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MEANING OF ABOLITION.
rejected by many in the State, who declared that when the Constitution was formed the American Commonwealths were each as sovereign and independent as Russia is to-day. The whole controversy turned on the meaning of sovereignty. The North introduced doctrines and purposes that would not be satisfied until slavery was under a process of extinguishment. Yet the sagacity of the Northern leaders must be admired. The Union consisted of fifteen slave, and eighteen free, States, with territory sufficient for fifty more. The territories were open to a foreign population, and it was ever anti-slavery. If slavery was confined to the limits of fifteen States, and the immense territory extending to the Pacific was to be peopled and brought into the Union as States, while a foreign emigration was pouring in equal to a State a year, it would not be long before the free States would have a majority of three-fourths of the Confederacy, and the abolition of slavery would soon follow.
Abolition meant the loss of one hundred millions of property to Missouri alone, so that the State might well pause before deciding on its action. The discussion of slavery, that followed, reiterated the familiar apologies for the institution; reviewed the effects of emancipation in Jamaica in 1836, and, in brief, re-echoed all that had recently been said on the subject in South Carolina and the older slaveholding States. The question in Missouri was whether to join the Southern Confederacy or to remain loyal to the Union, or to take the initiative in the formation of a Confederacy of the West, with Missouri as the foremost State.
1 Journal, 131. For an account of the idea of sovereignty, 1776-1800, see my Constitutional History of the American People, 1776-1850, I, Chapter vi. See also, for application of the idea later, II, 330, 347.
WHAT OF THE NEGRO?
Though hesitating to join the Southern Confederacy, because its own portion of the population would be relatively slight, the State at this time had no disposition to deprive itself of its slaves. Its white people, who were slave owners and advocates of slavery, like their kind, North and South, believed that slavery was the sole means of preventing the negro from hopeless deterioration, but now, when civil war was raging, the instability of property in slaves disclose, and the abolition of the institution not improbable, the ultimate consequence of so radical a change in society did not escape attention. What, it was asked, was to be done with the African when he was free? The party in power at Washington only said that he ought not to go west of the Mississippi. It did not propose to admit him to any participation in political power. It was the anomalous condition, in which liberated Africans would be left, that staggered the majority of the Southern slaveholders. Abolition meant more than bodily freedom. Clearly it involved the gravest civil and political privileges. More than this, it involved the admission of negroes into the ranks of industry as competitors for the rewards of labor.
It is not strange, then, that the mere intimation of abolition made loyal slaveholders pause. The change was a revolution too great for the mind to grasp. Missouri, at this time, like other border States, was inclined to look upon the Southern Confederacy as a scheme of the leaders in the Gulf States to secure a policy of free trade: the glittering temptation of a Southern republic, whose basis was cotton and whose policy was free trade with Europe.2 The idea, it was said, started in South Carolina, with McDuffy, Calhoun and Hayne, in the hope of establishing
1 Journal, 195. 2 Journal, 211.
THE WEST AND THE UNION.
a Southern commerce as a rival to the centralization of trade in New York.1 The Northern idea was different and was based on free labor, to which the great West should be the outlet. There was the seat of continental power. In the history of free labor in America, the slave agitation would be only an incident. It was the West, the people of the Great Valley, who should determine the future of America; therefore, the border States better cling to the old Union. Meanwhile, let the war go on; in the course of twelve months, or, perhaps, of two years, Missouri could determine whither she ought to go. Her course should remain unpledged, but whether northward or southward, was now the question. Looking southward, the people of Missouri saw a Confederacy established by the cotton States and levying a tariff much lower than that fixed by the national government. If the Confederacy maintained itself, as it promised to, might it not be advantageous for Missouri to join itself to a government whose system of taxation was less onerous than that of the United States? Thus on the twenty-second of March, 1861, when the convention adjourned till December, the future course of the State, whether Northward or Southward, was quite uncertain.
But Missouri had condemned secession, and military
1 See the letter to President Jackson respecting McDuffy; Vol. II, p. 405; also see the citation of the opinion in Alabama respecting Southern trade in the Confederacy outrivaling that of New York, infra, p. 42.
Journal, 213, 214, 222, 223. 3 Journal, pp. 226, 227.
4 See an Act to Provide Revenues from commodities imported from foreign lands, in Acts and Resolutions of the Second Session of the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States, held at Montgomery, Alabama, Richmond, 1861. Approved May 21, 1861; pp. 50, 62.
See resolution Judge Breckinridge, ered March 7, 1861; Journal, p. 27; Turner's resolution March 8, Journal, p. 31; report of committee on Federal relations, Journal, p. 4; the vote that the people of the State were devotedly attached to the Union was practically unanimous,-ninety yeas.
MISSOURI AND THE CONFEDERACY.
events in the State soon sustained this decision. At the call of a majority of the committee of the convention, it reassembled in the city of Jefferson, on the twentysecond of July. The great State officials had identified themselves with the Confederacy. The convention now promptly declared their offices vacant;' passed many ordinances in support of the national government and the loyalty of the State, and concluded its work, on the thirty-first of July, by electing Hamilton R. Gamble, Governor.? The vote, more than three to one in his favor, fairly represented the Union sentiment of the State. The Richmond Congress, on the twenty-eighth of November, admitted Missouri into the Confederacy, and, on the following day, entitled it to elect thirteen members to its House of Representatives. But the persistent efforts of the Confederacy to secure the State resulted, at last, only in failure.
In October the convention had again assembled at St. Louis, and on the fifteenth Samuel M. Breckinridge gave expression to the opinion of the majority of the people of the State in a series of resolutions denying the right of secession, and, generally, sustaining the national government; but, at the same time, demanding the renunciation of any purpose, on its part, to interfere with slavery in Missouri or in the District of Columbia, or with the inter-state slave trade; or of any purpose to use its power to repress or to extinguish slavery. On the other hand,
1 Journal of Missouri State Convention held at Jefferson City, July, 1861, p. 11.
2 By a vote of sixty-eight to twenty-one. Journal, 132.
8 Acts and Resolutions of the Fourth Session of the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States, pp. 3, 4.
THE MISSOURI CONVENTION.
the resolutions demanded the renunciation by the South of any purpose to use the power of the general government to perpetuate and extend slavery. Judge Breckinridge appealed to the border States, to North Carolina and to Arkansas to stand firm with Missouri in these demands. Thus, the State, finding voice in the words of its loyal citizens, was at this time still hoping for some national adjustment of the contest. On the second of June, 1862, the convention was reassembled by Governor Gamble, and on the seventh Judge Breckinridge presented an ordinance to amend the State constitution.3 All negroes and mulattoes born in slavery, in the State, after the first of January, 1865, should be considered slaves until they arrived at the age of twenty-five years, and no longer, unless permanently removed from the State.
No description of the South in the year 1862 was a more correct analysis of its condition, and a truer prophecy of its future than the speech in which he supported his amendment. The institution of slavery in Missouri was doomed; the war had already settled its fate. The number of slaves removing from Missouri had suddenly increased, and the number brought into the State had, as suddenly, decreased every year. Within the preceding eighteen months, at least fifty thousand had left. Within a year six thousand had gone to Kansas, and thirty thousand had been removed by their owners into the South for safety. The geographical position of the State ex
1 Journal of Missouri State Convention, held at the City of St. Louis, October, 1861, p. 70.
2 Journal of the Missouri State Convention, held at the City of Jefferson, 1862, p. 3.
3 Article III, Section 26.