Why is Missouri Known as the Show Me State?

Many state symbols of Missouri feature the “show-me” slogan.
Many state symbols of Missouri feature the “show-me” slogan.

Missouri is a Midwestern American state that is bordered by Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, Ozarks, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Illinois. It is the eighteenth most populated American state with a population of about 6 million. The state is named after the Missouri River which flows through Missouri into the Mississippi River.

Missouri was the twenty-fourth American to gain statehood on August 10, 1821. Just like all American states, Missouri has various state symbols, including state flower, animal, and a state nickname. Missouri has no official state nicknames; however, its most popular nickname is the ‘’Show-me State’’ which is indicated on Missouri’s license plates.

Why is Missouri the Show-Me State?

There are numerous legends and tales behind Missouri’s unofficial nickname; however, the most popular legend is attributed to Congressman Duncan Willard. Willard represented Missouri in the House of Representatives between 1897 and 1903. Congressman Willard is credited for coining the phrase ‘’Show-me’’ which he used during a speech he gave in Philadelphia in 1899 while he was a member of the American House Committee of Naval-Affairs. Regardless of whether he coined the phrase or not, his speech helped popularize the slogan. However, numerous researchers claim that the slogan was already being used prior to the 1890s.

Another legend claims that the phrase ‘’Show-me’’ originated from Leadville, Colorado. In Leadville, the slogan was used as a phrase of reproach and ridicule. During the mid-1980s, there was a miner’s strike in Leadville, Colorado. Therefore miners were imported from Missouri to replace the striking miners, and since they were not familiar with the mining techniques, they needed frequent instructions. The bosses of the mines started saying these are miners from Missouri and you will have to show them the mining techniques. The phrase has gained a different meaning, and currently, it refers to the non-credulous, conservative, and strong character of the people of Missouri.

Other Nicknames of Missouri

Other nicknames of this state include ‘’The Cave State’’, ‘’The Ozark State’’, ‘’The Bullion State’’, and ’’The Lead State’’ among others. Missouri is referred to as ‘’The Cave State’’ because there are over 6,000 caves in this state. Missouri has the second-highest number of caves in the U.S. right behind Tennessee. The County of Perry has the single- biggest cave and the highest number of caves in Missouri.Missouri gained its other nickname “the Gateway-to-the-West’’ during the early 1800s since it was the main departure point for settlers and expeditions traveling to the West in the nineteenth century.


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