August 10, 1821 – Missouri Joins the Union as the 24th State


In 1818, the Missouri territorial legislature petitioned Congress to be admitted to the Union as a slave state. This would, however, upset the balance of power in Congress, and antislavery members objected. The famous Missouri Compromise was enacted to allow Missouri’s admission to the Union but also stipulating that the remaining portion of the Louisiana Territory above the 36°30′ line was to be free from slavery. In addition, Maine was to be admitted simultaneously as a free state. (In 1854, the Missouri Compromise was repealed by the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which allowed white male settlers in those territories to determine through popular sovereignty whether they would allow slavery within each territory.)


While Congress argued, Missouri was taking steps to expand in other ways, by adopting, in December, 1820, a “bachelor tax” which applied to all unmarried white males between the ages of twenty-one and fifty. Because men far outnumbered women in early Missouri, its legislators believed this measure would encourage the men to go out and find women and bring them back. But bachelor taxes were employed by other states as well, with the more ideological agenda of support for the institution of marriage. The New York Times, for example, wrote in 1921 in “Topics of the Times”:

It would be interesting to know why a proposal to tax bachelors is invariably greeted as a joke. … The tax on bachelors certainly is warranted by every claim of economics and sociology. No service to the State is half so vital as that rendered by the father of a family, yet he has not only to support his wife and children but is taxed directly on his income and indirectly on every item of food and clothing bought for those dependent on him.”

Or maybe, as it sounds like in the article cited above, married men were jealous because they viewed bachelors as not only unencumbered but paying less to be more free and perhaps have more fun….

In any event, Missouri repealed its bachelor tax in 1822, replacing it with a poll tax on all free white males.


Missouri is named for the Missouri River, which was in turn named after the indigenous Missouri Indians, a Siouan-language tribe. Residents have never agreed on the correct pronunciation however, and to this day the name of the state is pronounced as either “Missour-ee” or “Missour-uh.”

Missouri has an official dessert as of 2008, which, appropriately enough, is the ice cream cone. This dessert was popularized at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis.

Scene from the 1904 World's Fair

Scene from the 1904 World’s Fair


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