MO Bicentennial Minutes: Missouri’s Permanent Seat of Government Selected
Governor McNair signed the bill selecting the site of the new state capital on December 31, 1821. Missouri is the only state to have a capital founded solely for that purpose.
In true form for the time, land speculation muddled title to the site. An assistant land surveyor, Angus Langham, purchased devalued land grants in New Madrid speculating on issuance of New Madrid certificates. He and others cashed these in for land where the commissioners sought a capital site. Langham had a certificate issued to representatives of John Baptiste Delisle, deceased, which he located on part of the capital site.
When construction began, title was murky, but Langham failed to file a survey before the commissioners withdrew the site from the public domain. In the end, the state offered Langham either $4000 to clear the title, or the threat of taking by eminent domain. He took the cash.
For years the town was not much more than a trading post. Incorporated in 1825, the legislature held its session there in 1826. Jefferson City had arrived!
So, our journey into the Missouri of 1821 is at an end. I hope you have enjoyed these pieces of Missouri history from 200 years ago, and have learned more about our diverse state. The broad themes of Missouri’s history were set at statehood, and continue to this day. Among these are defining the role of the state and federal governments, full opportunity and equality for all Missourians, and the challenge of keeping taxes low while providing public services. Missouri has had an interesting and eventful history in the last 200 years. Let’s all make its third century even better!