fe Trail and the Oregon Trail began in Missouri.

Civil War

When the Civil War began in 1861 Missouri decided to stay with the Union even though it was a slave state. However, many people in the state wanted to secede and join the Confederacy. The two sides fought each other throughout the war, but the pro-Union side maintained control. Before the war ended, Missouri adopted a new law that abolished slavery in the state.


President Harry S. Truman was born in Missouri
Harry S. Truman by Edmonston Studio

Timeline More US State History:

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Mississippi
Missouri
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Ohio
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Tennessee
Texas
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Works Cited

History >> US Geography >> US State History





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