state of the United States of America

Missouri is a state in the Midwestern region of the United States. Ranking 21st in land area, it is bordered by eight states (tied for the most with Tennessee): Iowa to the north, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee to the east, Arkansas to the south and Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska to the west. In the south are the Ozarks, a forested highland, providing timber, minerals, and recreation. The Missouri River, after which the state is named, flows through the center into the Mississippi River, which makes up the eastern border. With more than six million residents, it is the 19th-most populous state of the country. The largest urban areas are St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield and Columbia; the capital is Jefferson City.

Flag of Missouri

Missouri played a central role in the westward expansion of the United States, as memorialized by the Gateway Arch. The Pony Express, Oregon Trail, Santa Fe Trail and California Trail all began in Missouri. As a border state, Missouri's role in the American Civil War was complex, and it was subject to rival governments, raids, and guerilla warfare. After the war, both Greater St. Louis and the Kansas City metropolitan area became centers of industrialization and business. Today the state is divided into 114 counties and the independent city of St. Louis.


  • Some people think that St. Louis is in the South. It's not, it's in the Midwest, but Missouri was a slave state. The legacies of slavery and de jure segregation affect every aspect of society here.
    • Cori Bush The Forerunner: A Story of Pain and Perseverance in America (2022)
  • The issue of slavery was soon to trouble the relations of the North and South. In 1819 a Bill was tabled in Congress to admit Missouri as a state to the Union. This territory lay inside the bounds of the Louisiana Purchase, where the future of slavery had not so far been decided by Federal law. As the people of Missouri proposed to allow slavery in their draft constitution the Northerners looked upon this Bill as an aggressive move to increase the voting power of the South. A wild campaign of mutual recrimination followed. But with the increasing problem of the West facing them both, North and South could not afford to quarrel, and the angry sectional strife stirred up by this Bill ended in a compromise which was to hold until the middle of the century. Missouri was admitted as a slave-holding state, and slavery was prohibited north of latitude 36° 30' within the existing territories of the Union which did not yet enjoy statehood. As part of the compromise Maine, which had just severed itself from Massachusetts, was admitted as a free state, making the division between slave and free equal, being twelve each. Far-seeing men realised the impending tragedy of this division. John Quincy Adams noted in his diary, “I considered it at once as the knell of the Union. I take it for granted that the present question is a mere preamble — a title-page to a great, tragic volume.”
    • Winston Churchill, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Volume IV: The Great Democracies (1958), pp. 105-106
  • Missouri is called "The Show-Me State," because that was the winner of the Dumbest State Nickname Contest, narrowly edging out "The Nanny Nanny Boo Boo State." The largest city is St. Louis, which features a 630-foot-tall stainless-steel arch, a monument to the early pioneers who came west with nothing but their wagons, their guns, their dreams, and their 630-foot-tall stainless-steel arches. Visitors may ride to the top of the arch, high above the Missouri River, where they will experience the thrill of wanting really badly to get back down on the ground. At least that was how we felt. You'll also want to go to visit Hannibal, the boyhood home of Samuel Clemens, who grew up, adopted a pen name, and became one of Missouri's, and America's, most beloved characters: Harry Truman. Missouri is also dynamic.
    • Dave Barry, Dave Barry's Only Travel Guide You'll Ever Need (1991), New York: Fawcett Columbine, p. 85
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