Why Is Jefferson City The Capital Of Missouri?

Why Is Jefferson City The Capital Of Missouri?
Why Is Jefferson City The Capital Of Missouri?


Missouri is an amazing state and a lot of people love to visit it – but do you know what its capital is? Knowing this will enhance your understanding of the state, especially if you plan to visit it one day!

Missouri’s capital is Jefferson City, which was built in 1826. It was the government seat and it houses the Capitol, which overlooks the Missouri River. It was named after Thomas Jefferson, and it also houses Lincoln University, which was founded in 1866. It is currently the 15th most populous city in Missouri. In terms of its geography, it’s near the center of the state.

We’ll use this article to understand more about Jefferson City, touching on its history, why it became the capital of Missouri, and some of the top places you can check out while there.

Where Is The Capital Of Missouri Located? 

Where Is The Capital Of Missouri Located 
Where Is The Capital Of Missouri Located

Jefferson City is found on the Ozark Plateau, on the northern edge. This Plateau is on the south side of the Missouri River, approximately halfway between two of Missouri’s biggest urban areas, St. Louis and Kansas City.

It is close to the center of the state, making it a convenient location for many people passing through or living in Missouri.

Brief History Of Jefferson City

Jefferson City has a rich and fascinating history. It was built specifically to be the state capital, and before its creation, St. Charles was Missouri’s capital. The city was commissioned in 1821, but not finished until 1825. In 1826, the general assembly moved to the city, which was still very small and compact. 

Jefferson City was not a popular capital and for years, there was lobbying for other towns to be named the capital, so a few years later, a state prison was built there to increase the city’s standing. In 1837, however, the Capitol was burned and the state records contained within were all lost.

Another Capitol was erected a year later, and trade and prestige were brought to the city throughout the 1830s. In particular, many German immigrants came to live and farm in the local area.

In 1855, Jefferson City was linked up to St. Louis with the Pacific Railroad Line, but unfortunately, an early accident delayed regular rail services for a full year. However, this connection was a very important aspect of the growth of Jefferson City.

When the civil war began, Missouri fell on the side of retaining slavery, and the southern states seceding from the rest of America. The Governor (named Jackson) created a militia and joined the Confederates, but lost Capitol Hill to the Union troops. The Union occupied the city, and deep rifts continued for many years afterward.

When Did Jefferson City Become The Capital Of Missouri?

Jefferson City Missouri State Capital
Jefferson City Missouri State Capital

This city was named the capital of Missouri in 1821, in honor of Thomas Jefferson, but it only officially became the capital in 1926. It was specifically created to be the capital, which is somewhat unusual. It was originally just a small settlement known as Lohman’s Landing, and did not seem an obvious choice.

The city was laid out by the son of a famous pioneer, Daniel Boone. He worked on the designs in 1822. For a while, there was talk of naming the city Missouriopolis, but then Jefferson was chosen instead.

Why Is Jefferson City The Capital Of Missouri?

Jefferson City, Missouri, USA downtown view on the Missouri River with the State Capitol at dusk
Jefferson City, Missouri, USA downtown view on the Missouri River with the State Capitol at dusk

Jefferson City is the capital, despite multiple attempts to change it, because of government legislation. It was elected as the place to hold the title of state capital by the Missouri state itself. A lot of people find this surprising, because it’s insignificant when compared with St. Louis or Kansas.

Because of its relative unimportance, with a small population and little significant trade in its early years, several attempts have been made by other cities to revoke its status as the capital. Even after the civil war, its status was contested.

The town of Sedalia attempted to claim the title from it in 1896, but the move was put to a vote and Jefferson City was more popular among Missouri citizens – meaning it retained its position. Over the years, government buildings and other important infrastructure have been built in Jefferson City, cementing its status.

The present Capitol building was created in 1924, and during the Great Depression, the city grew considerably, and it has retained its popularity through to today.

Best Places to Visit In Jefferson City

There are lots of things to do in Jefferson City, so let’s check a few out. The Missouri State Capitol will always win first place if you’re interested in history, politics, or almost anything else to do with culture. It is an amazing building, rich with the past, and has extraordinary and beautiful architecture.

If you would rather be out and about, you might want to check out the Runge Conservation Nature Center, which has some amazing animals to look at, beautiful walkways, and lots to learn. You can see some of Missouri’s native animals and plants, and enjoy learning more about them.

Alternatively, check out the Lewis and Clark Monument Trailhead Plaza, which is resplendent with statues and steeped in history. Lewis and Clark passed the bluff that the Capitol stands on as they made their incredible historic journey up the river.

Another option is the Missouri State Museum, which will teach you everything you could want to know about this state. It is free entry, so it makes a great day out with the family if you’re on a budget, and it offers a wealth of information about Missouri and Jefferson City. It’s a big building with an enormous amount to see and do.

Finally, consider the Governor’s Mansion or the Missouri State Penitentiary Museum; both of these are rich with Missouri’s history and information about the past.


Jefferson City is the extraordinary capital of Missouri, officially taking this title in 1826. It has had a rocky history, with civil wars, natural disasters, and rival claims for its title, but it has stood through them all and become a proud center of government and history, which any visitor will love.

See Also

Capital Cities 

Hi and welcome to my travel blog! Based in London, I work in investment banking in a quantitative field and although I am not part of the travel industry, I have a ton of passion for travel. My blog is a reference guide for my fellow travelers with the same passion as me. Hopefully the blog is easy to navigate and my aim is to bring the most relevant and interesting information before you begin your journey!