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Missouri Essay

1603 words - 7 pages

The middle-of-the-road state of Missouri stands nearly midcenter in the coterminous United States. It shares its borders with eight states of the Midwest, South, and Southwest-Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Oklahoma.Once Missouri was on the edge of the nation's last frontier and served as the stepping-stone to unknown country. Its role in American history is symbolized by the Gateway Arch, part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. A developer's dream of restoring the blighted St. Louis riverfront during the Great Depression, the project eventually became a national salute to the Louisiana Purchase. Sometimes criticized as an oversized croquet ...view middle of the document...

No single locale typifies the state. Fields of corn and wheat spread over the northern and western plains. In the southeast soybeans and cotton grow in the alluvial soil of the Mississippi Floodplain. Lumber comes from the forests of the Ozark Mountains. The east-central and southwestern sections have marble and stone quarries and significant lead mines.The Show Me State was the birthplace of writers as disparate as T.S. Eliot and Mark Twain and Robert Heinlein. The state produced Calamity Jane, Jesse James, Josephine Baker, and Chuck Berry, as well as able legislators, outstanding soldiers, and a colorful president who made decisions that affected the course of American history. Although Missouri was admitted into the Union as a slave state, it remained in the Union during the American Civil War.Missouri shares its name with the river that cuts across the center of the state, entering the Mississippi above St. Louis. The name was got from a tribe of Sioux Indians of the state called the Missouris. The word "Missouri" often has been construed to mean "muddy water" but the Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology has stated it means "town of the large canoes," and authorities have said the Indian syllables from which the word comes mean "wooden canoe people" or "he of the big canoe."There are a number of stories and legends behind Missouri's sobriquet "Show-Me" state. The slogan is not official, but is common throughout the state and is used on Missouri license plates.This most widely recognized nickname for Missouri was in use in the late 1890s. It's not known exactly where or how this nickname originated.The most popular story regarding this nickname revolves around remarks made by United States Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver who served as a member of the U.S. House Committee on Naval Affairs. Mr. Vandiver, a scholar, writer and lecturer with a passing resemblance to Mark Twain, was speaking to Philadelphia's Five O'Clock Club. Questioning the accuracy of an earlier speaker's remarks he concluded "I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me."Another story is that the nickname originated as a derogatory reference to Missouri miners working in Leadville, Colorado. During the Colorado miner's strike, men from Joplin, Missouri were brought in to work the mines. It is said that the Missouri workers, unfamiliar with Colorado mining methods, required frequent instructions from the pit bosses. "That man is from Missouri. You'll have to show him."Another legend indicates that the name originated on passenger trains. Around 1897, hundreds of free train passes were given to Missouri legislators. The conductors, when told that a free pass was being used, would say "You've got to show me."Yet another story centers around soldiers stationed at Chickamauga Park in Tennessee in 1898 at the start of the...

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