Missouri Miners Breaking Bad: How the “Show-Me State” Got Its Name

Lecture Description

There are different stories about how Missouri became known as the Show-Me State. Few of those stories, however, are true. Today the motto signifies the stalwart, salt-of-the-earth nature of the state’s residents, but it originated in the 1890s as an oath of opprobrium used to denigrate Missourians for their obsequiousness and stupidity. Union miners in Colorado coined the term during an 1896 strike to mock the nonunion Missouri miners who came to the Rockies to work as strikebreakers. Missourians did not like it. Calling someone ‘show-me’ was an easy way to start a brawl, or a gunfight. This lecture tells that story and its consequences, including how Missouri strikebreakers transformed ‘show-me,’ once considered a grave insult, into a dubious badge of honor.

CATEGORIES

Labor and Working Class Social and Cultural

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