History of Missouri
It is estimated that the region of today’s Missouri was inhabited up to 7,000 years before the Europeans first came to the region. The area was also a home to the rather well developed Mississippian culture, also known as Mound Builders. They erected enormous earth mounds that served political or religious purposes, around which their settlements, or often enough real cities, thrived relying on trade and agriculture. One of the centers of their culture was the city of Cahokia, located in the region of today’s Collinsville in Illinois. The same city was an important trading hub that had connections with traders from the area of Gulf of Mexico, as well as with those from the area of Great Lakes. This culture has already dissipated before the coming of the Europeans, but some of their mounds that survived the urbanization are still recognizable.
The first Europeans in the region were French Canadians, who mostly came from the Illinois country during the mid 18th century. They established the first settlement in the region in the area of today’s Ste. Genevieve. Main reason for their decision to come from the eastern banks of the Mississippi River was the fact that they were running out of fertile soil on the other side of the river. Ste. Genevieve was soon transformed into an important agricultural center that was producing enough tobacco, corn and wheat to be able to sell the surplus to merchants in Lower Louisiana.
Not long after, in 1764, French settlers coming from New Orleans established St. Louis. From that point, until 1803, the Spanish held control over the region. The economy of the region at that time relied mostly on agriculture and fur trade with the local tribes. The furs were usually transported to New Orleans on the Mississippi River, from where they were exported to Europe. This industry has transformed St. Louis from a small settlement into a thriving city and a financial center of the region. The fact that it was close to the confluence of the Illinois River gave it access to another important waterway, and the opportunity to play an important role in the trade of agricultural products. The invention of the steamboat only increased the city’s potential.
The 1800 Treaty of San Ildefonso transferred the control over the region to the French, even though the change of ownership of the territory was kept secret until 1803, when the region was sold to the United States under the Louisiana Purchase. Once it became the part of the US, the region became known as the ‘Gateway to the West’. It was a starting point for the expeditions intending to push further to the west. A city to the west of St. Louis, St. Charles, was where the Lewis and Clark expedition started its journey, and also the place in which they eventually ended it.
Most of the settlers that were coming to the region were from the south, and they brought slaves with them. They mostly chose the fertile regions in the vicinity of the Missouri River, where they settled and started plantations. The region came to be known as ‘Little Dixie’. Missouri Compromise of 1821 granted statehood to Missouri. At that time, St. Charles served as the state’s temporary capital, until a permanent capital was established in Jefferson City in 1826.
Mormons tried settling in the region in the 1930s. They mainly came from Canada and the northern parts of the continent, but they were not warmly welcomed by the people living in the region. The main points of contention were their opinions on slavery and their religion. These tensions eventually resulted in the Mormon War of 1838. Just one year later, Mormons were expelled from the region, and their land was confiscated by the original settlers.
The state’s population grew rapidly between the 1830s and 1860s. Most of the new settlers came from other parts of America, but there was also a significant influx of German and Irish immigrants. Seeing that the European settlers were mostly coming to region in order to escape the difficulties that were plaguing their countries, they weren’t supportive of slavery. Most of them were Catholics, so they established their own churches and places of worship.
Even though Missouri was a slave state, the convention that was to decide on the secession voted for the state to remain with the Union. However, citizens were divided on the matter, and a number of groups that supported the Confederacy formed. One such group, led by the Claiborne F. Jackson was training in St. Louis, when it was taken captive by Nathaniel Lyon, a Union General. While the prisoners were marched through the streets of the city, the populace of St. Louis grew restless, and the Union Soldiers started shooting civilians and prisoners alike, in a conflict that will become known as the ‘St. Louis Massacre’. The incident only strengthened the people’s support of the Confederacy, and a number of men from Missouri ended up fighting for Confederacy, despite the fact that the state remained with the Union.
The Economy of Missouri
Missouri’s GSP (gross state product) in 2006 amounted to $225.9 billion. Per capita income in the same year was $32,705, making Missouri the state with the 26th highest per capita income in the nation. The most important state industries are beer production, light manufacturing, electrical equipment, printing and publishing, chemicals, food processing, transportation equipment and aerospace. Biotechnology and science fields are growing more important, with one of the major gene companies, Monsanto, being located in St. Louis. Trade, both retail and wholesale, as well as services and tourism are right behind manufacturing in importance.
Agriculture is also one of the major state industries, with the most significant products being eggs, rice, cotton, sorghum, poultry, corn, hay, dairy products, pork, soybeans and beef. Missouri is the 7th largest cattle producer in the nation, and the 6th largest hog producer. It is also the 5th largest rice producer, and one of the top five soybeans producers. With 108,000 farms, Missouri is second only to Texas when it comes to the number of farms. Wine industry is a growing sector of Missouri’s agricultural industry.
When it comes to natural resources, Missouri is rather rich in crushed stone, coal, lead and limestone. Missouri is the largest lead producer in the nation. Most of lead mining goes on in the central eastern portion of the state. Missouri is also the number one producer of lime.
There are ten brackets of personal income tax in the state, ranging from 6% down to 1.5%. Sales tax in the state amounts to 4.225%, but the rates may vary according to specific local laws. Real property is subject to property taxes, while most of the personal property, except for motor vehicles, is usually exempt from taxation. State’s unemployment rate is 7.3%.
Missouri is the only state with two Federal Reserve Banks – one in St. Louis that serves Arkansas, northern Mississippi, western Tennessee, western Kentucky, southern Indiana, southern Illinois and eastern Missouri, and one in Kansas City that serves Wyoming, northern New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas and western Missouri.
Missouri Geography and Climate
Just like its neighboring state, Tennessee, Missouri is bordering eight other states. There are no states in the Union that are bordering more than eight other states. It has Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma on the west, Arkansas on the south, Tennessee, Kentucky and Illinois across the Mississippi River on the east, and Iowa on the north. Major rivers in the state are the Missouri River which connects the two state’s largest metro areas, St. Louis and Kansas City, and the Mississippi River which forms the state’s eastern border.
Most people believe that Missouri belongs to the Midwest region, but it is also often referred to as a Southern state, mainly because of the large number of original Southern settlers and the fact that before the Civil War it was a slave state. The state’s recreational areas and national parks cover 202,000 acres, which have attracted 16,695,000 visitors in 2005, and earned the state some $7.41 million.
The Northern Plains that stretch into Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa are found on the northern side of the Missouri River. They mostly consist of rolling hills that are a result of glaciation that covered the area between the Missouri River and Canadian Shield. Meramec, Missouri and Mississippi rivers are characterized by large and quite numerous river bluffs. Ozark Mountains rise in the southern part of the state. This is also where the state’s limestone deposits are located. Southeastern Missouri is known as the Bootheel region, it is a section of the Mississippi embayment and the Mississippi Alluvial Plains. It is the wettest, flattest and lowest part of Missouri. This is the most fertile region of the state, but because of the fact that its inhabitants are mostly focused on agriculture, it is also the poorest region of the state.
The state is considered to have a humid continental climate, characterized by humid and hot summers and rather cold winters. Climate in the southern and southeastern parts of the state is probably closer to the humid subtropical climate type. Because of its location in the interior US, the state frequently experiences temperature extremes. Missouri is not close enough to an ocean to be influenced by it, and as it doesn’t have major mountain ranges that would moderate the temperature, the climate in the state is mostly influenced by the air coming from the humid and hot Gulf of Mexico and from the Arctic. The highest state temperature of 118 °F was recorded in 1954 at both Union and Warsaw, while the state’s lowest temperature of −40 °F was recorded in 1905, also at Warsaw. Tornadoes and thunderstorms are not a rarity in Missouri. In 2011, Missouri suffered an EF5 tornado which devastated a third of the city of Joplin, caused between 1 and 3 billion dollars of damage and 159 casualties.
Population of Missouri
In 2011, Missouri had 6,010,688 inhabitants, which presented a 0.36% increase when compared to the previous year. In 2010, the state had a population of 5,988,927 people, which was a 7% or 392,369 people increase since the year 2000. This was a result of 343,199 deaths and 480,763 births which combined into a natural increase of 137,564 residents. This increase was coupled by the net migrations increase of 88,088 people. More than a half of the state’s inhabitants (55% or 3,294,936 people) live in one of the two largest metropolitan areas in the state, Kansas City and St. Louis. Missouri’s population density of 86.9 people per square mile is the closest to the national average of 86.8 people per square mile.
When it comes to ethnicity, 81% of the Missouri’s population are composed of non-Hispanic white people, 1.8% of Hispanic white, 11.6% of African Americans, 0.5% of Native Americans and Alaskan Natives, 1.6% of Asian people, 0.1% of Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders and 2.1% of multiethnic people. The state’s population center is located in the Osage County. Missouri’s Phelps County was the center of the population of the United States in the year 2000.
There are five major ancestry groups in Missouri with 27.4% of people claiming German ancestry, 14.8% Irish, 10.2% English, 8.5% American and 2.7% French. People declaring themselves as having American ancestry are in some cases descendants of African Americans or Native Americans, but also of European families that came to America a long time ago.
In 2004, 12.5% of the state’s inhabitants were 65 years old or older, 25.5% were under 18 and 6.6% were under 5 years old. It was estimated that 51.4% of the population were females. Missouri had 81.3% of the high school graduates, while 21.6% had at least a bachelor’s degree. Some 3.4% of the state’s residents were born somewhere else.
Most of the state’s residents speak English as their first language. Only 5.1% of the people living in Missouri are speaking some other language at home. The second most frequently spoken language in the state is Spanish, and it is being used in Latino communities in Kansas City and St. Louis metro areas.
When it comes to religion in the state, it is estimated that out of religious people, three fifths are Protestant, while somewhere around a fifth are Roman Catholic. The areas with the highest numbers of Catholics are Missouri Rhineland, Westplex, Jefferson City and St. Louis. Kansas City and St. Louis metropolitan areas are also home to large Jewish populations, and to growing Muslim and Hindu congregations.
It is estimated that 77% of the state’s residents belong to a Christian religion, out of which 4% are members of Anglican Church, 19% are Roman Catholics, 1% Latter Day Saints, 8% belong to some of the other Christian denominations, while 45% belong to a Protestant denomination. This is further subdivided into 22% of Baptist Protestants, 7% Methodist, 4% Lutheran and 12% of members of other Protestant denominations. Some 2% of the state’s residents belong to some of the other religions, 15% are not religious, and 5% of the interviewed people refused to give an answer. When it comes to the number of adherents, in 2000 largest denominations were the Roman Catholic Church with 850,000 members, the Southern Baptist Convention with almost 800,000 and the United Methodist Church with close to 230,000.
There are a number of headquarters of different religious organizations, including the headquarters of the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the Community of Christ in the city of Independence, the headquarters of the United Pentecostal Church International located in Hazelwood and the headquarters of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod in Kirkwood. Unity Village is the headquarters of the Unity Church, Joplin to the Pentecostal Church of God, Poplar Bluff to the the General Association of General Baptists and Springfield to both the Baptist Bible Fellowship International and the Assemblies of God USA.
Missouri Government and Legislation
Three government branches are provided for under the current Missouri constitution, which is state’s fourth constitution, adopted in 1945. These branches are executive, legislative and judicial. The executive branch has the state Governor at the helm. Governor’s duties and powers include signing or vetoing the bills proposed by Missouri’s General Assembly, controlling Missouri National Guard, and issuing pardons to convicted criminals. Apart from the state Governor, executive branch has five other state officials, including the Lieutenant Governor, the State Secretary and the Attorney General.
Missouri’s legislative branch is embodied in the state’s General Assembly. Assembly is a bicameral body, consisting of two houses, the upper house, Missouri Senate, and the lower, Missouri House of Representatives. Senate has 34 members, while the House of Representatives has 163. Members of the state legislature are in charge of proposing and adopting new state laws. A bill has to gain majority of votes in both houses of the legislature and to gain Governor’s approval before it becomes a law. If the Governor decides to veto a bill in order to prevent it from becoming a law, the General Assembly might still overrule the Governor’s decision if both houses pass the bill with a two thirds majority of votes.
Missouri’s judicial branch operates through a system of courts with different jurisdictions and authorities. The lowest courts are the Circuit Courts. There are 45 of them, and they operate on local level, having original jurisdictions in the vast majority of cases. If the decision of a Circuit Court is deemed unsatisfactory, and there are grounds for appeal, people can turn to the intermediate appellate court, the Missouri Court of Appeals, which has branches in three districts, controlled from Springfield, St. Louis and Kansas City. The highest court in the state is Missouri Supreme Court, which only rarely has original jurisdiction, but mostly has cases relegated to it from other, lower courts, once they have failed to be resolved there.