Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

The Southern States of America
Chapter III - History of Missouri - Missouri, 1820 - 1865

Admission into Union as a State.

Missouri was the most richly dowered territory that ever knocked at the doors of Congress for admission into the Union. "Child of the Storm" is a sobriquet that might aptly be applied to her; for when John Scott, delegate from Missouri, in the early days of 1819, called up his resolution in the nature of an "Enabling Act" that awful storm concerning slavery burst upon the country, which raged with intermittent fury till Appomattox closed the bloodiest chapter in the Book of Time. The chances are that could Mr. Tallmadge of New York have looked down the vista of years and seen all the blood shed in that titanic struggle he never would have proposed to amend Delegate Scott's Enabling Act for Missouri with these portentous words:

"That the further introduction of slavery or involuntary servitude shall be prohibited, except for the punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been fully convicted; and that all children born within the state after the admission thereof shall be free at the age of twenty-five years."

What motive animated him we cannot know. It may have been a genuine horror of African slavery. It may have been ambition to see his name in print. It may have been to gain a political advantage for his section. It may have been and probably was a mixture of all three. Those forty-seven words are all that snatch his name from oblivion. He was like a child handling high explosives recklessly and finds his proper place in the class with the ambitious youth who fired the Ephesian Dome. Truly did Thomas Jefferson, then in retirement at Monticello, exclaim: "The Missouri controversy sounds like a fire-bell at midnight!"

That mythical and intangible thing called "the balance of power" has caused most of the wars which have devastated Europe since the dawn of history; and, philosophically considered, it must be concluded by the unprejudiced student that the Missouri controversy was much more a struggle between the North and South touching the "balance of power" than it was a matter of conscience. A few incontestable facts will establish this proposition:

1. "When Congress met in 1817, there were ten free states and nine slave states in the Union.

2. States were usually admitted in pairs, one free, the other slave, so as to maintain the status quo ante. As some statesman, nameless here forevermore, said at a subsequent period, "Every time a white baby is born, a black one is born to match it." So in 1818 both Illinois and Mississippi were admitted without a word of protest from any source whatsoever, though Mississippi came in as a slave state; but the status was not disturbed, leaving the free states with one majority. If in 1819 the Missouri controversy was a matter of conscience on the part of Mr. Tallmadge and his coadjutors, their consciences must have been sound asleep when Mississippi came in in 1818 — at least it so appears.

3. But, in 1819, when Alabama and Missouri applied for statehood, both with slavery, the Northern contingent raised a great hue and cry, not because their consciences were more active than in 1817, but because if both were admitted with slavery, then there would be a majority of one slave state and a slave state majority of two in the Senate, thereby transferring the balance of power in the Senate to the slave states, though it is impossible to tell what anybody thought they could do with it after they got it, as the free states had a large majority in the House. Hence the Tallmadge amendment with its long train of consequences.

4 These men who exploited their consciences with such vociferous volubility against Missouri agreed that Alabama might come in with slavery on the gauzy plea that when Georgia ceded Alabama she stipulated that when ready for statehood the latter should be admitted as a slave state, and it was so done. These queer and quibbling casuists, however, utterly ignored the fact that the treaty with Napoleon whereby we acquired the Louisiana Territory, of which Missouri is a part, guaranteed to the people of the territory the possession of their property, including slaves! Now, with slavery dead for lo these many years, we can reason about these things without passion, and to every fair-minded person it must be clear as crystal that the provisions of our treaty with France in favor of slavery were as binding as the stipulations with Georgia on the same subject. But because Missouri with slavery would make a majority of slave states, she was kept out, unconstitutionally and unlawfully, until Maine could be cut off from Massachusetts and admitted as a free state, to maintain the equilibrium in the Senate.

5. It should be borne steadily in mind that the Missouri controversy was not a moral but a political struggle — a fight for power and nothing else. It was not a question as to the evils of slavery, for, whatever may have come to pass subsequently, at that time the evils of that institution were as freely admitted by Southern leaders as by Northern leaders. In the constitutional convention, George Mason and James Madison, of Virginia, bitterly opposed the provision permitting the continuance of the African slave trade until 1808, and in Virginia's constitutional convention Thomas Jefferson presented the wisest and most elaborate plan of gradual emancipation ever devised by the wit of man — a plan which, if adopted, would have averted the crimson horrors of the war between the states. It must never be forgotten that the desire of Missouri to enter the Union with slavery was not a propaganda to extend the slave area; nobody appeared to be in favor of that then; for slavery was already established, in theory at least, in every square foot of the vast domain purchased from Napoleon for a song. Surely nobody will accuse John Qunicy Adams of being a pro-slavery advocate. On the contrary, by his congressional career after he quit the White House, by his great and successful fight for the Eight of Petition and his other performances, he probably did as much to abolish slavery as any other man that ever lived. Certainly his declaration as to the binding force of the clause in the treaty with France guaranteeing the right of slave property in the whole of the Louisiana Territory should be accepted at its full face value.

When Arkansas, a part of that territory, applied for admission with slavery in 1836, he was a representative in Congress and said, inter alia: "She is entitled to admission as a slave state by virtue of that article in the treaty for the acquisition of Louisiana which secures to the inhabitants of the ceded territories all the rights, privileges and immunities of the original citizens of the United States; and stipulates for their admission, conformably to that principle, into the Union. Louisiana was purchased country wherein slavery was the established law of the land. As Congress have not power in time of peace to abolish slavery in the original states of the Union, they are equally destitute in those parts of the territory ceded by France to the United States under the name of Louisiana, where slavery existed at the time of the acquisition. Arkansas, therefore, comes and has the right to come into the Union with her slaves and her slave laws. It is written in the bond, and however I may lament that it was so written, I must faithfully perform its obligations." So spoke John Quincy Adams within twelve years of the close of his long and conspicuous career. No man hated slavery more bitterly, but he was too jealous of his own mental integrity and of his own fame, and entertained too much respect for the sanctity of his oath of office to be induced to cast his lot with the agitators who were trying to violate our faith plighted to France in a solemn treaty. Of course, what he says about Arkansas applies with equal force to Missouri, and it is absolutely conclusive on the law of the case.

The debate on the Tallmadge amendment was long and exceedingly bitter. Southern men threatened a dissolution of the Union in 1818 and 1819, just as New Englanders threatened a dissolution of the Union in 1811 and 1812 if Louisiana were admitted. After three months of angry debate, the Tallmadge amendment was carried in the House; but in the Senate it was stricken out by a decided vote and the measure was returned to the House in the shape in which John Scott had introduced it originally. The House refused to concur in the Senate's action, and on March 4, 1819, the Fifteenth Congress adjourned sine die with Missouri still a territory. The great debate was then transferred to the stump and public press, where it raged till the Sixteenth Congress met in December, 1819.

At once the Missouri question was taken up in Congress; but, as Maine, a free state in embryo, was then knocking at the doors, the aspect of things had changed somewhat. The pro-slavery men declared that unless Missouri was admitted without restrictions as to slavery, Maine should not be admitted. After a furious debate, a deadlock ensued. Finally the peacemakers got in their work and a series of measures was agreed to, popularly known as the Missouri Compromise, but which should be denominated "The First Missouri Compromise," for there was a "Second Missouri Compromise," as we shall soon see.

The main features of this First Missouri Compromise were that the restriction as to slavery in Missouri was stricken out; Maine came in free; and slavery was to be prohibited in all the territory ceded by France to the United States, under the name of Louisiana, north of thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes north latitude — which is the south line of Missouri projected westward. While it was nowhere stated in the bill that Missouri was to come in with or without slavery, as she might choose, it was clearly understood, and if it had not been so understood, there would have been no compromise. Under my limitations as to space, I cannot prove that assertion here, but it is easily susceptible of proof.

Henry Clay receives credit for the First Missouri Compromise, and that fiction constitutes no insignificant part of his fame; but he is not entitled to it. Senator Jesse B. Thomas, of Illinois, suggested it and at first Clay was opposed to it; but the situation became so dangerous that he finally adopted it as his own and fought for it manfully. Perhaps it is not overstating the case to say that but for him it would never have been agreed to.

So, in the early part of 1820 the Enabling Act for Missouri was passed, and in the summer of that year she held a convention, adopted a constitution, held an election under that constitution for a full complement of state and county officers, elected a representative in Congress and two United States senators, nobody dreaming that there would be any objection to her admission, with or without slavery.

When Congress convened in December Missouri's delegate, John Scott, presented her constitution and moved her admission; then the storm burst forth once more. Her constitution provided for slavery. Tallmadge and his coadjutors could not with straight faces object to that, for that she could do so if she chose was thoroughly understood by everybody when the compromise was agreed to; but because Missouri had provided for slavery, Tallmadge and his coworkers were dissatisfied, notwithstanding they had gotten Maine into the Union as a free state as part of the compromise; consequently they seized on the clause in the Missouri constitution prohibiting free negroes and mulattoes from settling in the state as a pretext for keeping her out. This, too, notwithstanding the fact that certain free states had precisely the same provision in their constitution. Of course everybody knew that that was a mere pretext, and an exceedingly flimsy one, for keeping Missouri out, and that they dared not avow their real reason, which was that Missouri had elected to be a slave state. They were stopped by the Compromise from urging their real grounds of objection. The Southerners were outraged by this act of bad faith, feeling that they had been swindled in the Compromise. They were not mild in expressing their opinion that the Northerners had deliberately played a double game, and as a result of all the long wrangle the Senate voted to admit and the House voted against the admission — another deadlock. It was broken by the following procedure: Henry Clay offered a resolution to appoint a joint committee "to consider and report to the Senate and House respectively whether it be expedient or not to make provision for the admission of Missouri into the Union on the same footing as the original states, and if not, whether any other, and what provision, adapted to her actual condition, ought to be made by law." So ugly had the situation become that Clay's resolution passed both houses by large majorities. Clay was chairman of the committee. Then Clay borrowed an idea from Senator Eaton and made it his own forever in history by reporting a resolution admitting Missouri, provided the Missouri legislature "by a solemn public act" shall declare that the clause in her constitution relating to the immigration of free negroes and mulattoes into the state shall never be construed to authorize the passage of any law by which "any citizen of either of the states in this Union shall be excluded from the enjoyment of any of the privileges. and immunities" to which he is entitled under the constitution of the United States. It also provided that when the passage of the aforesaid "solemn public act" was certified to the President, he should issue his proclamation declaring that Missouri was duly admitted into the Union. The resolution passed the Senate, twenty-eight to fourteen, and the House, eighty-six to eighty-two.

That is the most preposterous legislative performance in all history, and all the participants knew it full well. The constitution of Missouri could be amended or changed only by a direct vote of the people and here were great statesmen engaged in the astounding mummery of pretending to believe that the legislature could change it! Henry Clay himself joked about it afterwards, and no wonder; but it perhaps postponed secession and civil war for forty years.

So the legislature of Missouri went through its portion of this stupendous farce, as did the President of the United States, James Monroe. On Aug. 10, 1821, he issued his proclamation declaring Missouri a state. This was the Second Missouri Compromise, of which Henry Clay gets the entire glory — in history. Poor Eaton, whose idea he borrowed, is left "to dumb forgetfulness a prey," just as Jesse B. Thomas was in the First Missouri Compromise. But in assenting under pressure to the demand of Congress, the Missouri legislature asserted vigorously its dissent to the assumed power of Congress.

In passing, it may be interesting to remember that in 1861, the anniversary of Missouri's birthday, August 10, was made memorable by one of the bloodiest battles of the war, which took place on her soil at Wilson's Creek, where Missourians fought Missourians with the proverbial fury of a family feud. Strange to relate, after this startling struggle as to Missouri's admission, the controversy as to the extension of slavery quieted down and was little heard of for two decades. In 1836 the Platte Purchase, which constitutes one of the richest agricultural congressional districts in America, and which had been solemnly dedicated to freedom forever by the First Missouri Compromise, was by act of Congress added to Missouri, thereby becoming slave territory without a contest and without creating even a ripple of excitement! — another proof, if any were needed, that the effort on the part of the Northern contingent in Congress to keep Missouri out of the Union unless she came in as a free state was a struggle as to the balance of power and not a struggle for a moral principle.

All the world now knows two things touching this controversy: (1) The First Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional, having been so declared by the Supreme Court of the United States in the celebrated Dred Scott decision; (2) That in that Compromise the South yielded everything and gained nothing.

I have dwelt at length on this widely bruited transaction because it constituted the crux of the slavery controversy and when the South submitted to the First Missouri Compromise she lost everything touching that subject.

The most astounding fact in that connection is that President Monroe, entertaining doubts as to the constitutionality of the Compromise, submitted that question to his cabinet, in which John C. Calhoun was secretary of war, and it was held to be constitutional, the great South Carolinian consenting. Till the day of his death he seems never to have attached much importance to the First Missouri Compromise — though it was the beginning of the end of slavery on this continent.

Missouri's position as a slave state was one of extraordinary difficulty, for she was a slave peninsula jutting out into a free soil sea. The chances are that but for the controversy precipitated by Mr. Tallmadge, she would in a few years have adopted a scheme of gradual emancipation, but in 1819 the proposal by Congress to place a restriction upon her united her citizens as one man, because they one and all believed the proposed restriction unjust, unconstitutional, and violative of our treaty with France.

That they were thoroughly united as to their right to enter the Union without restrictions is shown by the fact that the convention was unanimous as to slavery, and among its delegates sat Edward Bates, a Virginian by birth, afterwards Abraham Lincoln's first attorney-general. There was then quite an anti-slavery sentiment in Missouri, inherited from Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina. It would probably have made itself manifest in the convention but for the Tallmadge amendment and the action of Congress thereon. This anti-slavery sentiment was so strong that, in 1828, prominent men, both Whigs and Democrats, including United States senators Benton and Barton, met secretly and agreed upon a plan whereby they hoped to secure the passage of a law providing for gradual emancipation. At a private meeting these leaders determined to urge all candidates of both parties at the ensuing election to declare for such a law, thus removing it from politics. Resolutions to that effect were adopted, which in due time were to be proposed to the people. From the high character and commanding influence of the men engaged in this enterprise, it looks as though they would have succeeded but for one of those strange accidents which puzzle even the philosophers. Just before these Democratic-Whig resolutions favoring gradual emancipation were to be published, another publication startled the country, a publication to the effect that Arthur Tappan, of New York, had entertained at his private table some negro men, and that these negro men had ridden in his private carriage with his daughters. "The fat was in the fire." Whether true or not, the Missourians believed it, and so great was the furore created thereby that those who attended the meeting aforesaid did not dare to publish them, and thus ended for a generation any organized movement for emancipation in Missouri, though the anti-slavery sentiment survived — not only survived, but grew year by year.

Thomas Hart Benton.

The first legislature of the state of Missouri, which convened in 1820, did two remarkable things. Having two United States senators to elect, it chose David Barton by unanimous vote — a performance equaled only once or twice in the history of American states. Being deadlocked as to the selection of the other senator, they asked David Barton to choose his senatorial yoke-fellow and he picked Col. Thomas Hart Benton, which was by long odds the most important act of his life. But the contest was so bitter that after Barton selected him it was with extreme difficulty and after several days spent in voting that Benton was elected. Missouri was entitled to a four-year term and a six-year term. Benton and Barton drew straws for the term, Benton getting the six-year term and thereby became the Czar of the fierce Democracy of Missouri for thirty years, or "six full Roman lustrums," as Benton boasted in his pompous way. Barton served ten years and quarreled with Andrew Jackson, which was the end of him.

The reason Missouri did not secede was Col. Thomas Hart Benton. He died in 1858, but verily his works did follow him. A North Carolinian by birth, reared in Tennessee, serving in her legislature and holding her commission as colonel in the beginning of the War of 1812, settling in Missouri in territorial days, sent by her to Congress for thirty-two years — thirty in the Senate and two in the House — he is the one colossal historical figure of the trans-Mississippi country prior to 1861. He absolutely dominated the politics of the state from the day of her admission until 1849, when he broke with her Democracy, not by the arts of the ordinary politician but by sheer force of intellect and character and by vast services rendered to the West. Named "The Great Missourian" by popular acclaim, as Henry Clay was "The Great Kentuckian," John C. Calhoun "The Great South Carolinian," and Daniel Webster "The Great New Englander," his constituents were intensely proud of him, but they never loved him, and therein lay his weakness when the final test came. He had no conception of the word fear — moral or physical, and an intenser Union man never lived.

He, like nearly all Missourians, was bitterly opposed to the restriction touching slavery which Congress attempted to force upon Missouri in 1819-21. A slaveholder himself, he believed slavery an evil, and while bravely combatting all efforts from the outside to interfere with slavery where it existed, he was opposed to its extension and fought "The Repeal of the Missouri Compromise" tooth and nail. He said:

"The incurability of the evil is the greatest objection to the extension of it. If it is wrong for the legislature to inflict an evil which can be cured, how much more to inflict one that is incurable and against the will of a people who are to endure it forever. I quarrel with no one for deeming slavery a blessing; I deem it an evil and would neither adopt it nor impose it upon others." "What to do with it where it existed", he said, was "beyond the reach of human wisdom; but there is a wisdom above human, and to that we must look. In the meantime, do not extend the evil.''

Those particular words were uttered late in life, but they constituted his creed as to slavery all his days. It is safe to state that in the early period that was also the creed of a very large majority of Missourians; but the constant efforts of Congress to legislate on the subject in the territories and in the District of Columbia irritated the Missourians, so that Benton came to be regarded as "unsound" on that question. Also a generation of able and ambitious young men had grown up who were weary of his Czardom. They determined to overthrow him and they did it after a series of battles royal which convulsed the state for seven years. His opposition to the manner of the annexation of Texas gave them their opportunity to open the war. The average Missourian wanted Texas annexed, no matter how, war or no war with Mexico, the war method rather preferred. Two feelings animated them, lust for land and a desire for revenge. There was scarcely a family in Missouri which had not lost a member on the bloody old Santa Fe trail, and when the murderous Indians were captured or killed there was generally found among them a Mexican in disguise who had led them on. So Benton was playing with fire when he picked flaws in the plan of annexation, notwithstanding he asserted, and asserted truly, that he was in favor of annexation; but his constituents were in no frame of mind to consider hair-splitting distinctions as to the modus operandi. The blood of their kinsmen cried out to them and all they wanted was a crack at the Mexicans. Consequently, when volunteers were called for, they rushed to the standards in double the numbers required or permitted and went to death as to a festival. So long as martial valor and military renown are prized among men the astounding marching and fighting of Gen. Alexander W. Doniphan and his Missourians will be told in story and chanted in song. In glory, in suffering, in achievements and in results it eclipsed the performance of Xenophon and his Ten Thousand, which has been acclaimed by the writers and orators of thirty centuries. As a consequence of his position as to Texas and his attitude as to slavery, the young Missourians tried to defeat Benton for his fifth term in 1845; but he was elected, though by a reduced majority. The revolt was on. In the meantime his hatred of John C. Calhoun had developed into a mania, and the opposition of the young Missourians instead of diminishing his imperious-ness actually augmented it. So, in 1849, aided by Benton's attitude on the California question, and relying on his egotism and belligerency to help them out, they determined to forever rid themselves of him. Therefore the legislature passed what are known as "The Jackson Resolutions," because they were reported by Senator Claiborne F. Jackson, subsequently governor, a native of Kentucky. Though as many men set up claims to their paternity as there were cities vaunting themselves as the birthplace of Homer, it is now generally conceded that they were written by William B. Napton, a judge of the Supreme Court and a native of New Jersey. In brief, they stated Calhoun's theory as to slavery and the Union. These resolutions were sent to senators Benton and Atchison with instructions to present them and urge their adoption. Atchison, who hated Benton intensely, obeyed them with alacrity, but Benton haughtily refused. On the contrary, he did precisely what his Missouri enemies believed and hoped he would do — he "appealed to the people" in a great and most vitriolic speech at Jefferson City in May, 1849, in which he smote all supporters of the Jackson Resolutions hip and thigh, and which set the state on fire and rent the Democratic party in twain. The slightest disposition on his part to conciliate or compromise would have given him the victory; but there were no such words as conciliation or compromise in his vocabulary. Even a reasonable view of the resolutions would have saved him; but he chose to take a most unreasonable view and went about like a roaring lion seeking whom he might devour, asseverating that the resolutions advocated secession, which by any fair construction they did not do, and denouncing the supporters thereof as traitors. His opponents repaid him in kind and it was war to the knife. The Democrats divided into Benton and anti-Benton factions, bitter as gall, while the Whigs stood aloof. The legislature elected in 1850 contained fifty-five Benton Democrats, thirty-eight anti-Benton Democrats and sixty-four Whigs. After a prolonged deadlock enough anti-Benton Democrats, led by Senator Robert M. Stewart, a New Yorker by birth, afterwards governor of Missouri, a staunch Union man, went over to the Whigs and elected Henry S. Geyer, the only Whig United States senator Missouri ever chose. Benton was defeated but undaunted. The war continued with constantly augmenting fury. From May, 1849, to the close of the polls in 1856, Benton was a candidate for senator thrice, for a seat in the Federal House of Representatives twice and for governor once, losing every race, except that he was elected to Congress in 1852. Of course he had to double up and run for two offices at once. So bitter was the struggle that the legislature elected in 1854 never did elect a United States senator, as it was in duty bound to do, so that Missouri was the first state to have only one United States senator for two years — a bad example frequently followed by other states. In 1856 Benton made his last effort to regain his lost power, running for both governor and senator. The legislature elected was largely anti-Benton, and in the race for governor he stood third in the poll, his Democratic rival, Trusten Polk, winning both the governorship and the senatorship. Benton, the grim old Indian fighter, went to his political death, doggedly, bravely and defiantly, the black flag waving above his romanesque head. Could he have read the Book of Fate he would have been happy, for the speeches he made from 1849 to 1856, both inclusive, created that Union sentiment in the state which in 1861 enabled Francis Preston Blair, Jr., and Benjamin Gratz Brown, Kentucky cousins of Virginia ancestry, aided by other Kentuckians and Virginians, to hold Missouri to the Union, thereby preventing secession from succeeding. Benton alive was beaten by his multitudinous foes; in the grave, Benton was victor. Col. James H. Birch truly and tersely sums up the awful Benton and anti-Benton feud in these words: "Benton forced his enemies to kill him in order that they might live!"

The Approach of War.

The repeal of the Missouri Compromise in 1854 was of intenser interest to Missouri than to any other state in the Union. If Kansas came in as a free state, Missouri would have free states on three sides, and her people believed that that situation would imperil slavery within her borders. So, backed by the Southern states, she determined if possible to bring Kansas in as a slave state and she sent her children in large numbers to that territory. The North in general, and New England in particular, determined to bring Kansas in as a free state. Hence the New England "Emigrant Aid Societies" which provided more Sharp's rifles than Bibles, and hence that border war in which grievous wrongs and many crimes were committed on both sides. The principal difference was that in those troublous and strenuous times most of the Missourians who went to Kansas showed their good faith as actual settlers by taking with them their wives, children, household goods, flocks, herds and implements of husbandry, while among the New England emigrants the men outnumbered the women and children ten to one. In fact, in one train, by actual count, there were 225 men and only five women, with abundant apparatus for camping and fighting, minus all material for home-building or home-making — sufficient evidence as to the relative bona fides of the two contending forces as permanent residents of Kansas. This bloody border war raged for five years, till it was merged in the greater and bloodier war which began in April, 1861.

Government of Missouri During the War.

While from the beginning many Missourians would have been glad to be rid of slavery, it may be safely stated that prior to the great German immigration following the Revolution of 1848, there was only a handful of Abolitionists in the entire state, for most of the people were Kentuckians, Virginians, Tennesseeans and North Carolinians and their descendants. Even the Gradual Emancipationists had no organization as a distinct party till 1848, when Francis Preston Blair, Jr., commonly called Frank Blair, and his cousin, B. Gratz Brown, organized and led a small party for Martin Van Buren, while Benton supported General Cass. In that instance the pupils outran the master, as they did again in 1856, when they supported Gen. John C. Fremont, a South Carolinian and Colonel Benton's son-in-law, while Benton himself supported Buchanan, chiefly on the ground that the Republican party was essentially sectional in character. The vote for Van Buren was pitifully small and the vote for Fremont, while larger, was still small, the increase being nearly all from the Germans who had settled in and about St. Louis. Even in 1860, of the 165,000 votes in Missouri for President, Lincoln received only 17,028, while Bell received 58,372, Breckinridge 31,317, Douglas 58,801. Though their numbers cannot be definitely ascertained, events seem to show that when Lincoln's election was an established fact the avowed secessionists in Missouri were not largely in excess of the Republicans.

As late as Feb. 18, 1861, when war seemed inevitable and after most of the cotton states had seceded, at an election held to select delegates to a convention to consider and decide Missouri's relation to the Federal government, she gave a majority of 80,000 for the Union, not one secessionist being returned as a delegate. At that time her population, politically considered, may be stated as follows: (1) An overwhelming majority were Union men, half "conditional," the other half "unconditional"; (2) Strange as it may appear to a rational being now, an overwhelming majority were for "armed neutrality," a thing absolutely preposterous in its nature, but it must be remembered that while the bulk of the people were for the Union, nine-tenths of them were of Southern blood, birth or lineage, hence they were torn by contending emotions; (3) A small number of out-and-out secessionists; (4) About the same number of Republicans.

On Jan. 3, 1861, the outgoing governor, Robert M. Stewart, a New Yorker, sent in his valedictory message in which he spoke forcefully of state rights, declared for "armed neutrality," denounced the North for the idea of a war for coercion and the South for secession, and wound up with a glowing panegyric on the Union, declaring that if war should come Missouri would adhere to the Union. In six months he was drumming up volunteers for the Union army, though he never did any fighting. On that same January 3, the incoming governor, Claiborne F. Jackson, delivered his inaugural. A Kentuckian by birth, a Virginian by descent, he did not mince words. Declaring his and Missouri's warm attachment to the Union, he denounced the Repub-lican party as sectional and dangerous, declared boldly against a war for coercion, and announced that if war should come, Missouri's proper place was with her sister states of the South. When the tug of war came he took command of the state troops, won the battle of Carthage and died in Arkansas in 1862.

Stewart's message and Jackson's inaugural fairly reflected the dominant feeling in Missouri, almost unanimous in the hope that war might be averted; divided if it came; mystified as to what would happen.

In this condition of uncertainty and perplexity the one factor which determined Missouri's status was Frank Blair, a Kentuckian, born and reared a Democrat of the Jackson-Benton school, subsequently a major-general commanding a corps in the Union army, a Democratic United States senator and a Democratic nominee for vice-president. He had no misgivings on the subject. With clear vision he saw the war for coercion and, while others were dawdling and hair-splitting, he prepared for his part in the bloody drama and made ready to force Missouri to fight for the Union. To him more than to all others was due the result of the election of Union delegates to the convention. In spite of the objections of his Republican friends, he made up the Union ticket for St. Louis county, including the City of St. Louis, as follows: seven Douglas men, three Bell men and four Lincoln men, and swept the county by 5,000 majority. He advised and secured like action throughout the state and his victory was overwhelming. At the same time he was converting the Lincoln Wide-Awake political clubs into military companies under reliable drill masters and arming them as rapidly as possible with money furnished him by friends in the North. So thoroughly was his work done that when in April, 1861, President Lincoln made his requisition on Governor Jackson for four regiments, which requisition Jackson scornfully refused to recognize, Blair immediately tendered ten full regiments which were promptly sworn into the service and thereby Missouri's fate was sealed. Part of these troops were armed with guns from the St. Louis arsenal, which contained 60,000 muskets with accoutrements and ammunition. Governor Jackson contemplated seizing the arsenal. Had he done so and armed his adherents there is no doubt he could have taken Missouri out of the Union; and he could have captured the arsenal by simply knocking on the door, for in January the commanding officer was one who would have been glad to turn it over to Jackson; but the governor delayed so long that it gave Blair time to persuade the Washington authorities to place the arsenal in charge of Capt. Nathaniel Lyon, subsequently a Union brigadier, who fell at Wilson's. Creek. Nothing but a fight to the death would have taken the arsenal from Lyon, and thus was Missouri and her vast resources lost to the South irrevocably in the war. Nearly 1,000 battles, great and small, were fought upon her soil; much of her territory was desolated by fire and sword, but while she furnished about 60,000 soldiers to the Confederate armies, she sent 109,000 into the service of the Union, thus sending to both armies more soldiers than she had voters in 1860. All this might have been reversed and could have been had Governor Jackson seized the arsenal with its 60,000 stands of arms, together with a vast quantity of the munitions of war and the machinery for making more.

As before stated, not one avowed secessionist was elected to the state convention; the policy of coercion soon drove several members into the Confederate army, among them Gen. Sterling Price, its president, who had been a representative in Congress, brigadier in the Mexican "War and governor of the state. He was the best beloved man in Missouri and had he been an original secessionist and had begun preparations for war as soon as Blair did, he might have taken Missouri into the Confederacy; but he was a "conditional Union man"; was elected president of the convention as such, and did not make up his mind to fight with the Confederates till Blair's tactics, political and military, had fixed Missouri on the Union side.

The convention soon usurped all governmental functions, legislative, judicial and executive; ousted all officers, state and county; openly disregarded statutes enacted by the legislature, and appointed one of its members, Hamilton E. Gamble, a Virginian, governor, and Willard P. Hall, another Virginian, lieutenant-governor, who on the death of Gamble early in 1864 succeeded to the governorship. They were both men of capacity and high character and did their best to prevent outrages on persons and property; but even they could not prevent countless crimes and untold misery. Shortly after the war began the Unionists divided into two hostile factions, Radicals and Moderates. Such men as Gamble and Hall led the moderates and President Lincoln, in a general way, sustained them, and fortunate for Missouri that he did.

In 1864 a mock election was held; soldiers swarmed at the polls, browbeating the voters so that only 101,937 votes were cast, whereas 165,000 were cast in 1860; Thomas C. Fletcher, Republican, the first native governor of Missouri, was elected; the Radicals had possession of all the governmental machinery; and then began a wild orgy which was a disgrace to modern civilization. In 1865 they adopted a constitution known as the "Drake Constitution," containing a "test oath" which ran counter to every principle of liberty and which disfranchised thousands of the best men in Missouri. In order to vote, sit on a jury, hold any office, teach, preach or perform any public or semi-public function, a man must swear that he not only did not fight in the Confederate army or in any way give aid and comfort to the Confederacy or to any Confederate, but that he had never sympathized with anybody in the Confederacy — an oath which few Missourians could take honestly. To do any of the things prohibited without taking the test oath was made a crime punishable by fine and imprisonment. Frank Blair, the creator of the Republican party in Missouri, a corps commander in the Union army, offered to vote. The election judges demanded that he take the test oath, which he refused to do, saying: "If I take that oath, I commit perjury. I fought four years to destroy the Confederacy and would fight four years more if necessary. I never sympathized with the Confederacy; but I did sympathize with my kin, my friends and neighbors who were in the Confederacy." The judges would not let him vote; he sued the judges to test the constitutionality of the test oath; the Radical Circuit and Supreme Courts of Missouri held it constitutional, but the Republican Supreme Court of the United States declared it unconstitutional and contrary to the genius of our institutions. Thousands of preachers and others were indicted and punished under that un-American test oath. General Blair, disgusted with such performances, left the Republican party and put the Democratic party of Missouri on its feet again and it has been dominant in the state ever since.

It will seem incredible to many that the Union leaders in Missouri were with only a few exceptions Kentuckians, Virginians, Tennesseeans and North Carolinians or their descendants. Frank Blair, B. Gratz Brown, United States senator, vice-presidential candidate; Gen. John B. Henderson, Col. James O. Broadhead, Major James S. Rollins, Gov. Hamilton B. Gamble, Gov. Willard P. Hall, Edward Bates, Lincoln's first attorney-general, Samuel T. Glover, John D. Coalter and Gen. Alexander W. Doniphan all belonged to that class, as did also most of the minor leaders. The secession leaders and those leaders who were not secessionists but who joined the Confederates because of the coercion policy of the Federal administration were of precisely the same class. At their head was Governor Jackson, whose spirit was as intrepid as Blair's, generals Price, Harris, Parsons, Slack, Clark, Marmaduke, Cockrell, Bowen, Green, Raines and Shelby, Col. Thomas L. Snead, Colonel Weightman, Lieutenant-Governor Thomas C. Reynolds, United States senators Polk and Johnson, Ex-United States senators Green and Atchison, the future United States senator George G. Vest, and nearly all the minor leaders came from the same states as the Union leaders or were descended from parents from those states. In many instances they were of the same blood. Consequently confusion worse confounded reigned in Missouri from the beginning to the end of hostilities.

Growth of Missouri 1820-1865.

Notwithstanding the difficult conditions prevailing in Missouri, she continued to grow constantly in population and wealth. Coming into the Union in 1821, the twenty-fourth state in wealth and population, in 1860 she had jumped to eighth place and was growing faster than ever before. That year her population was 1,182,000 and her taxable wealth was $501,214,398 — about two-fifths of her real wealth. She had an abundance of public buildings and public institutions of every kind. She had brought her educational system up to date and was in every way prospering greatly. Even the ravages of war and the wild extravagance, waste and thievery which succeeded it did not stop her growth. It scarcely retarded it. Had it not been for the war, there can be little doubt that this day Missouri, instead of being the fifth state in the Union in population, would be third. Even as it is she is in the race for the first place, her competitors for that post of honor being New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Texas.

Bibliography.— Barbé-Marbois: Histoire de la Louisiana (Paris,1829); Barns, C. R. and Switzler, Wm. F.: Commonwealth of Missouri (St. Louis, 1877); Benton, Thomas H.: Thirty Years' View (New York, 1856), and Abridgement of Debates in Congress from 1789 to 1856 (New York); Bevier R. S.: History of the First and Second Missouri Confederate Brigades, From Wakarusa to Appomattox (St. Louis, 1879); Billon, F. L.: Annals of St. Louis (St. Louis, 1886); Brackenridge, H. M.: Views of Louisiana (Pittsburgh, 1814), and Recollections of the West (Philadelphia, 1868); Brown, G. W.: Reminiscences of Old John Brown (Rockford, Ill., 1880); Carr, Lucien: Missouri (in Commonwealth Series); Cooke, P. St. George: Conquest of California and New Mexico (New York, 1878); Davis and Durrie: History of Missouri (Cincinnati, 1876); Darby, John F.: Recollections: Edwards, Richard and Hopewell, M.: The Great West (St. Louis, 1860); Flint, Timothy: Travels (Boston, 1826); Gayarré Charles: History of Louisiana (New Orleans, 1885); Hughes, John T.: Doniphan's Expedition (Cincinnati, 1848); Lunt, George: Origin of the Late War (New York, 1866); Margry, Pierre: Découverte de l'Amerique Septon-trionale (Paris); Martin, F. X.: History of Louisiana (New Orleans, 1827); Niles' Register; Parkman, Francis: Discovery of the Great West (Boston, 1869); Peckham: General Nathaniel Lyon (New York, 1866); Parton, James: Life of Andrew Jackson; Sanborn, F. B.: Life and Letters of John Brown (Boston, 1885); Scharf, J. T.: History of St. Louis (Philadelphia, 1883); Shea, John G.: Discovery and Exploration of the Mississippi (New York, 1852); Snead, Thomas L.: The Fight for Missouri (New York, 1886); Stoddard, Amos: Sketches of Louisiana (Philadelphia, 1812); Von Hoist: Constitutional History of the United States (Chicago); Wilkinson, James: Memoirs of My Own Times (Philadelphia, 1816); Winsor, Justin: (ed).: Narrative and Critical History of America (Boston); Buchanan's Administration (New York, 1866): Laws of the United States; Laws of Missouri; Official Records of the Rebellion ("Washington); Proceedings of Congress; Proceedings of the Legislature of Missouri; Proceedings of the Missouri State Conventions 1861 and 1865.

Champ Clark,
Member of Congress from Missouri.

Return to Book Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus