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Professor in the University of Kansas.



The Missouri compromises have been fully exploited on the Federal side, but from the standpoint of the Territory little or nothing has been written respecting them. Missouri newspapers drew their reports of the progress of events from their eastern exchanges and from occasional private letters. The mails required from four to five weeks in transmission, and when they failed, as they frequently did, the Missouri editor filled his columns with "elegant extracts from British classics. Proceedings in Congress were reprinted from the National Intelligencer, but on one occasion "Mr. Gales was indisposed" and the debates were unreported for a week. There was great disappointment in the Territory when the Fifteenth Congress adjourned without agreeing upon an enabling act, and indignation meetings were held in several counties. A meeting in Montgomery County, April 28, 1819,

Resolved, That the restriction attempted to be imposed upon the people of this Territory as a condition of their admission into the Union is a daring stretch of power, an usurpation of our sacred rights, unprecedented, unconstitutional, and in open violation of the third article of the treaty of cession entered into with France.'

Similar resolutions were passed in Boone's Lick County in June, in Washington County in July, and on September 14 the inhabitants of New Madrid County declared that they would be admitted to the Union on an equal footing with the original States or not at all. Later in the month a petition was gotten up, which proposed to solve the difficulty by dividing the Territory by the line of the Missouri River and erecting the northern part into a free and the southern part into a slave State, but the suggestion found little favor.

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Editorial comment varied with the point of view. The Missouri Intelligencer, published at Boone's Lick, attributed the failure of

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the Missouri bill to eastern jealousy of western development, as follows:

The restriction attempted to be imposed upon us by the eighty-seven members of the House of Representatives who voted for it, were those exclusively of the eastern states. They view with a jealous eye the march of power westward, and are well aware the preponderance will soon be against them; therefore they have combined against us; but let them pause before they proceed further, or the grave they are preparing for us, may be their own sepulchre. As well might they arrest the course of the ocean that washes their barren shores, as to check our future growth. Emigration will continue with a jiant stride until the wilderness shall be a wilderness no more; but in its stead will arise flourishing towns, cultivated farms, & peace, plenty and happiness smile on the land. Let those who are raised by the voice of the people to watch over and protect their rights and liberties, beware how they abuse so sacred a trust, lest they find in every injured freeman the spirit of a Hampden rise and hurl them from their posts.1

The editor of the St. Louis Enquirer emphasized the element of sectional rivalry and State rights. He said:

No people ever understood a political question better than the people of Missouri understand this. They know that, as it affects the Slaves, it is only a question of the place in which they shall live and can neither diminish their numbers nor better their condition; as it affects the Republic, it is a question of political power between the Northern and Southern interests; and as it affects the State of Missouri, it is simply and nakedly a question of state sovereignty, an experiment on the part of Congress to commence the business of making constitutions for the states, after having seized upon the power of making Presidents for the people.*

As the struggle was more and more protracted, public opinion became more and more excited. January 26, 1820, the St. Louis Enquirer charged that the postponement of the Missouri question until after the holidays was a "trick to delay the decision until the Northern States could 'lash into the ranks' such of their members as would not vote with them last year," particularly Holmes and Shaw, of Massachusetts; Storrs, of New York; Baldwin, of Pennsylvania; McLane, of Delaware; and Bloomfield, of New Jersey. When by the 25th of March no report of the passage of the Missouri bill was received, the editor of the Enquirer became hysterical. He said:

If Missouri is conquered by the people of the North, no matter whether it be done by votes at Washington or by intrigues at home . . . the result will be the same and the consequences equally calamitous to the territory and the Union. The balance of power will be overturned; all check to the criminal designs of these men will be removed; and their desperate designs will be as readily executed as they are now openly avowed. The Louisiana treaty will be a nullity and its territory sold out to some foreign bidder or held and governed at will as a conquered dominion. The liberty of the blacks will be proclaimed lighted torches will be put into the hands of slaves to rouse their sleep

1 Missouri Intelligencer. May 17, 1819.
2 St. Louis Enquirer. Nov. 10, 1819.

ing masters from their beds amid the flames of their houses and the cries of their slaughtered children.

It was darkest before the dawn. Four days later the news came that the Missouri bill had passed without restriction as to slavery nearly a month before. The transition from despair to ecstacy was instant. The Southern members had stood "united as a Spartan band, forty days in the pass of Thermopylæ, defending the People of Missouri, the Treaty of Cession, and the Constitution of the Republic." To the Northern members, who had voted against restriction, there should, in the language of Barbour, "be erected an imperishable monument of everlasting fame."1 April 30 the town of St. Louis was illuminated and transparencies displayed the names of the Northern men who had voted against restriction. The name of Senator Lanman, of Connecticut, who had been burned in effigy at Hartford, was most conspicuous. Some proposed to burn an effigy of Senator King, of New York, by way of retaliation, but better counsels prevailed.2


In the ensuing constitutional election slavery was the paramount issue. In St. Louis Judge John B. C. Lucas, whose son Benton had killed in a duel, headed an independent ticket "opposed to the further introduction of slaves into Missouri." Rector, Sullivan, Pratte, Barton, McNair, Bates, Pierre Chouteau, jr., and Riddick, nominated by the "lawyer junto," made up the opposing ticket. Benton aspired to an election, but, failing of a regular nomination, withdrew from the contest. The Missouri Gazette and the St. Louis Enquirer were the respective organs of the two factions. Among the workers on the antislavery side was Benjamin Lundy. The election was held from the 1st to the 3d of May. In St. Louis the proslavery vote was double that of the restrictionists. Of the 39 delegates elected to the convention in the whole Territory, only one was opposed to slavery. The result seems to have been due not so much to any very strong sentiment in favor of slavery as to a fierce resentment bred by the congressional attempt at dictation.

The constitutional convention met in St. Louis June 12, the day prescribed by the enabling act, and organized by the election of David Barton as president. It "has passed into history" that the constitution was chiefly the work of Barton. Darby says that "the most

1 Six Senators and 14 Representatives from Northern States voted against restriction. The Senators were Hunter, of Rhode Island; Lanman, of Connecticut; Parrott, of New Hampshire; Palmer, of Vermont; and Edwards and Thomas, of Illinois. The Representatives were Hill, Holmes, Mason, and Shaw, of Massachusetts; Eddy, of Rhode Island; Foot and Stevens, of Connecticut; Meigs and Storrs, of New York; Bloomfield, Kinsey, and Smith, of New Jersey; and Baldwin and Fullerton, of Pennsylvania. Adding the two Senators and one Representative from Delaware, increases the number to 8 and 15, respectively.

2 Missouri Enquirer, Mar. 29, Apr. 1, 1820.

3 Missouri Enquirer, Apr. 26, 1820.

• Benjamin Emmons, of St. Charles, who had come to Missouri from Vermont.

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