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Long before European explorers arrived here, this land was the ancestral home of Native American Indian tribes; they raised their children and crops; hunted the bountiful land, and for the most part, lived in peace.
In 1673, the intrepid French explorers, Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet, made their way down the Mississippi River
to a point near present-day St. Louis
. Ten years later, after traveling down that same river, René-Robert Cavelier claimed all the land drained by the Mississippi for France
; he named it the "Louisiana Territory" in honor of his King, Louis XIV.
Shortly thereafter protective forts, small fur-trading posts and settlements sprang up along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers; immigrants by the thousands arrived in this "Land of Opportunity
" via river barges, and soon black slaves from the deep-south were brought in to work in the mining industry. In 1750, Missouri's first permanent settlement, Ste. Genevieve, was built.
For 50 years control of this land alternated between the Spanish and French, and then, in 1800, when the armies of French ruler Napoleon Bonaparte moved across Europe
, pressuring the Spanish Crown into submission, the entire "Louisiana Territory
" was returned to France.
Missouri joins the U.S.
In 1803 Napoleon surprisingly sold the entire area to the United States
in a transaction named the Louisiana Purchase.
The United States doubled in size almost overnight and many new territories were established.
In the new Missouri Territory, settlers from the east arrived in great numbers; they built homesteads and farmed the lands much to the dismay of the already pressured Indians. In a justifiable response the Indians attacked the white men and their uprisings continued until a peace treaty was finally signed in 1815.
In 1818, Missouri requested admittance into the Union as a slave state, but across America (and in Missouri
) there were many opposed to slavery, so the Congress reached an agreement called the "Missouri Compromise
" that let Missouri enter the Union as a "slave state" as long as Maine entered the Union as a "slave free state
." On August 10, 1821, Missouri became the 24th State, and in 1826, Jefferson City the capital.
Slavery was certainly the crisis at the heart of America's Civil War, and in Missouri opposing slavery factions firmly staked their ground; troops were sent to support both the Confederate and Union causes, and eventually neighbors fought neighbors as the tragic war raged on. In the end Missouri witnessed more battles than any other state, next to Tennessee