Show Me - Update: Missourians Were Difficult to Convince Even Before They Had to Be Shown
As discussed in my earlier post, Show Me the Tunnel, the phrase “show me” has been associated with the state of Missouri since at least as early as October, 1894. A couple references from the years leading up to 1894, however, suggest that Missourians may have had a reputation for being difficult to convince even before the phrase “show me” came into common use:
The Chilean affair has shown the need that may arise at any moment for well-equipped vessels of war, and the paltry figure we cut in China should convince even a Missouri Senator of our need of a navy of modern ships of war. – [San Francisco Chronicle].
The Pacific Commercial Advertiser (Honolulu, Hawaiian), October 9, 1891, page 2, column 2.
Some Timber Strength Tests. – It would be difficult to convince the average man, especially the Missouri pioneer, that fir is a stronger wood than oak, but such has been proven by actual tests that were made by a fair and impartial committee appointed for that purpose.
The Charlotte Democrat (Charlotte, North Carolina), December 22, 1893, page 4, column 2.
It is possible, I suppose, that these two references may be merely coincidental. Perhaps a particular Missouri Senator was unconvinced of the need for warships? Perhaps Missouri pioneers were particularly fond of oak? I do not know.
It is interesting, however, that in both cases, the difficulty of convincing a Missourian is mentioned in an off-hand manner, without explanation, as though the difficulty of convincing Missourians was a well-established, commonly understood characteristic. The fact that the comments were made without resort to the phrase, “show me,” suggests that the phrase had not yet been coined, or at least was not yet widely known, even though the sentiment expressed by the phrase may already have developed.
But it does raise the question; when, how and why did Missourians develop their reputation?
Do you know?