Strengthening Missouri's Historical Roots

Saturday, December 6, 2008
Claiborne Fox Jackson. Missouri Governor who led state into secession following the St. Louis Massacre and the overthrow of the State Capitol by German Immigrants.

The following story is in response to a story published in the November 30th, 2008 Southeast Missourian entitled: "Missouri's German immigrants helped keep state in the Union"

"How does one sever a people's roots? Answer: Destroy its memory. Deny a people the knowledge of who they are and where they came from" -- Pat Buchanan

These words from Pat Buchanan's 2002 book "Death of the West" came to mind as I was reading an article published in the November 30th, 2008 issue of the Southeast Missourian, entitled, "Missouri German immigrants helped keep state in Union".

The article portrays Missouri's German Immigrants as the heroes, who helped save the Union, down plays the events that transpired on May 10th 1861 and falsely states that Missouri did not secede from the Union.

Newly elected Commander in Chief of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Chuck McMichael had this to say about his role in leading the SCV: "One overall goal will be working to prepare for the sesquicentennial of the Cause for Southern Independence to make sure the true history is presented to the people."

A good place to start would be Missouri.

For starters, Missouri did not stay in the Union and the incident which occurred in St. Louis on May 10th, 1861, was no mere "affair" but more aptly described as a "massacre" that pushed Missouri's duly elected state government off of the fence of neutrality and into an alliance with 11 other Confederate states.

Colonel John C. Moore wrote in his book "Missouri in the Civil War" that following the surrender of "Camp Jackson" to Missouri's German "Home Guards" and "Wide Awakes":

"A great crowd of citizens , many of them women and children, had collected about the camp, and when the soldiers stacked their arms and marched out on their way to prison, the crowd began to jeer and mock at their captors, who resented the indignity by firing volley after volley in the crowd, the firing extending in regular succession down the line of troops. Twenty-eight persons were killed or wounded. Among the killed were three of the prisoners and a child in the arms of its mother. The Home Guards were supreme, and emphasized their supremacy by threatening to kill all the Secessionists in the city"

Moore continues…

"The next day another Home Guard regiment fired into a crowd on Sixth street between Pine and Olive streets, and again several citizens were killed and wounded"

The November 30th article carried a picture of Albert Sigel, and mentions that he along with his brother Franz and father Moritz emigrated to the United States from Baden, Germany following a failed revolution in 1848.

What the article fails to state is that the Sigel's were Marxist, and had to leave Germany after their failed revolution. Most of the 48'rs (as they were called) were Marxist as well and spoke no English.

How would you feel if one of your family members were marched at gunpoint or killed by foreign troops?

Amazingly, even after these horrible acts committed against them, Missourians tried in vain to keep the peace. Governor Jackson and former Governor Sterling Price asked for a conference with Union General Lyon and Wide Awake leader Frank Blair.

It was granted and held at the Planter's House in St. Louis. Again quoting Colonel Moore:

"When the conference had lasted four or five hours, Lyon closed it as he had opened it. 'Rather', said he, and he spoke deliberately, slowly and with a peculiar emphasis-' Rather than concede to the State of Missouri the right to demand that my government shall not enlist troops within her limits, or bring troops into the State whenever it please, or move troops at its own will into, out of, or through the State; rather than concede to the State of Missouri for one single instant, the right to dictate to my government in any matter , however unimportant, I would,'-rising as he said this, and pointing in turn to every one in the room and pointing in turn to everyone in the room -- 'see you , and you, and you, and you and every man, woman and child in the State, dead and buried.' Then turning to the governor, he said; 'This means war."

Governor Jackson and General Price returned to Jefferson City but were soon pursued by the Unionists and had to abandon the capitol. In the fall of 1861 a provisional government was set up in Neosho, Missouri which lies in the southwest corner of the state.

On October 30th,1861 the legislature passed an Ordinance of Secession and on October 31'st, 1861 it was signed by Governor Jackson. The popular "myth" is that there was not a quorum present, but according to Colonel Moore's account:

"The legislature passed an act of secession. In every particular it complied with the forms of law. It was called together in extraordinary session by the proclamation of the governor. There was a quorum of each house present. The governor sent to the two houses his message recommending , among other things, the passage of an act" dissolving all political connection between the State of Missouri and the United States of America". The ordinance was passed strictly in accordance with the law and parliamentary usage, was signed by the presiding officers of the two houses, attested by John T. Crisp, secretary of the senate, and Thomas M. Murray, clerk of the house, and approved by Claiborne F. Jackson, governor of the State. The legislature also elected members of the Provisional Congress of the Confederate government, amount whom were Gen. John B. Clark, who was succeeded in his military command by Edwin W. Price, a son of Gen. Sterling Price, and General Thomas A. Harris, who was succeeded in his military command by Col. Martin E. Green."

Proof of the legality of Missouri's secession can be found in the Senate Journal which was found in the collection of artifacts at Wilson's Creek National Battlefield.

Though the House Journal was never found, the November 21, 1861 issue of the Charleston (South Carolina) Mercury reported:

"The meeting of the Missouri State Legislature, which passed the ordinance of secession at Neosho on the 2d inst. Was well attended - a full quorum being present, including 23 members of the Upper and 77 of the Lower House; 19 of the former and 68 of the latter constitute a quorum. The ordinance of secession was passed unanimously, and without a dissenting voice. It was dispatched to Richmond by a special messenger to the President, leaving Memphis yesterday morning en route."

On November 28th, 1861 the Confederate Congress admitted Missouri its 12th state.

Of course if one does not believe that Missouri was a Confederate state I would recommend reading an article entitled, "Lest We Forget: Missouri Honors Its Confederates" published in Vol. I, No. 4 Spring 1991 / Vo. V, No. I, Summer 1991 issue of Ozark Watch Magazine which states:

"In 1875, Jefferson Davis made a formal visit to Missouri, causing a great stir among the citizenry and reflecting his popularity. His tour, which included stops at DeSoto and Kansas City, featured a stay as guest in the new Missouri Executive Mansion in Jefferson City, and a speech at the Callaway County fairgrounds at Fulton. Davis was met at the ferry on the north bank of the Missouri River at Jefferson City by a large crowd which swelled to numbers which may have exceeded 11,000 prior to his entry into Fulton. His address the following day at the Callaway County fairgrounds (now Priest Field at Westminster College) is reputed to have been the largest post-war gathering in his honor, with the single exception of his funeral in New Orleans"

The Ozark Watch article also states that:

"by 1900 Missouri had 78 United Confederate Veterans camps, more than Mississippi, Tennessee, Louisiana, North Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia, or Florida"

Southerners, especially those in Missouri should try to educate the public about Missouri's Confederate history especially on the eve of our Sesquicentennial of our state's invasion and overthrow.

Clint E. Lacy

Serves as a Historian for the John T. Coffee Camp #1934, Missouri Sons of Confederate Veterans and resides in Marble Hill, Missouri.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: