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History >> US Geography >> US 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
from the National Park Service
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Harry S. Truman
by Edmonston Studio
More US State History:
- 500 to 1500 - The Mississippian people build large earthen mounds throughout Missouri.
- 1673 - French explorers Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet enter Missouri.
- 1682 - Robert de La Salle claims the Louisiana Territory for France.
- 1724 - Fort Orleans is constructed.
- 1764 - The city of St. Louis is established.
- 1803 - The United States buys Missouri as part of the Louisiana Purchase.
- 1804 - Lewis and Clark leave St. Louis following the Missouri River on their trip to the Pacific Ocean.
- 1812 - The Missouri Territory is established.
- 1821 - Missouri is admitted to the Union as the 24th state.
- 1821 - The Santa Fe Trail opens from Missouri to New Mexico.
- 1826 - Jefferson City becomes the state capital.
- 1840s - Thousands of settlers take the Oregon Trail from Missouri to the west coast.
- 1857 - The Supreme Court makes the Dred Scott Decision against Missouri slave Dred Scott.
- 1865 - Slavery is abolished in the state prior to the end of the Civil War.
- 1905 - The world's first gas station is built in St. Louis.
- 1945 - Harry S. Truman becomes President of the United States.
- 1965 - Construction on the Gateway Arch in St. Louis is completed.
History >> US Geography >> US State History