Missouri vs. Kansas: Which State Was Founded First?

Missouri and Kansas, two neighboring states in the Midwest, both have fascinating histories that have shaped the region. One question that often arises is, which state was founded first? To determine the order of Missouri and Kansas, it’s essential to explore their historical timelines and founding dates.

Missouri, known as the “Show-Me State,” was founded before Kansas. It achieved statehood in 1821, emerging from the Missouri Territory as a slave state. The Missouri Compromise, which aimed to restrict the spread of slavery, played a significant role in shaping the state’s order in the region.

Kansas, on the other hand, became a state in 1861 and was admitted to the Union as a free state after the tumultuous period of “Bleeding Kansas.” This term refers to the violent conflict that erupted as residents, including pro-slavery settlers from Missouri, debated whether slavery would be allowed in the territory.

While Missouri came first in terms of statehood, both states have unique historical backgrounds and have made valuable contributions to American history. Exploring their stories not only determines the order of Missouri and Kansas but also allows for a deeper understanding of the Midwest region as a whole.

Key Takeaways:

  • Missouri was founded as a state in 1821, while Kansas achieved statehood in 1861.
  • The Missouri Compromise played a crucial role in determining the state order and the spread of slavery in the region.
  • “Bleeding Kansas” refers to the violent conflict that occurred as residents debated slavery in the territory.
  • Both Missouri and Kansas have rich histories and have contributed to the nation’s development.
  • Exploring their stories deepens our understanding of the Midwest and the complex relationship between these neighboring states.

The Origins of Kansas City, Missouri

The modern-day Kansas City, Missouri traces its origin back to the 1830s when John McCoy founded the Westport settlement. McCoy established a trading post for pioneers on the Santa Fe Trail and developed Westport Landing, a riverboat landing connected to the settlement. In 1850, the Town Company was formed by a group of investors, leading to the incorporation of the Town of Kansas. Eventually, the area became the City of Kansas in 1853 and was renamed Kansas City in 1889. Westport, McCoy’s settlement, was annexed by Kansas City, Missouri, in 1897. The name “Kansas” was derived from the Kansas River, named after the Kansa Indians.

With its strategic location on the banks of the Missouri River and its connection to the Santa Fe Trail, Kansas City, Missouri quickly became a thriving center of trade and commerce. The city’s growth was further fueled by the development of railroads, which facilitated the transportation of goods and people.

The unique history of Kansas City, Missouri, shaped its character and contributed to its vibrant cultural heritage. Today, the city is known for its iconic landmarks, such as the Country Club Plaza, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and the vibrant jazz scene. It continues to be a hub of economic activity and a cultural centerpiece in the heart of the Midwest.

Settling Across the River: Kansas City, Kansas

While Kansas City, Missouri was establishing its place in history, settlements were also emerging on the other side of the Missouri River in Wyandotte County. This led to the incorporation of Kansas City, Kansas in 1872, with the aim of capitalizing on the success of its neighboring city, Kansas City, Missouri. The decision to name it “Kansas City” was likely a strategic move to attract visitors who believed they were traveling to the more prosperous Missouri counterpart.

Today, Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri remain separately incorporated cities but are part of the larger Kansas City Metropolitan area. Despite their shared name, these cities have developed their own unique identities and contribute to the cultural tapestry of the region.

Key Details:

  • Founding Date: 1872
  • Location: Wyandotte County, Kansas
  • Incorporation Status: Separate incorporation from Kansas City, Missouri
  • Relation to Neighboring Kansas City, Missouri: Part of the larger Kansas City Metropolitan area

Comparison of Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City, Kansas Kansas City, Missouri
Founding Date 1872 1830s
Location Wyandotte County, Kansas Jackson County, Missouri
Incorporation Status Separately incorporated city Separately incorporated city
Population Approximately 150,000 Approximately 500,000
Significant Attractions Wyandotte County Lake, Kansas Speedway Country Club Plaza, T-Mobile Center, Kansas City Chiefs, Kansas City Royals

As the table above illustrates, while Kansas City, Kansas was incorporated later than its counterpart in Missouri, it has established its own unique identity and offers a range of attractions and amenities. From the picturesque Wyandotte County Lake to the Kansas Speedway, the Kansas side of Kansas City has its own distinct charm.

Missouri’s Early Statehood and the Missouri Compromise

In 1821, Missouri achieved statehood after being formed out of the Missouri Territory. At that time, Missouri entered the Union as a slave state, reflecting the prevailing institution of slavery in the region. However, the westward spread of slavery was a matter of concern for both northern and southern states.

The Missouri Compromise, a significant agreement between these factions, aimed to address the issue of slavery’s expansion. According to the compromise, any state directly west of Missouri would be admitted as a free state, where slavery was prohibited.

This compromise played a pivotal role in shaping the state order in the region, paving the way for subsequent states to determine their stance on slavery. The Missouri Compromise demonstrated the ongoing struggle between free and slave states and foreshadowed the deep divides that would eventually lead to the American Civil War.

Year Event
1821 Missouri becomes a state
1820 Missouri Compromise
1787 Northwest Ordinance limits slavery north of the Ohio River

Bleeding Kansas and the Kansas-Nebraska Act

In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act provided residents of the Kansas Territory the unprecedented opportunity to determine the fate of slavery through democratic means. This act allowed the settlers to vote on whether slavery would be allowed in the territory, sparking a significant conflict known as Bleeding Kansas.

The residents of Kansas Territory were divided on the issue, and this led to a flood of pro-slavery and anti-slavery settlers into the region, each group hoping to sway the outcome of the vote. Many pro-slavery settlers from neighboring Missouri crossed the border to establish their interests, leading to significant tensions and violence between conflicting factions.

“Bleeding Kansas” witnessed bloodshed and brutal clashes as both sides fought to advance their respective viewpoints.

This turbulent period in Kansas history culminated in the establishment of a temporary pro-slavery government and the formation of a pro-slavery capital in Lecompton. However, the controversy surrounding this government and its policies only fueled the flames of conflict.

The turmoil of “Bleeding Kansas” set the stage for the larger national struggle over slavery, ultimately contributing to the eruption of the Civil War. This conflict highlighted the deep divisions and passionate convictions held by Americans on the issue of slavery.

Impact of “Bleeding Kansas”

The violence and political turmoil during the era of “Bleeding Kansas” demonstrated the intensity of the debate over slavery in the United States. It served as a precursor to the Civil War and illustrated the challenges faced by the nation in reconciling conflicting interests and values.

The events of “Bleeding Kansas” also brought national attention to the region, highlighting the fierce divisions between pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions. These tensions further solidified the resolve of both sides, ultimately shaping the outcome of the political struggle over the future of slavery in the United States.

Contentious Relations and Rivalry

The history of Kansas-Missouri relations has been marked by a long-standing rivalry known as the Border War. This rivalry originated from the turbulent period of Bleeding Kansas, a time of conflict and violence as both states fought over the issue of slavery. Even after Kansas achieved statehood and the war ended, the bitterness between the neighboring regions persisted, leaving a lasting impact on their relationship.

The contentious relations between Kansas and Missouri can be observed in various domains, including university athletics and economic competition. College sports teams from both states engage in fierce rivalries, sparking intense competition and passionate fan bases. This rivalry extends beyond the sports field and permeates into the cultural fabric, contributing to the ongoing tension between the two states.

The Border War rivalry between the University of Kansas Jayhawks and the University of Missouri Tigers is one of the most heated and storied rivalries in college athletics, showcasing the deep-rooted animosity that continues to define the relationship between Kansas and Missouri.

In addition to university athletics, economic competition plays a significant role in the strained relations between the two states. Kansas and Missouri often find themselves vying for economic growth and investment, creating a competitive atmosphere that further fuels the rivalry. Each state strives to attract businesses, tourists, and residents, aiming to establish itself as the more prosperous and desirable destination.

Economic Indicators Comparison

Kansas Missouri
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) $XXX billion $XXX billion
Unemployment Rate X.X% X.X%
Major Industries Agriculture, Aviation, Manufacturing Agriculture, Aerospace, Manufacturing

The table above provides a snapshot of the economic indicators for Kansas and Missouri. While both states have vibrant economies with diverse industries, the competition for economic supremacy between them remains fierce.

The Border War rivalry, university athletics rivalry, and economic competition between Kansas and Missouri all contribute to the complex and contentious relations between these neighboring states. Despite the challenges, it is important to recognize the historical significance and cultural impact of this ongoing rivalry, which has become an integral part of the identity of both Kansas and Missouri.

The Naming of Kansas City: Historical Perspective

Early residents of the Kansas City area drew inspiration from the Kanza Native American tribe, leading to the incorporation of Kansas City, Missouri in 1853, before Kansas became a state. The name “Kansas” itself is derived from the Kansas River, which was named after the Kansa Indians.

In an effort to attract visitors, the small towns surrounding present-day Kansas City, Kansas joined together and adopted the same name as the booming Kansas City, Missouri. By confusing visitors, they hoped to capitalize on the reputation and prosperity of their larger neighbor.

Interestingly, there were even attempts by Kansas politicians to annex the Missouri side of Kansas City into their state. This highlights the rivalry and competitiveness between the two cities during that time.

Kansas City Naming Origin

The naming of Kansas City reflects the rich history and complex dynamics between the two states. It is a testament to the ingenuity and ambition of early settlers who sought to establish their own identity and attract visitors to their region.

In summary, the history of Kansas City’s name is intertwined with the Kanza Native American tribe, confusing visitors to rival Kansas City, Kansas, and even attempted annexation of the Missouri side by Kansas politicians. These factors contribute to the unique historical perspective and ongoing rivalry between the two cities.

The Continued Distinction of Kansas City and Kansas City

Despite their shared name and sometimes contentious history, Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas have established distinct identities. Over the years, both cities and their suburbs have thrived in their unique ways, with Kansas City, Missouri often making headlines due to its cultural attractions such as the Chiefs, Royals, Westport, the Plaza, T-Mobile Center, and the World War I Museum. Each city has contributed to its own growth and development, defining themselves independently.

In Kansas City, Missouri, the Chiefs and the Royals have become iconic sports teams, drawing fans from across the country to their games. The Chiefs, Kansas City’s beloved football team, has a loyal following and has brought great pride to the city with their success in the NFL. Similarly, the Royals, Kansas City’s Major League Baseball team, has a rich history and has given fans memorable moments, including winning the World Series in 1985.

Not only known for its sports, Kansas City, Missouri is also recognized for its vibrant cultural scene. Westport, a historic district within the city, is a hub of entertainment, nightlife, and unique shops. The Country Club Plaza, a popular shopping and dining district, offers visitors a variety of upscale boutiques and restaurants. Additionally, the T-Mobile Center hosts major concerts and events, attracting world-renowned performers and entertainers.

The World War I Museum, situated in Kansas City, Missouri, stands as a powerful testament to the city’s historical significance. It is the only American museum solely dedicated to preserving the history of World War I and has been recognized as one of the top museums in the world.

On the other side of the state line, Kansas City, Kansas has also seen its own development and growth. While it may not boast the same level of national recognition as its Missouri counterpart, the city has its own unique characteristics that make it distinct.

Kansas City, Kansas is home to the Kansas Speedway, an internationally renowned racetrack that hosts NASCAR events. The speedway attracts racing enthusiasts from around the country, adding to the city’s appeal as a tourist destination.

Furthermore, Kansas City, Kansas provides a gateway to natural beauty, with nearby attractions such as the Wyandotte County Lake Park and the Kansas River. These picturesque locations offer opportunities for outdoor activities and provide residents with a tranquil escape from city life.

Both Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas have experienced independent development, shaping their own destinies and embracing their unique attributes. The diversity of offerings in each city showcases the rich cultural heritage and contributions they have made to the region and the country as a whole.

Exploring the Historical Timeline: Missouri vs. Kansas

When examining the historical timeline, it becomes clear that Missouri and Kansas have distinct founding dates. Missouri achieved statehood in 1821, while Kansas became a state in 1861. This chronological difference establishes that Missouri was founded first in terms of statehood. However, it is important to note that both states have unique histories that deserve recognition and exploration.

Here is a comparison of the founding dates for Missouri and Kansas:

State Founding Date
Missouri 1821
Kansas 1861

As we can see, Missouri predates Kansas by several decades in terms of statehood. This founding date comparison offers valuable historical context and helps us understand the order in which these states were established. However, it is essential to acknowledge that the significance of each state’s history extends beyond their respective founding dates.

Exploring the Historical Significance

Although Missouri came first in terms of statehood, both Missouri and Kansas have played vital roles in shaping American history. Missouri’s early statehood and the Missouri Compromise were influential factors in the westward spread of slavery and the subsequent tensions leading to the American Civil War.

On the other hand, Kansas witnessed the turbulence of “Bleeding Kansas” and became a hotbed for the debate over slavery. It ultimately entered the Union as a free state following the Civil War, leaving a lasting impact on the nation’s history.

By delving into the historical timeline of Missouri and Kansas, we gain a deeper understanding of their unique contributions to the nation’s development and appreciate the complexities of their shared Midwest heritage.

Comparing Missouri and Kansas: A Historical Journey

When exploring the histories of Missouri and Kansas, it becomes clear that both states possess a rich cultural heritage and have made significant contributions to American history. While they share geographic proximity, each state has its own unique story, shaping the region’s development in distinct ways.

Missouri, as the “Show Me State,” boasts a diverse cultural landscape deeply rooted in Native American history and influenced by European exploration and settlement. Known for its vibrant music scene, Missouri has given birth to iconic genres such as jazz, blues, and ragtime, making it an important hub for American music history. Additionally, the state’s role in the westward expansion, including the completion of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, symbolizes its significance in shaping American progress.

Kansas, on the other hand, is renowned for its pioneering spirit and its pivotal role in the abolitionist movement during the tumultuous times leading up to the Civil War. The state’s history is intertwined with the conflict of Bleeding Kansas, a term used to describe the violent clashes between pro-slavery and anti-slavery forces. This period of unrest ultimately played a significant role in shaping the nation’s political landscape and contributed to the coming of the Civil War.

Both states have made substantial contributions in various fields. Missouri takes pride in its literary heritage, boasting renowned authors such as Mark Twain and Langston Hughes, whose works have left an indelible mark on American literature. Kansas, on the other hand, is known for its agricultural innovation and the pioneering spirit of its farmers, who, through their dedication and hard work, transformed the state’s vast prairies into prosperous farmlands.

“Missouri and Kansas are two states whose histories are deeply intertwined, yet they have distinct stories that highlight the diverse fabric of the Midwest. Exploring their similarities and differences provides a greater understanding of the cultural tapestry that makes this region unique.”

By comparing Missouri and Kansas, it becomes evident that both states have played pivotal roles in American history, contributing to the nation’s development in their own distinct ways. Understanding their shared past and appreciating their individual contributions allows us to delve deeper into the rich tapestry of the Midwest and the nation as a whole.


After exploring the origins and historical timelines of Missouri and Kansas, it is evident that Missouri was founded before Kansas. Missouri achieved statehood in 1821, while Kansas became a state in 1861. This chronological difference solidifies the fact that Missouri was established earlier.

However, it is crucial to recognize that both states possess unique histories and have played significant roles in shaping the nation. Missouri and Kansas have contributed to the cultural heritage and development of the Midwest. Understanding the stories of these neighboring states provides valuable insights into the complexities and relationships within American history.

While determining the order of state founding is essential, it is equally important to appreciate the rich contributions and historical significance of both Missouri and Kansas. The Midwest region owes much of its development to these two states, each with its own unique narrative and cultural impact.


Which state, Missouri or Kansas, was founded first?

Missouri was founded as a state in 1821, while Kansas achieved statehood in 1861.

What is the historical timeline of Missouri and Kansas?

Missouri became a state in 1821, and Kansas achieved statehood in 1861.

What is the order of Missouri and Kansas in terms of statehood?

Missouri was founded first, becoming a state in 1821, while Kansas achieved statehood in 1861.

How do Missouri and Kansas compare historically?

Both Missouri and Kansas have rich histories and have made valuable contributions to the nation.

What was the Missouri-Kansas border war?

The Missouri-Kansas border war refers to the violent conflicts and tensions that arose between the bordering regions of Missouri and Kansas during the mid-19th century.

What was Bleeding Kansas?

Bleeding Kansas was a period of violent conflict and political strife in the Kansas Territory between pro-slavery and anti-slavery settlers. It played a significant role in shaping the state’s history.

What influenced the name “Kansas City” for both Missouri and Kansas?

The name “Kansas City” was adopted by small towns around present-day Kansas City, Kansas in an attempt to attract visitors and create confusion with the more prosperous Kansas City, Missouri.

Is there still rivalry between Missouri and Kansas?

Yes, there are remnants of rivalry between Missouri and Kansas, seen in various aspects like university athletics and economic competition.

How are Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas distinct?

Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas have developed distinct identities, with each contributing to its own growth and development.

What is the significance of the Missouri Compromise in relation to Missouri?

The Missouri Compromise was an agreement between northern and southern states that played a significant role in determining the spread of slavery. It shaped Missouri’s status as a slave state and influenced the state order in the region.

How did the Kansas-Nebraska Act impact Kansas?

The Kansas-Nebraska Act granted residents of the Kansas Territory the right to vote on the issue of slavery, leading to an influx of settlers and violent conflicts that ultimately resulted in Kansas becoming a free state.

How did the naming of Kansas City reflect the historical perspective?

The naming of Kansas City, Kansas was influenced by the Kanza Native American tribe, while the adoption of the same name by surrounding towns in Kansas was an attempt to confuse visitors and attract attention.

What is the conclusion regarding which state, Missouri or Kansas, was founded first?

Missouri was founded before Kansas, becoming a state in 1821 compared to Kansas achieving statehood in 1861.

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