MISSOURI STATE SYMBOLS
Missourian Gen. John J. Pershing popularized the jumping jack exercise. The origin of the name of this exercise can be traced to wooden toys shaped like people (usually soldiers or jesters) that splayed their arms and legs when a string or stick was pulled. The toys were called “jumping jacks” or sometimes “dancing jacks.” Pershing animated the move using his own body and then used it as an official military exercise while he was instructing cadets at West Point. (It also helped that Pershing’s nickname was “Jack.”)
The exercise caught on, and is now a favorite activity for elementary school children across the nation. In fact, it was students at Pershing Elementary School in St. Joseph, Missouri who proposed that the jumping jack become Missouri’s official state exercise in 2014.
Revised Statutes of Missouri (RSMo)
§10.115. Official state exercise – jumping jacks. – The exercise commonly known and referred to as “jumping jacks”, which was invented by Missouri-born General John J. Pershing as a drill exercise for cadets when he was a tactical officer at West Point in the late 1800s, is selected for and shall be known as the official exercise of the state of Missouri. (L. 2014 H.B. 1603)
approved 10 July 2014
effective 28 August 2014
Click on an image below to enlarge and read a caption. This will open a new window in the Missouri State Symbols Flickr album.
Heffernan, Conor. “The History of the Jumping Jack.” Physical Culture Study, February 23, 2015. https://physicalculturestudy.com/2015/02/23/the-history-of-the-jumping-jack/
Pershing, John J. My Experiences in the World War. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Co., 1931.
Vandiver, Frank E. Black Jack: The Life and Times of John J. Pershing Volume 1. College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 1977.
Vandiver, Frank E. Black Jack: The Life and Times of John J. Pershing Volume 2. College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 1977.
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