Tag Archives: claiborne jackson

The Emancipation Proclamation and Missouri

Ear­li­er we tweet­ed this:

We felt this could use a lit­tle con­text. This is an admit­ted­ly abbre­vi­at­ed ver­sion of things just to give you a bet­ter idea of why Mis­souri slaves weren’t freed in Lin­col­n’s 1863 Eman­ci­pa­tion Procla­ma­tion. Through­out Civ­il War his­to­ry, Mis­souri had been the ulti­mate cross­roads with­in the coun­try, both cul­tur­al­ly and phys­i­cal­ly. As evi­denced by the bat­tles (1,200, only two oth­er states had more) and  gen­er­al dis­con­tent through­out the state, Mis­souri was a micro­cosm of the events hap­pen­ing in the Unit­ed States.

Let’s go back about 40 years before the Civ­il War even start­ed to see some of the roots of Mis­souri’s unique place in the Union. Per the Mis­souri Com­pro­mise of 1820,  no state north of our south­ern bor­der (36º 30′) could have slaves except for Mis­souri itself. Ter­ri­to­ries west of Mis­souri were to be free. Con­fus­ing? Yes.  So even then, Mis­souri was an unusu­al geo­graph­ic area in the Union. (The Kansas-Nebras­ka Act of 1854 repealed most of the pro­vi­sions, which would allow each ter­ri­to­ry to decide the issue of slav­ery through Pop­u­lar Sov­er­eign­ty. Sad­ly, one of the results was Bleed­ing Kansas.)

Dur­ing the Civ­il War, Mis­souri was Union, but just bare­ly. The leg­is­la­ture did­n’t want to nec­es­sar­i­ly join the south, but they did­n’t want the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment impos­ing on the state, either. In June of 1861, Union troops oust­ed south­ern-sym­pa­thiz­ing Gov­er­nor Clai­borne Jack­son. His deposed gov­ern­ment reassem­bled in Neosho, MO, and they vot­ed to secede from the Union that Octo­ber. How­ev­er, this “rump” leg­is­la­ture had no offi­cial pow­er, but they did have votes in the Con­fed­er­ate Con­gress. Mean­while, for­mer Mis­souri Supreme Court judge (and the Camp­bells’ Lucas Place neigh­bor), Hamil­ton Gam­ble, was appoint­ed the pro­vi­sion­al gov­er­nor of the state. As request­ed by Pres­i­dent Lin­coln, he pro­vid­ed troops for the Union.

Decem­ber 17, 1861 loy­al­ty oath signed by Robert Camp­bell. (Click on it for a larg­er view.)

Abra­ham Lin­col­n’s 1863 Eman­ci­pa­tion Procla­ma­tion only freed the slaves in the ten rebelling states, and Mis­souri was not one of them. The Eman­ci­pa­tion Procla­ma­tion did not out­law the prac­tice of slav­ery; it was a neces­si­ty of war. As Union troops began to occu­py the South, they did­n’t know what to do with the enslaved peo­ple. Were they con­tra­band? Were they free? As you can imag­ine, the procla­ma­tion was con­tro­ver­sial. Accord­ing to the 1857 Supreme Court deci­sion of the Dred Scott case, the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment did not have the author­i­ty to reg­u­late slav­ery in the ter­ri­to­ries, so that was prob­lem­at­ic. Abo­li­tion­ists want­ed a dec­la­ra­tion free­ing all the slaves instead of just the slaves in the rebelling states. Slave own­ers were less-than-pleased because they did­n’t receive any com­pen­sa­tion. In short, pret­ty much nobody was happy.

As a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the greater coun­try, Mis­souri was full of infight­ing and fac­tions, as evi­denced by the pro­vi­sion­al leg­is­la­ture and the com­pet­ing rump leg­is­la­ture. The peo­ple were just as split with the St. Louis area har­bor­ing more pro-Union sen­ti­ment than else­where in the state. (Case in point: Through a gov­er­nor-appoint­ed police board, Jef­fer­son City “man­aged” St. Louis’ police force so they could remote­ly exert their influ­ence on the city. Today, 150 years after the Civ­il War, this is still the case.)

As an exam­ple of the divi­sive sen­ti­ment that per­vad­ed the Mis­souri, Robert had to sign many loy­al­ty oaths, like the one pic­tured above. Robert’s busi­ness suf­fered because he had a hard time col­lect­ing mon­ey from his cus­tomers, and dai­ly oper­a­tions were often inter­rupt­ed because of troop occu­pa­tion in the city and along trade routes, among oth­er things.  Mean­while at home, the route of the infa­mous march of troops to the arse­nal dur­ing the Camp Jack­son Affair went right behind Camp­bell House on Olive Street.

But back to the slav­ery issue. The Thir­teenth Amend­ment ulti­mate­ly out­lawed the prac­tice of slav­ery on a nation­al lev­el when it was rat­i­fied by Geor­gia in Decem­ber of 1865.