Missouri, the Heart of the Nation

By William E. Parrish; Charles T. Jones Jr. et al. | Go to book overview
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An Expanding Missouri, 1830–1860

Population Explosion

The three decades prior to the Civil War witnessed a tremendous growth in population within Missouri. The 1830 federal census reported 140,455 residents settled largely in a T-shape along the state's two great rivers. Thirty years later that number had increased tenfold and stood at 1,182,012, with all of the state's present 114 counties having been established except Worth in the far northwest corner. Intermediate censuses revealed 383,702 Missourians in 1840 which nearly doubled to 682,044 by 1850. Throughout the first twenty years of this period the majority of Missouri's citizens continued to be southern in origin although an increasing stream of foreign immigrants began pouring into the state in the 1830s and 1840s.

But during the 1850s, while the percentage of native-born Missourians remained relatively stable and that of southern-born increased 44 percent, the population of northern-born residents jumped 180 percent while those of foreign birth increased by 110 percent. By 1860 northern- and foreign-born residents outnumbered southern-born residents within the state's population for the first time. Most of the rapidly growing number of northern immigrants settled in the upper tier along the Iowa border and in the rapidly developing urban area of St. Louis. Many of those who were foreign born remained in St. Louis, but they also spread along the Missouri River as far west as Cole County. Considerable pockets of foreignborn newcomers could also be found in Marion County in the northeast and in Lafayette, Buchanan, and Platte counties at the opposite end of the state. Of the southerners who continued to come, many were from the hill country of Tennessee and Kentucky who


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Missouri, the Heart of the Nation


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