Missouri is a state in the Midwestern region of the United States bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. Missouri is the 18th most populous state.
It comprises 114 counties and one independent city. Missouri’s capital is Jefferson City.
The four largest urban areas are, in descending order, St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, and Columbia.
Missouri was originally purchased from France as part of the Louisiana Purchase and part of the Missouri Territory was admitted into the union as the 24th state in 1821.
Missouri mirrors the demographic, economic and political makeup of the nation as a mixture of urban and rural culture. It has long been considered a political bellwether state.
It is a state with both Midwestern and Southern cultural influences, reflecting its history as a border state.
It is also a blend between the eastern and western United States, as St. Louis is often called the “western-most eastern city” and Kansas City the “eastern-most western city.” Missouri’s geography is highly varied.
The northern part of the state lies in dissected till plains while the southern part lies in the Ozark Mountains, with the Missouri River dividing the two. The confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers is located near St. Louis.
The state is named after the Missouri River which in turn is named after the Siouan Indian tribe whose Illinois name, ouemessourita (wimihsoorita), means “those who have dugout canoes”.
The etymology lies behind Bob Dyer’s tribute, “River of the Big Canoes.”
The pronunciation of the final syllable of “Missouri” is a matter of controversy, with significant numbers insisting on a relatively tense vowel (as in “meet”) or lax (“mitt” or “mutt”).
The most thorough study of the question was done by dialectologist Donald Max Lance.
From a linguistic point of view, there is no correct pronunciation, but rather, there are simply patterns of variation, diachronic as well as synchronic, according to such divisions as geography, age, education, and/or rural vs. urban location.
Missouri’s borders physically touch a total of eight different states, as does its neighbor, Tennessee. No state in the U.S. touches more than eight states.
Missouri is bounded on the north by Iowa; on the east, across the Mississippi River, by Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee; on the south by Arkansas; and on the west by Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska (the latter across the Missouri River.)
The two largest Missouri rivers are the Mississippi, which defines the eastern boundary of the state, and the Missouri, that flows west to east through the state, connecting the two largest cities, Kansas City and St. Louis.
Although today the state is usually considered part of the Midwest, historically Missouri was sometimes considered a Southern state, chiefly because of the settlement of migrants from the South and its status as a slave state before the Civil War.
The counties that made up “Little Dixie” were those along the Missouri River in the center of the state, settled by Southern migrants who held the greatest concentration of slaves.
Residents of cities farther north and the state’s large metropolitan areas, including those where most of the state’s population resides (Kansas City, St. Louis, Columbia), typically consider themselves Midwestern.
In rural areas and cities farther south, such as (Cape Girardeau, Poplar Bluff, Springfield, and Sikeston), people typically consider themselves more Southern.
Missouri generally has a humid continental climate (Koppen climate classification Dfa), with cold winters and hot and humid summers.
In the southern part of the state, particularly in the Bootheel, the climate borders on a humid subtropical climate (Koppen Cfa).
Due to its location in the interior United States, Missouri often experiences extremes in temperatures.
Not having either large mountains or oceans nearby to moderate its temperature, its climate is alternately influenced by air from the cold Arctic and the hot and humid Gulf of Mexico.
Originally part of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, Missouri was admitted as a slave state in 1821 as part of the Missouri Compromise. It earned the nickname “Gateway to the West” because it served as a departure point for settlers heading to the west.
It was the starting point and the return destination of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
River traffic and trade along the Mississippi was integral to the state’s economy. To try to control flooding, by 1860 the state had completed construction of 140 miles of levees on the Mississippi.
Originally the state’s western border was a straight line, defined as the meridian passing through the Kawsmouth, the point where the Kansas River enters the Missouri River. The river has moved since this designation. This line is known as the Osage Boundary.
In 1835 the Platte Purchase was added to the northwest corner of the state after purchasing the land from the native tribes, making the Missouri River the border north of the Kansas River.
This addition made what was already the largest state in the Union at the time (about 66,500 square miles to Virginia’s 65,000 square miles (which included West Virginia at the time) even larger.
As many of the early settlers in western Missouri migrated from southern states, they brought along enslaved African Americans and a desire to continue the institution of slavery. In the early 1830s, Mormon migrants from northern states and Canada began settling near Independence and areas just north of there. Conflicts over slavery and religion arose between the ‘old settlers’ (mainly from the south) and the Mormons (mainly from the north and Canada).
The ‘Mormon War’ erupted.
By 1839 settlers expelled the Mormons from Missouri.
Conflicts over slavery exacerbated border tensions among the states and territories. In 1838-1839 a border dispute with Iowa over the so-called Honey Lands resulted in both states calling up militias along the border.
After many incidents with Kansans crossing the Western border for attacks (including setting a fire in the historic Westport area of Kansas City), a border war erupted between Missouri and Kansas.
From the 1830s to the 1860s, Missouri’s population almost doubled with every decade. Most of the newcomers were Americans, but many Irish and German immigrants arrived in the late 1840s and 1850s. Having fled famine, oppression and revolutionary upheaval, they were not sympathetic to slavery.
Most Missouri farmers practiced subsistence farming. The majority of those who held slaves had fewer than 5 each. Planters, defined by historians as those holding 20 or more slaves, were concentrated in the counties known as “Little Dixie”, in the central part of the state along the Missouri River.
The tensions over slavery had to do with the future of the state and nation. In 1860 enslaved African Americans made up less than 10% of the state’s population of 1,182,012.
After the secession of Southern states began, the Missouri legislature called for the election of a special convention on secession.
The convention voted decisively to remain within the Union. Pro-Southern Governor Claiborne F. Jackson ordered the mobilization of several hundred members of the state militia who had gathered in a camp in St. Louis for training.
Alarmed at this action, Union General Nathaniel Lyon struck first, encircling the peaceful camp and forcing the state troops to surrender. Lyon then directed his soldiers, largely non-English-speaking German immigrants, to march the prisoners through the streets, and opened fire on the largely hostile crowds of civilians who gathered around them.
Soldiers killed unarmed prisoners as well as men, women and children of St. Louis in the incident that became known as the “St. Louis Massacre.”
These events heightened Confederate support within the state. Governor Jackson appointed Sterling Price, president of the convention on secession, as head of the new Missouri State Guard.
In the face of General Lyon’s rapid advance in the state, Jackson and Price were forced to flee the capital of Jefferson City on June 14, 1861. In the town of Neosho, Missouri, Jackson called the state legislature into session. They enacted a secession ordinance, recognized by the Confederacy on October 30, 1861.
With the elected governor absent from his capital and the legislators largely dispersed, Union forces installed an unelected pro-Union provisional government with Hamilton Gamble as provisional governor.
President Lincoln’s Administration immediately recognized Gamble’s government as the legal government. This decision provided both pro-Union militia forces for service within the state and volunteer regiments for the Union Army.
Fighting ensued between Union forces and a combined army of General Price’s Missouri State Guard and Confederate troops from Arkansas and Texas under General Ben McCulloch.
After winning victories at the battle of Wilson’s Creek and the siege of Lexington, Missouri and suffering losses elsewhere, the Confederate forces had little choice but to retreat to Arkansas and later Marshall, Texas, in the face of a largely reinforced Union Army.
Though regular Confederate troops staged some large-scale raids into Missouri, the fighting in the state for the next three years consisted chiefly of guerrilla warfare. “Citizen soldiers” such as Colonel William Quantrill, Frank and Jesse James, the Younger brothers, and William T. Anderson made use of quick, small unit tactics.
Pioneered by the Missouri Partisan Rangers, such insurgencies also arose in other portions of the Confederacy occupied during the Civil War. Recently historians have assessed the James brothers’ outlaw years as continuing guerrilla warfare after the official war was over.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that Missouri’s total state product in 2006 was $225.9 billion.
Per capita personal income in 2006 was $32,707, ranking 26th in the nation.
Major industries include aerospace, transportation equipment, food processing, chemicals, printing/publishing, electrical equipment, light manufacturing, and beer.
The agriculture products of the state are beef, soybeans, pork, dairy products, hay, corn, poultry, sorghum, and eggs. Missouri is ranked 6th in the nation for the production of hogs and 7th for cattle. Missouri is ranked in the top five states in the nation for production of soy beans.
As of 2001, there were 108,000 farms, the second largest number in any state after Texas. Missouri actively promotes its rapidly growing wine industry.
Missouri has vast quantities of limestone. Other resources mined are lead, coal, Portland cement, and crushed stone. Missouri produces the most lead of all of the states.
Most of the lead mines are in the central eastern portion of the state. Missouri also ranks first or near first in the production of lime.
Tourism, services and wholesale/retail trade follow manufacturing in importance.
Personal income is taxed in 10 different earning brackets, ranging from 1.5 percent to 6.0 percent.
Missouri’s sales tax rate for most items is 4.225 percent. Additional local levies may apply.
More than 2,500 Missouri local governments rely on property taxes levied on real property (real estate) and personal property. Most personal property is exempt, except for motorized vehicles.
Exempt real estate includes property owned by governments and property used as nonprofit cemeteries, exclusively for religious worship, for schools and colleges and for purely charitable purposes.
There is no inheritance tax and limited Missouri estate tax related to federal estate tax collection.
Missouri is the only state in the Union to have two Federal Reserve Banks: one in Kansas City (serving western Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Colorado, northern New Mexico, and Wyoming) and St. Louis (serving eastern Missouri, southern Illinois, southern Indiana, western Kentucky, western Tennessee, northern Mississippi, and all of Arkansas).