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Way down in Missouri where I heard this melody,
When I was a little child on my mommy's knee;
The old folks were hummin', their banjos were strummin'
So sweet and low.

Missouri State Song

Courtesy of nationalatlas.gov

The Missouri Compromise, a United States Government plan that temporarily maintained an equal number of free and slave states after the Louisiana Purchase, allowed Missouri to enter the Union as a slave state in 1821. After the Louisiana Purchase, Missouri was the frontier of the United States. Pony Express riders carried mail 1,966 miles from St. Joseph, a city in Missouri, to California.

St. Louis is also the home of the Gateway Arch. You can ride a train to the top of the arch, which is the country's tallest monument at 630 feet. The arch was envisioned as a "Gateway to the West," and was the beginning of an urban renewal project. It was built as a part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, a national salute to the Louisiana Purchase. With the Louisiana Purchase, the United States paid about $15 million to France for 827,987 square miles of land between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains. Missouri was one of 13 states created from the land purchased.


Missouri was named after the Missouri River, the longest river in the United States. Missouri is an Algonquin Indian word meaning "river of the big canoes." The state's most famous nickname is the "Show Me State." The name probably comes from a speech given in 1899 in Philadelphia by Missouri Congressman Willard D. Vandiver, in which he said, "I come from a country that raises corn, cotton, cockleburs, and Democrats. I'm from Missouri, and you've got to show me." Missouri residents have a reputation for being skeptical. The state's other nicknames include the "Center State," the "Gateway to the West," "Mother of the West," and the "Ozark State." The abbreviation for Missouri is MO.

Courtesy of nationalatlas.govMissouri is a West North Central state bordered by Iowa to the north, Illinois to the east, Arkansas to the south, and Kansas to the west. The state is located near the geographic center of the United States at the junction of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, the two longest rivers in the country. The Missouri River flows through the center of the state and the Mississippi River forms the state's eastern border.

Because of its central location at the junction of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, Missouri is a major transportation crossroads. The state is a center of water, land, and air transportation. Kansas City, Missouri's largest city, and St. Louis, the state's second largest city, are leading air travel, train, and trucking centers.


Missouri is one of the country's chief agricultural states and the most important manufacturing state in the Midwest. The state is a chief producer of beef, cattle, corn, hogs, and soybeans. Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas, separated by the state line, make up a major grain and livestock market. Soybeans and cotton are grown on the floodplains of the Mississippi River. Lumber is supplied from the forests of the Ozark Mountains. Cattle raising dominates the western part of the state and manufacturing is the biggest activity in the east. These products are shipped all over the country on the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.

More than two-thirds of Missouri's residents live in cities and more than a quarter of those people live in St. Louis and Kansas City, the eastern and western border cities. Most of the state's workers are employed in service industries, including government, health care, and retail trade. Missouri's factories produce a large number of airplanes and cars.

If you like country music, Missouri could be the state for you. Millions of country music fans visit Branson to listen to their favorite artists. Other people go to the Ozark Mountains, a scenic region and one of the major recreation areas in the Midwest. Jefferson City, named for Thomas Jefferson, is the state's capital. See the murals of Thomas Hart Benton, a famous American painter, in the State Capitol Building.

Courtesy of the Library of CongressMany famous people have lived in Missouri. Mark Twain, a major American author who grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, used his childhood memories as material for his novel, "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer."

Joseph Pulitzer, the newspaper publisher who founded the "St.Louis Dispatch," started his career as a reporter in St. Louis. Pulitzer established the Pulitzer Prizes for distinguished achievement in journalism, literature, drama, and music. Walt Disney, George Washington Carver, General John J. Pershing, and Harry S. Truman also lived in the state. Visit the Harry Truman Library in Independence, the town where the former President grew up.



State Flag

Capital...Jefferson City
Largest City...Kansas City
Statehood...1821 (24th)
Area...ranked 21st
Motto...Let the good of the people be the supreme law
Nickname...The Show Me State

State Seal