Historic Jefferson City|
Jefferson City, Missouri
Jefferson City, Missouri, the state´s capital, was named for Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States. Jefferson´s vision for the expansion of US territories led to the Louisiana Purchase. Missouri was part of that purchase. Jefferson City is located on the Missouri River near the geographic center of the state, and is dominated by a beautiful domed Capitol, rising from a bluff overlooking the Missouri River. Lewis and Clark passed beneath that bluff on their historic expedition. From the Capitol Complex the city extends eastward, southward, and westward over ridges and valleys paralleling the south bank of the river. On the north side of the river, where the airport is located, zoning is primarily commercial.
How the City of Jefferson became the State Capital
When the Missouri Territory was organized in 1812, St. Louis was the seat of government. St. Charles served as the capital until Jefferson City was chosen as the new capital in 1821. In many ways, the manner in which Jefferson City was chosen as a site for Missouri´s capital is reminiscent of the political wrangling which resulted in the formation of the District of Columbia, home of our nation´s capital. The site for Missouri´s capital was chosen as a compromise between two major population centers. In the case of the District of Columbia it was North and South. In Jefferson City´s case it was East and West. In 1821 Jefferson City was known as Lohman´s Landing. It was little more than a trading post located in the wilderness about midway between St. Louis and Kansas City. In 1826 the Missouri legislature first met here. In 1839 the site was incorporated as a city. In a serendipitous way, those early founders insured that Jefferson City would become one of the most beautiful state capitals in the nation. The great domed Capitol, resembling the one in Washington, D.C., stands majestically at the center of the city, unlike many state capitols, which are frequently dwarfed by nearby skyscrapers. In Jefferson City the Capitol Complex dominates the skyline in an imposing way and visitors arriving from any direction know they have arrived at a seat of government.
The present building, which was completed in 1917, is particularly noteworthy for its murals by Missouri-born painter Thomas Hart Benton. It houses both legislative branches of government. The Governor´s Mansion, completed in 1871, lies adjacent to the Capitol separated only by a picturesque garden. Nearby are the Jefferson Building (1952), the State Office Building (1938), the Supreme Court Building (1906), and the Truman Building (1983).
Just a Few of Our Famous Citizens
Missouri is the birthplace of T.S. Eliot, Samuel Clemens (better known as "Mark Twain"), Robert Heinlein, and is the boyhood home of Walt Disney. The state has produced famous characters such as Calamity Jane, Josephine Baker, Chuck Berry, and the unforgettable Harry S. Truman. Missouri was also home to some infamous citizens such as Frank and Jesse James. Missouri has supplied outstanding military leaders in both World War I and World War II. John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force in 1917-18, was born near Laclede, Missouri. Omar N. Bradley, Army group commander (1944-45) and the nation´s first chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1949-53), was born in Clark. George Washington Carver, an African American born near Diamond, became famous for his scientific research in peanuts and agriculture.
Before the Louisiana Purchase
In pre-columbian times, this region was home of an ancient people known as the Mound People. In fact, the largest prehistoric city in North America was located just 160 miles east of here in what is now Cahokia, Illinois. The city had several pyramid-like mounds which remain to this day. The disappearance of the Mound People remains a mystery. When European settlers began arriving here, the indigenous peoples were called the Osage Indians.
The mouth of the Missouri River was explored by the French explorers Jolliet and Marquette in 1673. In 1682 La Salle came down the Mississippi and included the country in Louisiana, which he claimed for France. In 1715 Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac opened a lead mine in present Madison County. Philip Renault, another Frenchman, worked the mines in this area with slaves until 1744. The first permanent white settlement was made by the French, at Ste. Genevieve, in the late 1740s. The second settlement, St. Louis, was founded by Pierre Laclede in 1764. Many new settlers arrived from Kentucky and Tennessee by way of the Ohio River and its tributaries.
Soon after 1789, the Spanish built a road (El Camino Real, "The King´s Highway") northward from New Madrid to St. Louis. This route is now US 61. Early in the 1800s Daniel Boone blazed Boone´s Lick Trail (now Interstate 70) westward from St. Charles to the Missouri River at Franklin. The Santa Fe Trail, opened in 1821, ran from Franklin westward to Independence and then southwestward. From Independence also the Oregon Trail branched westward. The state´s system of modern highways originated with the Centennial Road Law of 1921.
The "Show Me" State
The state´s "nickname" is the Show Me State. The expression is usually traced to a speech given in 1899 in Philadelphia by Willard D. Vandiver, a Missouri congressman: "I come from a country that raises corn, cotton, cockleburs, and Democrats. I´m from Missouri, and you´ve got to show me."
Current Facts about Jefferson City
Population: 38,083 (2000 census)
Class of City: Home Rule
Type of Government: Mayor/City Council - City Administrator
County: Cole and Callaway
Date Incorporated: November 7, 1825
Date of Charter Adoption: February 4, 1986
U.S. Senators: Christopher S. Bond and Jim Talent
U.S. Congressional Dist. 4: Ike Skelton
State Congressional District 114: Bill Deeken
State Senate District 6: Carl Vogel
Total Area: 36.04 square miles (as of May 11, 2004)
Sales Tax Rate: 6.225%
Parts of this article were excerpted from Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia. Copyright © 1994, 1995 Compton’s NewMedia, Inc.