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POSITION OF THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT.
and of the United States, respecting slavery. But if the emancipation ordinance was passed, would the federal army return a negro to his master, when other runaway slaves were enlisted as soldiers? In brief, would the national government help carry out the emancipation program? The question raised by the convention was soon definitely answered by the President himself in a letter to General Schofield :
Desirous as was Lincoln that emancipation should be adopted by Missouri, and believing as he did that gradual could be made better than immediate emancipation, for both black and white, except when military necessity changed the case, his impulse was to say that such protection would be given. But the President could not exactly know what shape an act of emancipation might take. If the period from the initiation to the end should be comparatively short, and the act should prevent persons being sold during that period into more lasting slavery, the whole would be easier. He did not wish to pledge the General Government to the affirmative support of even temporary slavery, beyond what could be fairly claimed under the Constitution. He supposed, however, that this was not desired, but that it was desired that the military force of the United States, while in Missouri, should not be used in subverting the temporarily reserved legal rights in slaves during the progress of emancipation. This, Mr. Lincoln would desire also. He had very earnestly urged the slave States to adopt emancipation; and it was an object with him not to overthrow or to thwart what any of them might do in good faith to that end. The President's reply to Schofield was given before the question it answered was raised in convention, and when its purport was made known to the members (for the letter itself was
1 Lincoln's Works, II, 357.
SLAVERY AND INDUSTRY.
not, at the time, made public), it contributed to hasten the adoption of the emancipatory plan.
When its contents were known the main question with the convention was, merely to fix the date when complete emancipation should begin. Only a small minority favored immediate emancipation. Much was said of the contrast between Missouri and the larger free States. Its production of pig-iron was less than that of Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York or New Jersey. Its tons of bar and other rolled iron scarcely compared with the quantity produced in them. In 1860, it produced less than eighty thousand bushels of coal, while Illinois produced fourteen millions, and Pennsylvania nearly sixty-seven millions. But emancipation, it was said, would soon bring the State up to the rank of its competitors. This expectation has since been fully realized, and Missouri, instead of ranking eighth in population and wealth, as it did in 1860, before ten years elapsed ranked fifth, and sustained its placed to the close of the century. But no one suggested any participation of the freedman in this vast and prospective accretion of wealth; he should be apprenticed under the law; he should be brought back, if he ran away; he should be kept in constant surveillance, and, at the end of his probationary period, be set free; but no one even hinted that he ought to be taught a trade, or any art or calling. Nothing was said of establishing schools for his benefit. These were details of the plan which the future must work out.
1 See Statistical Atlas based upon the results of the Eleventh Census, Washington, 1898, Plate 2. The comparison of the productiveness of the State with that of other States was elaborated upon in many speeches, but all to the same end, that emancipation must prove profitable. See Proceedings, pp. 174, 175, 176, 203, 242, 243, 244.
2 Missouri established a system of schools under the Act of 1839. It was for whites only. It was an offense to teach negro
DATE FOR FINAL EMANCIPATION.
But let no man imagine that thoughtful men in Missouri were indifferent to the dangers and obligations involved in the constitutional amendment, which the convention now recognized to be necessary. Gradually, as the discussion proceeded, the six plans for emancipation that had been submitted to the convention were composed in the form of a constitutional amendment. On the first of July, the vote on the great question was cast.
All differences as to the time when slavery should cease were compromised. On and after the fourth of July, 1870, all slaves within the State should be free, but they should remain subject to the authority of their late owners, as servants, for various periods. Those over forty years of age during their lives; those under twelve years of age, until they arrived at the age of twenty-three, and all other ages until the fourth of July, 1876. Slaves brought into a State, and not now belonging to any of its citizens, should be free, and slaves removed, with the consent of their owners, to any seceded State, and afterward brought back, should also be free; but the general assembly was forbidden, as under the old constitution, to pass laws to emancipate slaves without the consent of their owners. An effort was made to pass a resolution declaring it to be the duty of Congress to compensate owners for the inconvenience which the change involved; but it met with slight support.2 slaves to read and write, and free negroes were not suffered to attend school. The educational problem was not touched on by this convention. For an account of educational privileges in the United States down to 1850, and especially as to persons of color, see my Constitutional History of the American People, 17761850, Vol. I, pp. 384, 394; also Schools and Education in the Index, Vol. II.
1 The ordinance passed by a vote of fifty-one to thirty. Proceedings, pp. 367, 368.
2 Defeated by a vote of thirty-five to twenty-one,
EMANCIPATION DECREED IN MISSOURI.
The news of the adoption of the amendment passed quickly over the State, and was received with many evidences of approval, but the signs of approval were less vigorous than those of opposition; not because the amendment was adopted, but because it did not go into effect immediately. The radical emancipationists of the State took up the question, agitated it anew among the people and from this time became an active and controlling party in the State. In the Presidential election of 1864 they elected the governor and a majority of the Congressmen, and got control of the State legislature. The popular vote called for a convention, and three-fourths of the delegates chosen were radical emancipationists. On the thirteenth of February, 1864, the General Assembly had passed the act authorizing the convention, which the people had ratified, and had made it the duty of the prospective body to consider such amendments to the State constitution for the emancipation of slaves' as might be deemed necessary.
On the sixth of January, 1865, this convention met at St. Louis. Its membership plainly showed the changes of the last four years in the State. In the convention of 1861, which barely abstained from issuing an ordinance of secession, there were eighty members who were born in slaveholding States and but thirteen natives of free States. In the Convention of 1865 there were thirty-four natives of slaveholding States, but there were twenty-two natives of free States. On the ninth of January, several ordinances for the immediate abolition of slavery were proposed. On the tenth, an article on the emancipation of slaves was offered, beginning "All men are born free and independent,” which declared the abolition of slavery. On the eleventh, the committee on emancipation reported
1 Act of February 13, 1864; Section 5.
THE NEWS IN CONGRESS.
an ordinance that hereafter in the State there should be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except in punishment of crime whereof the party had been duly convicted, and all persons held to service or labor as slaves were declared free.
The previous question was called, and the ordinance taken from the great act of 1787 was adopted by an overwhelming vote.
It was engrossed on parchment, was signed by the members and a copy, duly attested, was placed in the hands of a special messenger and transmitted, without delay, to the Governor, at Jefferson City, with the request that he issue a proclamation to the people stating that by the irrevocable action of the convention, slavery was forever abolished in Missouri.? The adoption of the ordinance was announced to the legislature by telegraph. Elated at the news, the House dropped all business for a time and greeted the intelligence by joining in singing "John Brown's Body.”3 The news was sent to other States. Illinois soon sent a congratulatory reply through Richard Yates, her Gover
On the sixteenth, Schuyler Colfax laid before the National House of Representatives the telegraphic dispatch received from Missouri, signed by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of its House, and also the proclamation of the Governor. At the suggestion of Elihu B. Washburn of Illinois the communications were ordered to be preserved in the archives of the government.4 Meanwhile five other slaveholding States were adopting a policy of emancipation, and a new free State was forming on the Pacific coast.
1 By a vote of sixty to four. Journal of the Missouri State Convention, held at the City of St. Louis, January 6, April 10, 1865, pp. 25 and 26.
2 Journal, p. 27.
4 Congressional Globe, January 16, 1865, Second Session, Thirtyeighth Congress, p. 276.