The Origin and Meaning of the
The history, origin and meaning of each of the state's nicknames are
The Show Me
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 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.
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
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 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 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.