Missouri 4th District
Missouri was the first state settled west of the Mississippi, and the folks who settled it were a picture of pioneer diversity. Virginians and other Southerners made their way to counties north of the Missouri River, while Germans settled around the small capital, Jefferson City. A taste of that diversity can be found in the Capitol, with its mural by Thomas Hart Benton, great-grandnephew of one of Missouri’s first senators, who championed hard money and westward expansion for 30 years and lost his seat for opposing the expansion of slavery. The painting depicts dance hall girls, black coal miners, and a mother diapering an infant.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 4th Congressional District occupies central west Missouri. It includes part of Blue Springs and Oak Grove in Jackson County east of Kansas City, but the overall atmosphere here is rural and small-town. The rural counties around Kansas City were full of pro-slavery “bushwhackers” who rode across the Kansas line to thwart the anti-slavery Yankee “jayhawkers,” and these areas today vote Democratic. The German area around Jefferson City was anti-slavery and remains among the most Republican parts of Missouri. The growing year-round resort areas around the man-made Lake of the Ozarks are mixed. The southern portion of the district, near Springfield, is predominantly Republican. There are two big military bases here: Fort Leonard Wood in Pulaski County, where Marines, sailors, and airmen train in joint exercises with Army troops; and Whiteman Air Force Base, near Knob Noster in Johnson County, from which the 21 original B-2 bombers flew to drop precision-targeted bombs in Afghanistan.
This is Harry Truman country. President Truman was born in Barton County, at the southern end of the district, and lived in Independence, a few miles from Blue Springs. He spent much of Election Night 1948, when just about everyone thought he would lose, in Excelsior Springs. In his long life, Truman spanned the gaps between country and city, South and North. His mother could remember her house being attacked by Yankee soldiers, and she remained pro-Confederate even when her son was in the White House. He got his political start in urban Independence and Kansas City and desegregated the military services.