JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — A crowd gathered Saturday in Jefferson City to celebrate the state’s bicentennial, with a World War II nurse leading the parade.
Edith Harrington, 98, waved to the crowd from a military jeep, followed by about 100 entries that highlighted the history of the Show-Me state. Harrington, who lives in Macon, Mo., joined the United States Cadet Nurse Corps in 1943.
The festivities also marked the election of state officeholders in 2020, whose traditional inauguration events were delayed because of the coronavirus.
Missouri turned 200 years old in August. Territorial residents first sought statehood in 1818, but the request became bogged down in Congress by a dispute over whether slavery should be allowed.
In March 1820, President James Monroe signed legislation known as the Missouri Compromise. Maine was allowed into the union as a free state. Missouri was allowed to draft a constitution as a slave state, so long as no other new slave states formed north of Missouri’s southern border.
Missourians thought they had become a state, but the parties were premature.
Missouri’s first constitution, which sought to exclude free “Negros or mulattoes” from the state, prompted further opposition in Congress.
After a second compromise, Monroe signed legislation finally making Missouri the 24th state on Aug. 10, 1821.