Missouri Timeline

1673 During their voyage down the Mississippi River, Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet were the first Europeans to set foot on land that would later become Missouri 

1682 Explorer Robert Cavalier, Sieur de La Salle took possession of the Louisiana Territory area for France (Apr. 9) 

1724 Fort Orleans built on the north bank of the Missouri River by Etienne de Bourgmont in todayís Carroll County; it was abandoned six years later 

1750 Approximate date of the founding of Ste. Genevieve, the first permanent white settlement 

1762 Spain gained control of the Louisiana Territory in the Treaty of Fontainebleau (Nov. 13) 

1764 City of St. Louis was founded by Pierre Laclede Liguest (Feb. 15) 

1769 City of St. Charles was established by Louis Blanchette as a trading post 

1770 The Spanish government officially assumed control of the Territory of Louisiana (May 20) 

1773 Mine au Breton (later Potosi) founded 

1789 Colonel George Morgan established the city of New Madrid (Feb. 14) 

1793 Louis Lorimer received trading privileges and authority to establish a post at Cape Girardeau (Jan. 4) 

1798 Lieutenant Governor Zenon Trudeau of the Spanish government offered Daniel Boone 1000 arpents to settle in the 

1800 Moses Austin made the first sheet lead and cannonballs manufactured in Missouri 

1800 Spain returned the Louisiana Territory to France (Oct. 30) 

1803 The Louisiana Purchase was signed (Apr. 30) 

1804 The Lewis and Clark Expedition set out from St. Louis (May 14) 

1805 The Territory of Louisiana was established; the seat of government was St. Louis (Mar. 3) 

1808 The city of Ste. Genevieve was incorporated (June 18) 

1808 Joseph Charless founded the first newspaper in Missouri, the "Missouri Gazette" 

1808 Fort Osage was established on the Missouri River 

1809 The Missouri Fur Company was organized in St. Louis. The abundance of animal pelts in the Mississippi Valley region played a key role in the development of the Upper Louisiana territory. Prominent members of the Company included fur trader Manuel Lisa, Auguste and Pierre Chouteau, and William Clark 

1811 The first shocks of the New Madrid earthquakes, the worst in US history, occurred (Dec. 16) 

1812 A portion of the Territory of Louisiana became the Territory of Missouri (June 4) 

1812 The first general assembly of the Territory of Missouri met (Oct. 1); the five original counties were organized: Cape Girardeau, New Madrid, St. Charles, St. Louis, and Ste. Genevieve 

1816 Mid-Missouriís first circuit court opened at Coleís Fort (July 8) 

1817 The steamboat Zebulon M. Pike reached St. Louis, the first steamboat to navigate the Mississippi River above the mouth of the Ohio River (Aug. 2) 

1818 The Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives presented the first petition to Congress from Missouri requesting statehood (Jan. 8) 

1820 The Missouri statehood controversy became a national issue as the issue of slavery was debated. The "Missouri Compromise" allowed Missouri to enter the Union as a slave state and Maine as a free state, thus keeping the balance of slave and free states equal in Congress. Although Missouri was allowed to enter as a slave state, the remaining portion of the Louisiana Purchase area north of the 36į 30Ę line was to be forever free of slavery 

1820 Missouriís Enabling Act was passed and approved by President James Monroe (Mar. 6) 

1820 Missouriís first Constitution was adopted (Jul. 19) 

1820 Missouriís first state elections were held and Alexander McNair was elected Missouriís first governor (Aug. 28) 

1820 Missouri's first General Assembly began its first session at the Missouri Hotel in St. Louis (Sept. 18) 

1821 President James Monroe admitted Missouri as the 24th state; the state capitol was located in St. Charles until a permanent location was designated (Aug. 10) 

1821 The Santa Fe Trail was opened by William Becknellís successful trading expeditions to Santa Fe (Sept. 1) 

1821 Governor Alexander McNair signed the bill designating the site for the City of Jefferson (Dec. 31) 

1822 A bill to create the Missouri State Seal was adopted (Jan. 11) 

1825 William Beaumont began research observing the human digestive system (Aug. 1) 

1826 Jefferson City was designated Missouriís permanent seat of government; all state records, equipment, and the Great Seal were moved to Jefferson City on October 1st 

1829 Missouri State Library established by law (Jan. 22) 

1835 Writer Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) was born in Florida, Missouri (Nov. 30) 

1836 Missouri State Penitentiary received its first prisoner (Mar. 8) 

1837 President Martin Van Buren issued a proclamation which completed the annexation of the Platte Purchase area to Missouri, establishing the northwestern border of the state (Mar. 28) 

1837 Missouriís first capitol in Jefferson City was destroyed by fire (Nov. 15) 

1838 Governor Lilburn Boggs issued the "Extermination Order" against Mormons living in Missouri, demanding that members of the Mormon church leave the state (Oct. 27) 

1839 The Geyer Act, the foundation of Missouriís public school system, was approved (Feb. 9) 

1841 The University of Missouri, the first state university west of the Mississippi River, opened (Apr. 14) 

1843 Joseph Robidoux filed a plat of a town which he called St. Joseph (Jul. 26) 

1843 Susan Elizabeth Blow, founder of the public kindergarten movement, was born in St. Louis (June 7) 

1847 Legislation was enacted to establish a hospital for care and treatment of the insane; State Hospital No. 1 was established in Fulton and began receiving patients in 1851 

1847 Boatmenís Bank, the oldest bank west of the Mississippi River, was established (Oct. 18) 

1847 St. Louis was connected to the East Coast by telegraph (Dec. 20) 

1849 With the discovery of gold in California, the Missouri towns of St. Louis, Independence, Westport, and St. Joseph became points of departure for emigrants bound for California, making Missouri the "Gateway to the West" 

1849 The second, and most serious, cholera epidemic struck St. Louis; over 4000 people died 

1850 The town of Kansas (later Kansas City) was incorporated (Feb. 4) 

1850 Poet Eugene Field was born in St. Louis (Sept. 3) 

1851 Groundbreaking ceremonies for the construction of the Pacific Railroad were held in St. Louis; the line was to go from St. Louis to Jefferson City and then to some point on the western boundary (Jul. 4) 

1854 President Franklin Pierce signed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, allowing the notion of "popular sovereignty" in determining if a territory would be a slave state or a free state. This act set the stage for the violent Kansas-Missouri border wars where the Missouri "Border Ruffians" and the Kansas "Jayhawkers" transformed a frontier quarrel over slaveryís borders into a national issue (May 30) 

1857 The Dred Scott decision was handed down by U.S. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney; the case originated in St. Louis. Under Missouri statutes, in 1846 Scott was allowed to sue for his freedom from slavery based on the fact that he had previously lived in a free territory (Wisconsin) before his return to the slave state of Missouri (Mar. 6) 

1857 Work began on the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis, established by Henry Shaw 

1860 The short-lived Pony Express started its first run from St. Joseph to Sacramento, California (Apr. 3) 

1861 The Battle of Wilsonís Creek resulted in a Union retreat and southwestern Missouri was left in Confederate hands until the Battle of Pea Ridge (Aug. 10) 

1861 President Abraham Lincoln revoked John Fremontís emancipation proclamation for Missouri (Sept. 11) 

1861 Missouriís "Rebel Legislature" adopted an Act of Secession (Oct. 28) 

1862 In a three-day battle at Pea Ridge, Arkansas, the Union Army forced the Confederates, excluding the state guard from Missouri, to retreat; this battle effectively ended the threat of Confederate military control in Missouri (Mar. 6-8) 

1863 William Clarke Quantrill and his band of pro-Southern guerillas raided the pro-Union town of Lawrence, Kansas, killing nearly 150 men and boys. This attack served to avenge the imprisonment of their wives, mothers, and sisters in Kansas City (Aug. 21) 

1863 Brigadier General Thomas Ewing issued General Order No. 11, requiring all people living in Jackson, Cass, Bates, and northern Vernon counties to vacate the area unless their loyalty to the Union could be proven (Aug. 25) 

1864 George Washington Carver born near Diamond, Missouri 

1865 Slavery was abolished in Missouri by an ordinance of immediate emancipation, making Missouri the first slave state to emancipate its slaves before the adoption of the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution (Jan. 11) 

1865 Missouriís second Constitution (Drake Constitution) was adopted. A group of politicians, known as "Radicals," favored emancipation of slaves and disfranchisement of persons who were sympathetic to the Confederacy during the Civil War. The Radicals included an "Ironclad Oath" in the new constitution to exclude former Confederate sympathizers from the vote and certain occupations, severely limiting their civil rights (Apr. 10) 

1866 Lincoln Institute (later Lincoln University) was incorporated as an institution for black students in Missouri (Apr. 6) 

1866 The Missouri Historical Society was organized in St. Louis (Aug. 11) 

1867 The Missouri Womanís Suffrage Club was organized in St. Louis; the sole purpose of this organization was the political enfranchisement of women, the first such organization in the United States (May 8) 

1870 M. Lemma Barkeloo was the first woman lawyer in Missouri (St. Louis); She was the first woman trial lawyer in the United States, and the first woman lawyer to try a case in federal court 

1871 Phoebe W. Couzins of St. Louis became Missouri's first woman law school graduate when she graduated from the Washington University Law Department (May 8) Couzins later became the nation's first Woman U.S. Marshal in 1887 

1872 Governor B. Gratz Brown and family moved into the newly completed Governorís Mansion (Jan. 20) 

1873 The Missouri Supreme Court upheld a decision by the St. Louis Circuit Court, denying Virginia Minor the right to register to vote 

1873 Susan Blow opened the first public kindergarten in the United States in St. Louis 

1874 The first train robbery by the James Gang took place at Gads Hill (Jan. 31) 

1874 The Eads Bridge, spanning the Mississippi River, was opened in St. Louis (Jul. 4) 

1875 Grasshopper plague in Missouri caused an estimated $15 million worth of damages 

1875 Missouriís third Constitution was adopted (Oct. 30) 

1881 Governor Thomas Crittenden offered a $5000 reward for the arrest and conviction of members of the Jesse James gang (Jul. 28) 

1882 Jesse James was killed by Bob Ford in St. Joseph (Apr. 3) 

1891 St. Louisí Wainwright Building, one of Americaís first skyscrapers, was designed by Louis Sullivan 

1894 The American School of Osteopathy was incorporated by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still in Kirksville (Oct. 30) 

1898 Volunteers for the Spanish-American War began arriving in St. Louis (May 4) 

1899 The State Historical Society of Missouri was incorporated in Columbia (Mar. 9) 

1899 Scott Joplin's "The Maple Leaf Rag" was published in Sedalia, Missouri 

1901 The first State Fair held at Sedalia opened (Sept. 9) 

1901 The Monsanto Company was founded in St. Louis (Nov. 29) 

1904 The 1904 Worldís Fair opened in St. Louis (Apr. 30) 

1907 The primary election law was adopted in Missouri 

1909 Missouri Supreme Court handed down a decision in the case against Standard Oil Company, affirming the companyís violation of Missouri antitrust laws 

1911 Missouri State Capitol was completely destroyed by fire after being struck by lightning (Feb. 5) 

1913 Direct election of senators was authorized; previously, US senators from Missouri were elected by the General Assembly 

1919 Governor Frederick D. Gardner signed a law granting presidential suffrage to women (Apr. 5) 

1919 Missouri became the eleventh state to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment granting suffrage to women (Jul. 2) 

1920 The Nineteenth Amendment was added to the U. S. Constitution on August 26. Marie Byrum became the first woman to vote in Missouri history (Aug. 31) 

1921 The Centennial Road Law, providing for the construction of a modern system of Missouri highways, was signed into law (Aug. 4) 

1922 Mellcene T. Smith and Sarah Lucille Turner became the first women elected to the Missouri state legislature (Nov. 7) 

1927 Charles Lindbergh landed the "Spirit of St. Louis" in Paris (May 21) 

1931 A bill creating the Missouri State Highway Patrol was signed by Governor Henry S. Caulfield (Apr. 24) 

1931 Bagnell Dam was completed, forming the Lake of the Ozarks, one of the largest artificial lakes in the world with approximately 1400 miles of shoreline 

1933 William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art, was opened to the public in Kansas City 

1935 Thomas Hart Benton painted A Social History of Missouri in the State Capitol Building's House Lounge 

1937 The first Missouri Conservation Commission was appointed (Jul. 1) 

1938 The United States Supreme Court handed down its decision in the Lloyd Gaines case. The court struck a blow to Missouriís "separate but equal" laws, stating that in the absence of an equal law school for black students, Gaines should be admitted to the University of Missouri law school (Dec. 12) 

1939 Kansas City "Boss" Tom Pendergast was sentenced to fifteen months in the federal penitentiary for income tax evasion (May 22) 

1939 The McDonnell Aircraft Corporation was organized by J.S. McDonnell; it merged with Douglas to form McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Corporation in 1967 

1940 The Ellis Fischel State Cancer Center was opened in Columbia, becoming the first state-owned and operated hospital west of the Mississippi River devoted exclusively to the care of cancer patients 

1945 The Missouri Supreme Court handed down its decision in the Kraemer v. Shelley St. Louis housing segregation case 

1945 Missouriís fourth, and current, Constitution became effective (Mar. 30) 

1945 U.S. Vice President Harry S Truman, from Independence, became President upon the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Apr. 12) 

1945 Japan signed documents of surrender ending World War II in the Pacific on the deck of the USS Missouri (Sept. 2) 

1946 Winston Churchill, former Prime Minister of England, delivered his "Iron Curtain" speech at Fultonís Westminster College (Mar. 5) 

1948 President Harry S Truman elected to the Presidency 

1952 Leonor K. Sullivan became Missouriís first woman U.S. Representative 

1954 The Missouri State Penitentiary Riot (Sept. 22) 

1957 Missouri Commission on Human Rights was created (June 8) 

1965 The Gateway Arch (Jefferson National Expansion Memorial) designed by Eero Saarinen was completed. Located on the original settlement site of St. Louis, it symbolizes the role of St. Louis in the development of the western frontier 

1968 Race riots in Kansas City in response to the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (April) 

1972 Mary Gant became Missouriís first woman state senator 

1977 Gwen B. Giles became Missouriís first African-American woman state senator 

1980 Court-ordered desegregation began in Missouri, attempting to alleviate the racial isolation of black students. The court determined that the State of Missouri was required to pay half of the cost of school desegregation plans; numerous legal issues arose (May) 

1982 Government workers began taking soil samples, testing for dioxin at Times Beach; the town was later evacuated 

1984 Margaret B. Kelly became the first woman to hold statewide office in Missouri when she was appointed to the office of State Auditor (May 30) 

1987 Whiteman Air Force Base in Knob Knoster was designated as the home of the B-2 Stealth Bomber unit 

1987 Ann K. Covington became the first woman appointed to the Missouri Supreme Court 

1988 The Missouri Supreme Court handed down its decision in the Nancy Cruzan "right to life" case 

1988 Missouriís first presidential primary on the occasion of Richard Gephardt, US Congressman from Missouri, running for the Democratic nomination 

1992 Missouri voters approved riverboat gambling excursions on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers 

1993 The Great Flood of 1993 devastated parts of Missouri and the Midwest 

1993 Outstanding Schools Act was passed; it was a $310 million measure to reform Missouri schools and their funding 

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This page was last updated August 14, 2006.