Missouri became the 24th state in the United States on August 10, 1821. The state (or territory) was first obtained as a part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. It was later admitted as a state during the Missouri Compromise of 1820.
The Missouri Compromise was an attempt to preserve the balance of power of Congress between slave and free states. When the Compromise was passed in 1820, Maine became a free state and Missouri became a slave state as a result. Later on, the Compromise was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, ruling that Congress did not have the power to change law regarding slavery in the territories.
Missouri’s state flag was designed by Marie Elizabeth Watkins Oliver in 1913. The flag is rectangular with three horizontal stripes, which are red, white, and blue. They represent the state’s French heritage as they were part of the Louisiana Purchase, bought from France. The stripes also represent valor, justice, purity, and vigilance. In the center is a blue-banded circle surrounded by 24 stars, symbolizing the 24 states in the Union. Inside the circle are two grizzly bears, who represent bravery and strength. The bears are holding a shield which has a gold knight’s helmet sitting atop of it and 24 more stars. Inside the shield is the Missouri Coat of Arms, which is divided by three images. On the right side is a bald eagle grasping olive branches and arrows in its talons (these mean war and peace). On the left side is a grizzly bear on a red background and a crescent moon on a blue background.
Underneath the bears is a white belt which reads, United We Stand, United We Fall. Notice that the grizzly bears holding the shield are standing on top of a ribbon which reads, Salus Populi Suprema Lex Esto (Let the Welfare of the People Be The Supreme Law). Finally, underneath the motto is the Roman numeral for 1820, the year which Missouri became a state.
Missouri is also known for the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were asked by Thomas Jefferson shortly after the Louisiana Purchase to explore the land beyond the West of the great rock mountains. The two gentlemen started their journey in St. Louis, journeying to the Pacific and returning in 1806. They made diplomatic relations with Native Americans and maps were drawn by Clark, who also named many of the places he drew.
Trivia: Iced Tea was first served at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis!