How did Missouri get the nickname of the 'Show Me' state?

The Show Me State: This most widely recognized nickname for Missouri was in use in the late 1890s. It's not known exactly where or how this nickname orginated.

The most popular story regarding this nickname revolves around remarks made by United States Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver who served as a member of the U.S. House Committee on Naval Affairs. Mr. Vandiver, a scholar, writer and lecturer with a passing resemblance to Mark Twain, was speaking to Philadelphia's Five O'Clock Club. Questioning the accuracy of an earlier speaker's remarks he concluded "I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me."

Another story is that the nickname originated as a derogatory reference to Missouri miners working in Leadville, Colorado. During the Colorado miner's strike, men from Joplin, Missouri were brought in to work the mines. It is said that the Missouri workers, unfamiliar with Colorado mining methods, required frequent instructions from the pit bosses. "That man is from Missouri. You'll have to show him."

Another legend indicates that the name originated on passenger trains. Around 1897, hundreds of free train passes were given to Missouri legislators. The conductors, when told that a free pass was being used, would say "You've got to show me."

Yet another story centers around soldiers stationed at Chickamauga Park in Tennessee in 1898 at the start of the Spanish-American War. It is said that the gate guards were from St. Louis, Missouri and that any soldier wanting to leave the encampment to go to town was required to "show" the guards a pass.

Regardless of its origin, the nickname has stuck and can be found on Missouri license plates. It has come to represent Missourians as stalwart, perhaps somewhat stubborn and with a dedication to common sense.

Source: NETSTATE