1673: French missionaries Father Jacques Marquette and
Louis Joliet explore the central United States along
the Mississippi River south to the Arkansas River.
Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, reaches Missouri on
his way to the mouth of the Mississippi. He visits
a Quapaw village and claims the land in the name
of King Louis XIV.
1724: Frenchman Etienne de Bourgmont builds the
first fort on the Missouri River
1763: Most of Louisiana (which included Missouri)
becomes a Spanish possession as a result of the defeat
of the French by the British in the French and Indian
1764: St. Louis was founded in 1764 by the Frenchman
Pierre Laclède Liguest.
1800: French ruler Napoleon I re-acquires Louisiana
Territory from the Spanish in the Treaty of San Ildefonso.
1803: Napoleon I offers to sell New Orleans and
the entire Louisiana Territory (which included an
area much larger than present-day Louisiana) to the
U.S. Government for $15,000,000. The United States
agrees and doubles in size.
1804: American explorers Meriwether Lewis and William
Clark begin their three year exploration of the Louisiana
Territory and beyond at St. Louis.
New Madrid earthquakes rock the town of New Madrid
and caused permanent changes in the course of the
Mississippi River. The series of earthquakes were
the most powerful in recorded American history.
1812: The Missouri Territory is carved from the
1821: As a result of the Missouri Compromise, Missouri
becomes the 24th state and enters the Union as a
- 1857: The Supreme Court rules that free slaves
could be re-enslaved in the infamous Dred Scott Decision.
1848: Independence, Missouri becomes a popular starting
out point for settlers heading west on the Santa
Fe, Oregon, and California Trails, as well as for
those heading to the California Gold Rush.
1861-1865: Missouri is the site of several decisive battles
during the Civil War, though the slave state never
secedes from the Union, classifying it as a "border
state." Roving bands of Missouri guerillas known
as Quantrill's Raiders massacre hundreds of Union
supporters and spread terror through Missouri, Kansas,
Oklahoma, and Texas.
1965: Construction begins on the Gateway Arch in