Missouri Facts

Important Dates:

1764: St. Louis was established by Auguste Chouteau.
1821: Missouri was allowed into the union in 1821 (on August 10th).
1857: The Dred Scott decision was issued by the U.S. Supreme Court.
1865: Missouri was the first U.S. state to free slaves.
1904: The famous St. Louis World Fair.
1945: Harry Truman of Missouri becomes President of the U.S.

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Thomas Hart Benton
Thomas Hart Benton was one of the leading U.S. Democratic Senators who served from 1821 to 1851. He had become a respected national figure during the Jacksonian era. Benton was born in North Carolina but moved to Tennessee in 1801. In 1806, he was licensed to practice law and in 1809, he became a state senator.

In the war of 1812, Benton served as a lieutenant colonel, and later, after a conflict with Andrew Jackson, moved to Saint Louis, where he became editor of the St. Louis Enquirer (1818). In 1820, backed by influential conservatives, Benton was elected to the U.S. Senate and he gained national recognition for his support of the principles of Jackson.

Benton was an active supporter of national programs, particularly for the western portions of America, though he also fought hard against increased federal powers within states. Later in life, Benton came to the conclusion that in fact the Southern leadership rather posed a threat to the idea of national unity. By 1850, Benton was no longer the favorite of Missouri politicians and businessmen, and he wasn’t reelected to the Senate. He later served in the House of Representatives for one term (1853 – 1855).

Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain)
Mark Twain lived from 1815 to 1910 and his real name was Samuel Clemens. He was raised in Hannibal, MO, close to the Mississippi River. His father died in 1847, and the young Twain started to work for the Hannibal Journal which belonged to his brother Orion. Later, Mark went to the Northeast though he kept on writing for his brother’s paper, be it under pseudonyms.

In New Orleans, Mark learned how a steamboat must be operated, a skill that he used until the Civil War broke out. At the beginning of the 1860s, Twain wrote for a Virginian paper and it is in this period that he adopted the name ‘Mark Twain’ which actually was a steamboat term. In 1864, Mark left for San Francisco where he gained national recognition for his story-writing in ‘The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County’.

In 1870, Mark Twain married Olivia Langdon who came from Elmira, New York. The next year the couple moved to Hartford, Connecticut where he wrote, among other masterpieces, ‘Roughing It’ – 1872; ‘The Gilded Age’ (written together with Charles Dudley Warner) – 1875; and his world-famous ‘Tom Sawyer’ – 1875.

In the period 1878 – 1879 Twain traveled to Europe and when he returned, he wrote ‘A Tramp Abroad’ in 1880, and ‘The Prince and the Pauper’ in 1882. Twain published in 1884 ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ which is definitely regarded as his greatest work, and in 1889 ‘A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court’.

In 1894 Mark Twain had to declare bankruptcy because of business failures. He later continued to write books such as ‘The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson’ in 1894, ‘Tom Sawyer Abroad’ in 1894, and ‘Tom Sawyer, Detective’ in 1896. Financially Twain had recovered pretty well over these years, but he was in deep sorrow because of his daughter Susy’s tragic death in 1896, and a few years later, in 1904, his wife also died. Mark Twain kept on writing, though, and his later works include pieces such as ‘The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg’ – 1898, and ‘What Is Man?’ – 1906.

Harry S. Truman
Harry Truman was the 33rd President of the United States, from 1884 to 1972. He was born in Lamar, Missouri but it was in Independence where he grew up. For twelve years, Truman worked as a Missouri farmer, but in World War I, he set out for France as a Field Artillery captain. When he returned, Harry got married and he started a Kansas City-based business.

Truman became active in politics and he was elected Senator in 1934. During World War II Truman chaired a Senate committee that investigated corruption and waste, and as Vice President, he became hardly informed on key issues of national interest such as difficulties in Soviet Union relations or the secret atomic bomb program.

In 1945, on April 12th, Harry Truman became the 33rd President of the nation. He needed to make quite a few crucial decisions during his presidency. He decided to drop the atomic bomb on Nagasaki to bring an end to the war in the Pacific area. In June of that year, he was responsible that the U.N. charter was signed for world peace promotion.

In 1947, Greece and Turkey were facing serious threats Soviet Union threats so he asked Congress to support these countries, and the policy that he developed was called the ‘Truman Doctrine’. Truman’s administration also carried out the ‘Marshall Plan (named after the U.S. Secretary of State), that was aimed at helping post-war Western Europe recover rapidly.

Then, Communist North Korea started to attack South Korea in June 1950. The United Nations, including the United States, decided to react to the North Korean aggression, and after a long and demanding struggle, the United Nations troops managed to maintain South Korea’s northern border. Truman was keeping the Korean War at a very limited level as he didn’t want to risk a major conflict with the Soviet Union or China. In 1953, Truman retired to quiet Independence where he died in 1972, on December 26th.