When Missouri became a state 193 years ago Sunday, the plan was to put the state capitol in a central location. But there was just one problem.
“There was no Jefferson City at the time,” said Sue Love, with the Missouri Parks Department. "They built it specifically to be our capitol. So while they were building Jefferson City, they had to have some place to meet, plan and prepare because they had already started the process of becoming a state.”
So from 1821 until 1826, St. Charles was the state’s capitol. According to Love, state representatives traveled hundreds of miles by horse, wagon, and boat to meet in the second floor of the Peck Brother’s dry goods and hardware store. Because most of the first representatives were farmers, most legislative sessions were held between planting and harvesting, in the winter or summer.
Love said nine cities competed to become the first state capitol, but St. Charles won out for three reasons.
“We had great transportation from here, by trail and by river. We had the space available right when they needed it. And they offered it rent free for the first two years. So who could beat a deal like that?”
The anniversary of Missouri’s statehood was celebrated Saturday in St. Charles with tours of the first capitol building and demonstrations of period crafts and games.
But Missouri’s entrance into the Union was not all fun and games. As part of the Missouri Compromise, it became the only western state above the Mason Dixon line to allow slavery.