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The fourth largest city in Missouri, Independence is the seat of government for Jackson County, and part of the Kansas City metropolitan region. The city is known as the Queen City of the Trails, as it was a point of departure for the California, Oregon and Santa Fe Trails. Independence was also the hometown of US President Harry S. Truman and his wife, Bess Truman, the actress Ginger Rogers. The city of Independence was founded in 1827, and named for the Declaration of Independence. Located near the convergence of the Kansas River with the Missouri River, Independence was the farthest point westward on the Missouri River where steamboats or other cargo vessels could travel. In 1831, Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church, declared a spot west of the Courthouse Square in Independence to be the place for the prophesied Temple of the New Jerusalem, which would be in place prior to the Second Coming of Christ. However, the Latter Day Saints were driven from the area in 1833, as a precursor to the 1838 Mormon War. Branches of the Mormon Church returned to the city beginning in 1867, some making their headquarters there. Independence became a home-rule city in 1849. Two significant Civil War Battles took place in Independence. The first was in August of 1862, Confederate troops took control of the town, and the second, in October of 1864, also resulted in a Confederate victory. Independence was badly damaged during the war, and was never able to regain its previous position of prosperity, with nearby Kansas City becoming the dominant center of commerce.


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