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John H. Bothwell in front of the kitchen porch at the Bothwell Lodge in Sedalia, Missouri.

John H. Bothwell in front of the kitchen porch at the Bothwell Lodge in Sedalia, Missouri.

Courtesy of Rhonda Chalfant

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Show Me The State: Sedalia Tries To Steal The Capital

What would the state look like today if the capital wasn't Jefferson City? But Sedalia?

That almost happened 120 years ago. 

Sedalia champion John Bothwell was determined to make Sedalia a state institution and for 30 years he was relentless trying to make the town something more than the location of four railroads and premiere brothels. Ultimately, he makes a play for the biggest state institution in a surreptitious political maneuver that surprises everyone.

Picture this: Feb. 20, 1895. Under the cover of the early morning darkness, Sedalia residents quietly slipping off of a train into Jefferson City, invading the town to steal its most prized position. Jefferson City never knew what hit it.

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