Missouri celebrates the 202nd anniversary of their first constitution

202 years ago, the first constitution of Missouri was signed on July 19, 1820.

At the time that the constitution was signed, Missouri had not yet gained statehood. The territory first applied in 1817, but was unable to obtain statehood due to the debate in Congress over slavery. In 1820, Maine applied for statehood with the intention of outlawing slavery. Congress passed the Missouri Compromise in March 1820 that would allowed both Maine and Missouri to gain statehood.

On June 12, 1820, Missouri held its first constitutional convention in St. Louis at the Mansion House Hotel. The convention of 40 men met over 38 days. The preamble read, “We, the people of Missouri, inhabiting the limits hereinafter designated, by our representatives in convention assembled, at St. Louis, on Monday the 12th day of June, 1820, do mutually agree to form and establish a free and independent republic, by the name of ‘the State of Missouri;’ and for the government thereof, do ordain and establish this constitution.”

The constitution was ratified on July 19, 1820, and Missouri was the 24th state admitted to the Union on Aug. 10, 1821.

Throughout the last two centuries, Missouri has adopted three more constitutions. The second constitution was ratified in 1865 following the end of the Civil War. The third was adopted ten years later in 1875 during the Reconstruction Era. The fourth version was ratified in 1945. The fourth constitution is the current constitution. It has been amended 119 times as of June 2022. Every 20 years, Missourian voters have the option to pass a referendum calling a constitutional convention. The referendum will be on the ballot this November.

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