On this day, two hundred years ago, U.S. President James Monroe signed legislation making Missouri the twenty-fourth state of the Union. Missourians had been striving for this recognition for at least four years. At the time, there were fewer than one hundred thousand people who lived here. Today, there are more than six million. Our numbers include at least 27,000 residents who are descendants of the Indigenous Peoples who were here long before “Missouri” existed. Likewise, our citizenry today includes the descendants of more than one hundred thousand enslaved peoples whose forced labor helped to build a state and nation in which at one time they were regarded as property rather than as people.
Over the course of the past two centuries, we have grown in population, wealth, prosperity, and, I hope, wisdom. We have simultaneously endured heartbreaking trials and tribulations, through wars, depressions, and pandemics. Through it all, we have not only survived, but thrived. Missouri has long been a place of promise for multiple generations of Missourians. May it remain so now, and in the future. And may our third century of statehood be the time in which that promise is fulfilled.
-Gary R. Kremer