Skip to main content

Benton’s Missouri Mural

March 2023
1min read

Three of the four walls of the House lounge, on the third floor of Missouri’s splendid capitol in Jefferson City, present the mural painting that Thomas Hart Benton regards as his best work. The subject is, of course, the history and folklore of Missouri. Benton’s interpretation is generic for the most part : although some specific characters can be recognized (as in the panel over the door, above, showing Huck Finn and Jim on their Mississippi raft), the artist’s intention was to paint a series of typical Missouri scenes enacted by typical Missouri people. The style is mature Benton, strong in color and sinewy in line; he completed the work in 1936 when he had reached the height of his career. Not everybody liked it, however. “There were some State Representatives who thought the mural ought to be whitewashed off the wall after I had finished it,” Benton once said. “I figured that by the time they got the votes to do the whitewashing, they’d probably get to liking the mural. They did!” For additional views of the mural, plus other samples of Benton’s work, turn the page.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this 72-year tradition of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.


Stories published from "June 1973"

Authored by: Bernard A. Weisberger

A Legend in Her Time

Authored by: Elaine Kendall

The prevailing Colonial feeling toward female education was unanimously negative. Learning to read was the first feminist triumph.

Authored by: The Editors

Third in a series of paintings for AMERICAN HERITAGE BY DON TROIANI

Authored by: Bernard Asbell


Authored by: Richard M. Ketchum

Credited with shouting “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes!” at Bunker Hill, he was perhaps the most experienced general in the American army. But “Old Put” was not without his faults.

Authored by: The Editors

A visit to New York when it was little, not very old, and rather more attractive

Authored by: Roy Bongartz

Once upon a time a shy but persistent candymaker named Hershey dreamed of building his own utopia …

Authored by: The Editors

A careless America has lost or ignored most of its priceless collection of patent models. Sometimes exquisite,sometimes little more than toys, those that remain display in the inventors’ own handiwork the history of our technology

Authored by: Joseph E. Persico

The city panicked with fear of the Mafia when the police chief was murdered

Featured Articles

The world’s most prominent actress risked her career by standing up to one of Hollywood’s mega-studios, proving that behind the beauty was also a very savvy businesswoman. 

Rarely has the full story been told about how a famed botanist, a pioneering female journalist, and First Lady Helen Taft battled reluctant bureaucrats to bring Japanese cherry trees to Washington. 

Often thought to have been a weak president, Carter was strong-willed in doing what he thought was right, regardless of expediency or the political fallout.

Why have thousands of U.S. banks failed over the years? The answers are in our history and politics.

In his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln embodied leading in a time of polarization, political disagreement, and differing understandings of reality.