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Missouri State Motto

Motto and Nickname

The Missouri State Motto
The Missouri motto was adopted in 1822 and is expressed in Latin as "Salus populi suprema lex esto" which means:

"The Welfare of the People is the Highest Law"

The Meaning of the Missouri State Motto
This is not an official state motto but is accepted as an element of its official seal and is also shown on the flag together with another famous motto "United we Stand, Divided we Fall". This famous phrase has been attributed to Aesop and was included in the John Dickinson revolutionary war song The Liberty Song. The phrase was also used by Patrick Henry in his last public speech, given in March 1799

"The Welfare of the People is the Highest Law"


The History of the Missouri State Motto
The patriotic motto was inspired by the words of Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC 43 BC) in 'The de Legibus', meaning 'On the laws', regarding Government, Philosophy and Politics. The dialogue includes proposed reforms to the Roman Constitution.

The Missouri State Nickname
The Missouri Motto is complimented by a less formal, popular Missouri nickname which, combined with the motto, are highly descriptive of the people, the geography and the history of the state. The names used as nicknames are:

Missouri State Nickname List
Official Nickname: Show Me State
Bullion State and Gateway to the West
Cave State and Lead State
Ozark State

George Washington


The Origin and Meaning of the Missouri Nicknames
The history, origin and meaning of each of the state's nicknames are as follows:

The Show Me State
The origin of the official Show Me nickname is unclear but the most credible is attributed to a speech by Missouri's U.S. Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver, who served in the US House of Representatives from 1897 to 1903. In his speech Vandiver declared, "I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me." The "Show Me" phrase is now used to convey the resolute, conservative, nonconforming character of the Missourians.

The Bullion State
The Bullion name originated with Thomas Hart Benton (1782 1858) the first U.S. Senator from Missouri who was nicknamed "Old Bullion". Thomas Hart Benton was a dedicated supporter for hard currency in terms of gold and silver rather than the use of banks and paper money.

Gateway to the West
The Gateway nickname first originated at the time of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. Missouri earned the nickname "Gateway to the West" because it served as a major departure point for expeditions heading to the West in the 1800's. St. Louis was a major supply point for the groups of settlers who headed west to start a new life. The town of St. Charles in Missouri was the starting and end point of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which departed up the Missouri River in 1804 to explore the western territories to the Pacific Ocean.

The Cave State
There are more than 6,400 known caves in Missouri.  In the Mark Twain books a Missouri cave featured in the plots concerning Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. The Mark Twain Cave was dedicated to the author's name.

The Ozark State
The Ozark name refers to the beautiful Ozark Mountains, known to locals simply as "the Ozarks". The Boston Mountains. are the highest and most rugged section, with several peaks more than 2,000 ft (610 m) high. The Ozarks are rich in lead and zinc and this brings us to the next Missouri nickname.

The Lead State
The first recorded instance of lead mining in Missouri was by French explorers in the early 1720s. For most of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, Missouri was the global leader in lead production.


The Constitution of Missouri
The constitution of Missouri establishes the basic rights of its citizens and echoes the words and sentiments of the motto. The preamble (opening) of the constitution is as follows:

"We, the people of Missouri, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, and grateful for His goodness, do establish this Constitution for the better government of the state."

Preamble of the Constitution of Missouri


Missouri State Motto for Kids

Learn the meaning of the motto for kids
"The Welfare of the People is the Highest Law"
Find the meaning of the Motto and nickname
Meaning, History and Origin of the motto for kids
Meaning, origin and history of the nickname
Interesting facts, info and picture of the flag
Official Nickname "Show Me State" for kids
Meaning of the motto and nickname for schools, kids and children

Abraham Lincoln

Missouri State Motto and Nickname for Kids

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