Missouri’s Constitution is Ratified by Voters: February 27, 1945

Missouri Capitol Building
Jimmy Emerson

Missouri’s fourth and current constitution was ratified on this date in 1945. The need for a new constitution arose from various factors, including demographic shifts, economic changes, and the perceived influence of corrupt machine politics on the state. The previous constitution, adopted in 1875, was seen as outdated and no longer reflective of the state’s priorities and challenges.

The process of drafting the new constitution began in 1943 when a constitutional convention was called to order. Although Missouri had previously only had three constitutions, this would be our state’s sixth constitutional convention. The convention was held in Jefferson City, the state capital, and brought together delegates from across Missouri. These delegates were tasked with reviewing the existing constitution, considering amendments, and drafting a new document that would better serve the state’s needs.

The drafting process was thorough and deliberative, with delegates examining each article and section of the proposed constitution. They debated issues such as the structure of the state government, the balance of powers, and the rights and responsibilities of citizens. The convention also sought input from legal experts, civic leaders, and the general public to ensure that the new constitution would be comprehensive and representative.

In 1944, after months of deliberation, the convention completed its work, and the proposed constitution was put to a vote. In 1945, Missouri voters were asked to approve or reject the new document in a statewide referendum. The referendum was held on February 27, 1945, and the proposed constitution was ratified by a significant majority of voters.

The ratification of Missouri’s fourth constitution marked a significant moment in the state’s history. It provided a modern framework for governance, reflecting the contemporary needs and aspirations of Missourians. Since its adoption, the constitution has been amended over 100 times. An automatic provision in the constitution also gives voters to option to call for another constitutional convention by ballot referendum every 20 years. The last such referendum was taken in 2022 and the next will appear in 2042, but so far none have passed.