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5 Fun Facts About April 19 In Missouri History

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1. The American Civil War fully arrived in Missouri: On April 19, 1861, a Missouri State Guard unit controlled by pro-secession Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson seized the St. Louis Arsenal, which contained over 39,000 rifles, muskets, carbines, and 1.6 million cartridges. The Union forces attempted to recapture the arsenal two days later, but they were heavily outnumbered, and General Nathaniel Lyon agreed to withdraw his forces to Illinois.

2. Missouri officially became a state: On April 19, 1820, President James Monroe signed the Missouri Compromise, which allowed Missouri to become a slave state, while Maine was admitted to the Union as a free state. The compromise also prohibited slavery in any new states created north of the 36° 30’ parallel, excluding Missouri.

3. A famous Missourian was born: Maya Angelou, the celebrated poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist, was born on April 19, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri. Angelou wrote many works, including "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," which received critical acclaim and became a best-seller.

4. The deadliest school disaster in U.S. history occurred: On April 19, 1928, a massive tornado struck the small town of Gainesville, Missouri, killing 36 people. The tornado also destroyed the town's only school, killing 38 of the 68 students who were inside at the time. It remains the deadliest school disaster in U.S. history.

5. The Gateway Arch was unveiled: On April 19, 1967, the iconic Gateway Arch in St. Louis was completed and unveiled to the public. Designed by architect Eero Saarinen, the arch stands at 630 feet tall and is the tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere. The arch is both a symbol of St. Louis and America's westward expansion.
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