Independence is the fourth-largest city in the U.S. state of Missouri. Most of Independence lies within Jackson County, of which it is the county seat, although a small portion of the city lies in Clay County. Independence is a satellite city of Kansas City, Missouri, and is part of the Kansas City metropolitan area. In 2010, Independence had a total population of 116,830
Independence is known as the "Queen City of the Trails" because it was a point of departure of the California, Oregon and Santa Fe Trails. Independence is also noted as the hometown of President Harry S. Truman; the Truman Presidential Library and Museum is located in the city, and Truman and First Lady Bess Truman are buried here.
Independence played in important role in the early history of the Latter Day Saint movement, and is home to the international headquarters of several Latter Day Saint denominations, most notably the Community of Christ (formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), whose Temple is located there. Other Latter Day Saint denominations headquartered in the city include the Church of Christ (Temple Lot) and the Church of Jesus Christ (Cutlerite), among others. A number of Restoration Branches are also located in and around Independence, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints maintains a visitor's center in the town.
Independence was originally inhabited by Missouri and Osage Indians, followed by the Spanish and a brief French tenure. It became part of the United States with the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Lewis and Clark recorded in their journals that they stopped in 1804 to pick plums, raspberries, and wild apples at a site that would later form part of the city.
Independence was founded on March 29, 1827, and quickly became an important frontier town. Independence was the farthest point westward on the Missouri River where steamboats or other cargo vessels could travel, due to the convergence of the Kansas River with the Missouri River approximately six miles west of town, near the current Kansas-Missouri border. Independence immediately became a jumping-off point for the emerging fur trade, accommodating merchants and adventurers beginning the long trek westward on the Santa Fe Trail.
In 1831, members of the Latter Day Saint movement began moving to the Jackson County, Missouri area. Shortly thereafter, founder Joseph Smith, Jr. declared a spot west of the Courthouse Square to be the place for his prophesied temple of the New Jerusalem, in expectation of the Second Coming of Christ. Tension grew with local Missourians until the Latter Day Saints were driven from the area in 1833, the beginning of a conflict which culminated in the 1838 Mormon War. Several branches of this movement gradually returned to the city beginning in 1867, with many making their headquarters there. These include the Community of Christ (formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), the Church of Christ (Temple Lot) and the Restoration Branches.
Independence saw great prosperity from the late 1830s through the mid-1840s, while the business of outfitting pioneers boomed. Between 1848 and 1868, it was a hub of the California Trail. On March 8, 1849, the Missouri General Assembly granted a home-rule charter to the town and on July 18, 1849, William McCoy was elected as its first mayor. In the mid-19th century an Act of the United States Congress defined Independence as the start of the Oregon Trail.
United States President Harry S. Truman grew up in Independence, and in 1922 was elected judge of the county Court of Jackson County, Missouri (an administrative, not judicial, post). Although he was defeated for reelection in 1924, he won back the office in 1926 and was reelected in 1930. Truman performed his duties diligently, and won personal acclaim for several popular public works projects, including an extensive series of fine roads for the growing use of automobiles, the building of a new County Court building in Independence, and a series of 12 Madonna of the Trail monuments to pioneer women dedicated across the country in 1928 and 1929. He would later return to the city after two terms as President. His wife, First Lady Bess Truman, was born and raised in Independence, and both are buried there. The Harry S. Truman National Historic Site (Truman's home) and the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum are both located in Independence, as is one of Truman's boyhood residences.
Independence continues to be of great importance to the Latter Day Saint movement and is the headquarters of the Community of Christ, the second-largest denomination in the Latter Day Saint movement. This church has built a temple in Independence, and also maintains a large auditorium and other buildings nearby. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints operates a sizable visitors' center adjacent to the Community of Christ Temple, which is located directly across the street from the original Temple Lot designated by Joseph Smith in 1830. The Lot itself is occupied by a small white-frame church building that serves as the headquarters and local meeting house for the Church of Christ (Temple Lot).