January 11 and 18, 1866: Loyalty oaths, and anti-suffrage sentiment

The Cape Girardeau Weekly Argus of January 11 and 18th both had some items of interest. Firstly, as we’ve seen, though the paper is strongly Unionist, the editorial policy favors union (and restoration of the status of the seceded states) with no rights for the former slaves beyond their freedom. So in the January 11 issue, we see a couple of items simply ridiculing any consideration to black Americans as citizens, or (heaven forfend) “ladies”. To set black suffrage as a condition for readmission of the southern states is to be the “Disunion Party”. And the Union League is excoriated for being too supportive of blacks, in language that was then merely coarse, but is now quite offensive. On the 18th, two proposed amendments to the Missouri Constitution are mentioned without comment — one to relax the loyalty oath, and one to enfranchise blacks.

The Senate of Louisiana received a communication from “loyal ladies” who wished to present them with a flag. The Senators gravely resolved to accept it, and appointed the hour for speech-making, &c. Before the time arrived, it was discovered that they were “colored ladies”, whereupon the Louisiana Senate promptly declined the intended honor.

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The Disunion Party

The Anti-Slavery Standard, in commenting on the policy of the President, says:
“His purpose, however, remains unchanged, and every desperate expedient he clutches at only shows how resolute he is to save his own scheme though he destroy the nation in the attempt.

That purpose we believe may be stated in a sentence: To bring back the States without Negro Suffrage. To that the President makes everything else bend. – We, therefore, on the other hand, demand that everything shall bend to the purpose of keeping them out until Negro Suffrage is secured.”

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Short Catechism of the Union League

It is supposed that no one can enter he inner door of the League room without being able to answer the following questions, in the language given below. It is a dark chamber; dark business; all about the darkie — all is silent as the grave.

The G.D.U.S.C.M.P. breaks the spell by addressing the noviciate thus:

For what purpose are you here?

Answer. To worship the niggers.

2nd Who are the niggers?

Ans. The superior race of mankind. The most exalted, wise, lovely, sweet scented, and beautiful people of the earth.

3d. For whom was this world made?

For niggers.

4th. Can you give me the origin of this beautiful race?

They had no beginning — existed from eternity. They were present when the world was created, and first suggested the origin of the white trash.

5th. What is the chief end of white men?

To glorify, worship and honor niggers.

6th. For what was the revolution fought?

For the nigger.

7th. What was the object of the Federal Constitution?

For the black race.

8th. What is the most important country of the world?

Africa.

9th. What race of mankind is the most enlightened?

The African. They built the pyramids, wrote the scriptures, built the tower of Babel, founded Troy, invented the telegraph, railroads, whipped the rebels, defeated the Declaration of Independence, and broke up the Federal Union.

Response — All hail, Afreeka.

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Cape Girardeau Weekly Argus 1/18/1866:

Missouri Legislature
Several amendments to the Constitution have been introduced into this body, two of which seem to find considerable favor there – the striking out of the clause against preachers, teachers, and lawyers, and giving negroes the right of suffrage after 1876.

Posted in Franchise, Freedmen, Loyalty oath, Missouri, Suffrage | Leave a comment

December 21, 1865: A little of this and that.

Woman walking on frozen Mississippi
Woman on the ice at St. Louis, 1905

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A variety of items from the Dec. 21, 1865 Cape Girardeau Weekly Argus.

First, a note about the ice on the Mississippi breaking up at St. Louis. This may sound strange to us, but the Mississippi at St. Louis froze completely 10 times between 1831 and 1938. The Alton Dam above St. Louis now stops ice from coming downstream to form a full blockage, though with warming temperatures it’s pretty unlikely it would anyway.

Next, several states defeated moves to enfranchise black citizens, with the exception of Iowa.

A long article protests that the Republicans are “afraid of the people”, as various Reconstruction measures disenfranchise or bypass Confederate sympathizers. These measures disproportionately favored Republicans at the polls.

Finally, a snarky note about Massachusetts women shipped to Washington as brides. This did indeed happen, and it reminded me of that late 60s TV show “Here Come the Brides“. I’m pretty sure I could sing bits of the theme song even now, which just goes to show you what crap we can waste brain cells on. The writer seems to think that sending adult women to the other side of the country voluntarily to seek husbands is the equivalent of selling children away from their parents.

Great Destruction of Property

On Sunday at about three o’clock P.M., the ice gave way at St. Louis, and broke about twenty steamboats from their moorings, sinking two outright, and badly damaging many others. – The loss is estimated at a quarter of a million dollars. Some three hundred people were on the ice when it commenced moving, none of whom were drowned.

At Crawford’s Bar, fifteen miles above here, a number of boats are aground, and the river has fallen so as to leave one or more boats high and dry on a sand bar.

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The people of Minnesota have voted down negro suffrage by a majority of 2,500; Wisconsin ditto by a majority of 8,000; Connecticut ditto by a majority of 6,000; Colorado by a vote of ten to one. The only State which has sustained negro suffrage is Iowa.

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Why is it?

Why is it that the New Constitution partisans have such a horror of the people? Can any one tell us? Their cowardly distrust of the people is a feature that runs through their whole career. They can’t disguise, nor conceal it. It crops out every day.

When Judge Clover framed his famous, or rather infamous Vacating Ordinance, turning eight hundred faithful incumbents out of office, he didn’t provide that the vacancies should be filled in the usual manner, by a popular election. He provided for filling them by appointment of the Governor.

The New Constitution provides for the two new Judges of the Circuit Court of St. Louis County. How are they to be obtained? By an election by the people? No. But by the appointment of the Governor.

The Registry Bill provides for about one thousand Registrars in the State, who are to pass upon the qualifications of voters. They are not to be chosen by the people, but are to be appointed by the Governor.

The new Police Bill for St. Louis county provides for four Police Commissioners, vested with the extraordinary powers of taxing the people $325,000; of superintending all elections in the county, and of calling out the militia. Surely, in consideration of their paying the cost of these expensive functionaries, the people are permitted to choose them. Not at all. The commissioners are to be appointed by the Governor.

Thus, in all their measures, the New Constitution statesmen exhibit the same pusillanimous distrust of the people. Why is this? Why do they divest the masses of their ancient privilege of electing their own officers, and give the appointment of those officers to the Executive of the State? It is no answer to these questions that they are afraid of rebel votes; for their own beloved Constitution has disfranchised rebels. According to their own admissions, only loyal men are permitted to vote in Missouri.

The fact is the New Constitution partisans are afraid of loyal men. Indeed, they are afraid to trust their own party. — [St. Louis Dispatch

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The Chicago Times, alluding to the ship load of New England females about to sail for the pacific coast as emigrants gives the anti-slavery howlers the following dig in the ribs:

“The tears which have been shed in the North over the sundering of negro families, is sufficient to furnish perpetual water power, if collected, for the manufactories of all Massachusetts. Necessity, like a brutal slave-owner, has seized upon several hundred lovely young ladies of the Bay State, has torn them from their families, and will send them to the highest bidders in Washington Territory, thousands of miles away. Who will weep over this rude violation of the family circle? No one. Philanthropy gazes complacently on the transaction, and says nothing, because the matter has no vote.”

Posted in Democrats, Franchise, Freedmen, Missouri, Republican, Washington | Leave a comment

December 14, 1865: Proposed civil rights law

Henry Wilson
Henry Wilson of Massachusetts

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The 13th amendment now being ratified, senators debate a proposal to make the freedom of black Americans meaningful by providing protection for their rights. It doesn’t get far.


SECURITY FOR FREEDOM.

Mr. WILSON, of Massachusetts, (Union,) called up a bill to maintain the freedom of the inhabitants of the States declared to be in insurrection and rebellion by the proclamation of the President, of the 1st of July, 1862. It declares all laws heretofore in force, or held valid in the insurrectionary States, whereby any inequality of civil rights and immunities exists among the inhabitants of these States, on account of race or color, are null and void.

Mr. WILSON explained the nature of the bill. He said the proclamation of the President of the 22d of September, 1863, declaring emancipation, pledges the faith of the Government of the United States to maintain the freedom of the persons declared to be free. This was repealed in the proclamation of the 1st of January. It was, therefore, the duty of the government to maintain the civil rights and immunities of these freedmen. The most cold-blooded atrocities were being perpetrated upon these freedmen, and it was the duty of Congress to interfere at once. Whatever differences of opinion there might be on the subject of negro suffrage, there ought to be none in regard to the duty of making good the guarantees of the government.

Mr. JOHNSON, of Maryland, (Dem.,) said there were serious legal objections to the bill under consideration. It did not name any bills or laws, but all laws of a certain character. Besides it only repealed all laws already made. But, if the Southern States are in the Union, they have a right to make police laws for the future. He had never believed that the Southern States were out of the Union, and he was glad to see in President JOHNSON’s Message, which was one of the ablest ever issued, a concurrence in this view. The people of the Southern States were now as anxious to return as they once were to leave the Union. He believed there was as much philanthropy in the South as in the North, and he was sorry to see the impression sought to be created, that the people of the South were barbarous.

Mr. COWAN, of Pennsylvania, (Union,) did not believe the bill would accomplish what its author desired. He thought as amendment to the Constitution was the only way to reach the matter, and he believed such an amendment would pass in Congress within a month.

Mr. WILSON referred to certain laws passed in the Southern States since the abolition of slavery, which, he said, subjected the freedmen to a worse bondage than slavery itself. The condition of the freedmen of the South was worse to-day than it was on the day of LEE’s surrender.

Mr. SHERMAN, of Ohio, (Union,) sympathized with the objects of the bill. He believed it to be the duty of Congress to secure freedom to the emancipated slaves; but he believed such legislation ought to be postponed until the proclamation of the Secretary of State, announcing the adoption of the Constitutional Amendment by the requisite number of States. Congress had the power, he said, under the second section of the Amendment, to make provision for the freedom of the blacks, and there was another section of the Constitution under which it could be done; that section which gives to the citizens of one State all the rights of the citizens of the several States. The bill before the Senate did not define the civil rights which the negroes ought to have, but stated them in general terms. In his judgment Congress ought to impose the conditions upon which the Southern States should be received back into the Union, and they ought to be in the form of amendments to the constitution. Action on the bill before the Senate ought to be deferred until the report of the committee of fifteen provided for by the concurrent resolution passed yesterday.

Mr. SAULSBURY, of Deleware, (Dem.,) said that when the Constitutional Amendment was before the Senate, no Senators claimed the right under the second section to give to the government the powers of a consolidated government.

Mr. TRUMBULL, of Illinois, (Union,) thought the bill was premature in the sense stated by Mr. SHERMAN. There was yet no official information of the passage of the Constitutional Amendment, and until the adoption of that amendment there might be some doubt as to the power of Congress to do what was proposed. After the adoption of the amendment there could be no doubt as to the power of Congress. If the second section did not confer this power upon Congress, he would ask the Senator from Delaware for what purpose it was intended.

Mr. SAULSBURY — I do not know what it meant. I had nothing to do with it; but I would ask the honorable Senator whether, when it was before this body for adoption, he avowed in his advocacy of it that it was meant for such purpose as now claimed?

Mr. TRUMBULL — Mr. President, I never understood it in any other way.

Mr. SAULSBURY — Did you state it so at the time?

Mr. TRUMBULL — I do not know that I stated so. I might as well have explained that the clause which declares that slavery shall not exist, meant that slavery shall not exist. I could make it no clearer. I reported it from the Judiciary Committee, for the very purpose of conferring upon Congress the authority to see that the first clause was carried out in good faith.

Mr. SAULSBURY said he did not see how gentlemen holding that the Southern States are not in the Union can regard the Constitutional Amendment as adopted. It required three-fourths of the States to adopt the amendment, and that number could not be obtained without counting the Southern States.

Posted in Civil rights, Emancipation | Leave a comment

Dec. 7, 1865: Signs and portents

Biela's comet and the end of the world

A couple of small items were all I found of real interest in the Dec. 7 Cape Girardeau Argus. First, the local Grand Jury was instructed to enforce the Iron-clad Oath in the new state constitution, even against ministers. Second, an item refers to the approach of “Bela’s comet” — undoubtedly Biela’s comet — which actually broke up in 1852, and was not seen in 1865. This comet’s orbit intersected that of the earth, though it never came close to collision. It was apparently responsible for periodic meteor showers for some time after its demise.


The Grand Jury

At a the meeting of the Circuit Court on Monday the Grand Jury were instructed to indict all persons guilty of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and all school marms who had not taken the oath.

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Bela’s comet — one of the largest and brightest known — is approaching the earth. It is now only six hundred millions of miles distant, and will continue its advance movement until February.

Posted in Loyalty oath, Missouri | Leave a comment

November 30, 1865: Immigrants go to loyal counties

An editorial from the Missouri Weekly Patriot out of Springfield, dated November 30, 1865, notes that immigration into the state is apparently correlated with support for abolition and the new state constitution, and assures its readers (rather naively) that all they need do is hold on, and the Radical majority will grow more secure.

In a separate item, they mention threats to burn down a school for black children because the teacher is white.


Progress of Missouri

It is estimated by those who have the best means of judging, that the immigration to Missouri at the present time averages not less than one thousand persons per week. The men, women and children composing this army of occupation add to the wealth of our State in a ratio which it is impossible to estimate. As cultivators of the soil, mechanics and manufacturers, they are a splendid acquisition, but their value to Missouri stops not there. They are chiefly from the free State of the North and from Germany, and come neither empty handed nor empty headed. They are generally intelligent and industrious people, who bring with them sufficient means to establish themselves comfortably in their new homes, and not a few of them are capitalists, who come to enter upon a field of enterprise which, at the present time, has no equal for the employment of energy and moderate wealth in the whole country. Of course Missouri is not standing sill while this current of living power is freshly pouring into her veins, and tend it her development in every form and direction. Improvement is the order of the day in every section of her territory. We question wheather any State in the Union, in which the precious metals have not been discovered, has ever made the same progress over a period equal to that which has elapsed since the adoption of the emancipation ordinance in Missouri.

This condition of things is more than satisfactory. What a splendid indorsement it furnishes to the policy which has prevailed in the State under its present Radical rule? That which gave Missouri her first great impulse was the immediate abolition of slavery – peculiarly a Radical measure. That which next contributed to the same end, was the adoption of the New Constitution. This last important action of the people settled, in public opinion, the question of Missouri’s future, creating confidence throughout the country in the loyalty and stability of her government. Had the New Constitution been defeated, Missouri might not have positively retrograded, but her progress for some time would have been very slow, and immigration would have continue to flow chiefly from Kentucky, Tennessee and other Southern States, as it was before slavery was abolished. The importance of the change, in this respect, we need not discuss.

Of course there has been bitter opposition to the workings of the New Constitution, as there was to its adoption. Every new reformatory system has met with precisely the same character of opposition. Nevertheless the Constitution as a whole is not only an established, but an unprecedented success. It is growing stronger and more popular day by day, although, not perfect in all its details. It is noticeable that the opposition to it as a whole, has already narrowed down to the purely disloyal element. The Blair men who join with the rebels in their denunciations of the Constitution, probably do not number two hundred, all told in the State.

One of the peculiar evidences of the New Constitution’s strength and popularity is shown in the advantage which those counties voting for it enjoy in the matter of immigration. Immigrants, as a general thing study most keenly the political character of the country, being especially anxious to get into loyal neighborhoods. One of the first question we have always been asked relates to this point. Hence it is that great satisfaction is expressed, when the county or section inquired after is spoken of as having voted for the New Constitution, and the districts which enjoy this recommendation have, in point of fact, secured the lion’s share of the new settlement. We have no doubt the land of those counties which supported the New Constitution is to-day, on that account, relatively five dollars per acre higher than in the counties which voted against it, taking the whole State into the calculation.

In view of these facts the loyal men of Missouri have especial reason to be encouraged. They have but to stand to their principles and be united and, all is safe. The efforts of the Blair-Bogy agitators, directed against the New Constitution, directed against loyal immigration, directed against progress and improvement of all kinds, because the New Constitution and immigration and progress and improvement are fatal to their political ascendancy, will miserably fail. In the light of passing events, so manifest that every man of sober reason can read them at a glance, their struggles and contortions, induced by their frantic resistance to a better and nobler condition of things, become ludicrous in the extreme.

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The Western Border Times learns that threats have been made to burn the school house in which the colored children are there taught, because the school is taught by a white lady, a member of the “Northwestern Freedman’s Commission.” The Times protests against such an outrage, and says:

“The city authorities are at a loss what to do in the premises. The parties interested in property in the vicinity are uneasy. We do not think there is much danger. But be that as it may, were me Mayor of the city, we would make it the especial duty of the blacks to watch the school, and we would tell them to defend it at all hazards. This the blacks would most cheerfully do.”

Posted in Education, Emancipation, Freedmen, Missouri, Missouri Weekly Patriot, Republican | Leave a comment

November 23, 1865: Universal Suffrage?

John Mercer Langston
John Mercer Langston

The Cape Girardeau Argus of November 23, 1865 was mainly devoted to discussion of the proposed gravel road connecting Cape Girardeau and Bloomfield, but it did find room to quote a rival paper and take a poke at black suffrage.

Interestingly, a search of Oberlin College’s records didn’t show me any graduate named “S.W. Lanston”. In fact, the item almost certainly refers to John Mercer Langston, who was active immediately after the war in building support for the National Equal Rights League, and spoke in support of black suffrage in upper South states including Missouri. His Missouri tour started in late November in St. Louis, where he told a large mixed-race crowd “You have got a foe to deal with whom you have not understood. You have whipped him on the battlefield, and his boast is that he will now whip you on the field of politics, and there you have got to fight another battle.” (Parrish, W.E. Missouri Under Radical Rule 1865-1870. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1965. p.134)


S. W. Lanston, an able colored graduate of Oberlin, is about to stump this State in behalf of universal suffrage. — [Radical.

How do you stand on this subject now, neighbor? “Universal suffrage” includes rebels, as well as niggers. You go the latter, of course — but we simply want to know if you think it possible that a white man may be as good as a nigger.

Posted in Franchise, Racism, Reconstruction | Leave a comment

November 16, 1865: Reconstruction controversies

Thaddeus Stevens
Thaddeus Stevens

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The Cape Girardeau Argus for November 16, 1865 shows its preferred Reconstruction policies in a couple of items reproduced from other papers. First, wondering why so many immigrants (and in Cape Girardeau County, these would mainly be Germans) support the Radicals, when they’d let a black man become president when an immigrant would be ineligible? And second, castigating Radicals like Thaddeus Stevens for disagreeing with the President — didn’t they say it was treason to oppose Lincoln during the war?

By the Constitution of the United States no foreign born citizen can ever be President or Vice President. When the Radicals accomplish their object, and allow negroes to vote, a rapid negro will be eligible to offices from which the foreigner is excluded. The negro will occupy the first place, and the negro the second in the political system. Are such of our naturalized citizens as are acting with the Radical Republicans willing by their votes to give the negroes a privilege which the Constitution denies to all of foreign birth? -Cairo Dem.

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The leading Republicans are wheeling into line rapidly against President Johnson and his reconstruction policy. The Toledo Record learns that “General Schenck, the other night, in that town, denounced with great vehemence the Mississippi Convention, and announced that no such convention should ever be allowed to restore any Southern State to the Union.”

After the fall elections the malcontents will be more outspoken. Already Wilson and Thad. Stevens have openly taken ground against the President, and by the time of the meeting of Congress the whole radical pack will be in full cry against him. – New York World

These fellows ought to be taken care of; they are “disloyal.” They used to tell us that the President was the “Government,” and that to oppose the President was to oppose the Government; and any man who did so was a traitor. Suppose “the Government” now give them a dose of their own remedy– arrest them and put them in Fort Lafayette or Fort Warren to cure their disloyalty Wouldn’t the loyal Leaguers howl then? — Quincy Herald

Posted in Elections, Franchise, Missouri, Reconstruction, Republican, Suffrage, Thaddeus Stevens | Leave a comment

November 9, 1865: Miscellaneous items

Governor Fletcher
“Thomas Clement Fletcher” by Missouri Life Inc. – Missouri Governor Portraits.

The Cape Girardeau Argus of November 9, 1865 has a number of items of interest. First, Governor Fletcher shows himself to be a somewhat moderate Radical, asking for modifications to the new Missouri Constitution’s “ironclad oath” provisions.

Touching the new Constitution, [Governor Fletcher] recommends such amendments as will exempt from the requirements of the second article all officers, trustees, directors or other managers of corporations for benevolent purposes, in which neither the United States, this State, nor any county, city or town is interested as a stockholder, creditor or contributor, as well as all professors or teachers in schools, not endowed, supported or in any manner contributed to by the United States, this State, or any county, city, or town. He recommends also the striking out the 23rd and 24th sections of Article II, requiring persons who have served in the Union Army to expurgate themselves from former sympathy with the rebellion. He concludes by recommending the establishment of a Soldier’s Home.

Then there’s an item about Charles Sumner’s demand that the Southern States enfranchise freedmen. Of course the Argus is opposed, and they garnish that opposition with a tidbit from the Louisville Journal.

Mr. Sumner says President Johnson must not let the Southern States come into the Union until they admit the negroes to the suffrage. President Johnson has no more right to do this than he has to drive Northern States out of the Union because they don’t admit negroes to the suffrage.

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Is not the negro a man and a brother? — N.Y. Independent.
He may be your brother or half brother; he is not relation of ours. — Louisville Journal

Finally, a note about Congressional Radicals and their early attempts to impeach Johnson.


Their Bill of Indictment.

According to the Washington correspondent of the Philadelphia Ledger, which is not a partisan paper, the radicals are busily organizing for the fight in Congress and have preferred their bill of indictment against the President. It embraces the following counts:

1. Refusal to extend negro suffrage.
2. The appointment of secessionists as provisional Governors.
3. The free exercise of the pardoning power, wherein were included many who should have been hanged.
4. The introduction of arms into Southern States.
5. The disbanding of the colored regiments.
6. The refusal to issue a sweeping confiscation.
7. The restoration of the Southern churches.
8. The refusal to arraign Lee, the leader of the rebel hosts, after he had been indicted for treason.
9. The refusal to try Davis in a military court.
10. The apathy shown in the enforcement of the Monroe doctrine, as applicable to Mexico.

— Cairo Dem.

Posted in Franchise, Freedmen, inflation, Loyalty oath, Missouri, Thomas Fletcher | Leave a comment

November 2, 1865: Blair and the Mass Convention

Francis P. Blair Jr.

The Cape Girardeau Argus of November 2, 1865 reports on the convention held in St. Louis to marshal opposition to Missouri’s 1865 Constitution. The star of the show was Gen. Frank Blair, scion of a politically powerful Missouri family, and standard-bearer of the Unionist Democrats in the region. Blair’s power base was threatened by the new constitution, which required voters (and teachers, etc.) to take the “ironclad oath” that they had not supported rebellion against the government. Excluding all the secessionists shifted the balance toward the Radical Republicans, who are the “usurpers” editorialized against in the second item below.

The convention didn’t really produce any immediate results, but it apparently helped to organize the Democratic opposition, which would eventually succeed in producing a Reconstruction constitution for the state in 1875.

The second resolution’s language claiming the right of the state to determine who could vote seems as much aimed at preventing black suffrage as in re-enfranchising former Confederates.

Resolution 9, opposing Thomas v. Mead, requires a little digging to understand. The Constitutional Convention of 1865 declared all state judgeships vacant, and empowered the Governor to fill such posts. A court clerk, Andrew Mead, was commanded to relinquish records to the new court. He refused and appealed to the state Supreme Court. That court held that the governor exercised the “sovereign executive power” of the state, and was acting legally in carrying out the orders of the Constitutional Convention. In the process, they were confirming their own positions as judges.

Resolution 10 seems to imply that anyone who disagrees with this group is not a law-abiding citizen, since the issues “stand above all mere party considerations”.

THE GREAT MASS CONVENTION

This monster gathering of the people assembled at Verandah Hall, in St. Louis, on Thursday, 26th ult. It is impossible for us to give the whole proceedings, and we therefore content ourselves with stating what was done in the shortest space possible.

When the Convention met, Barton Able was named temporary chairman, the customary committees on permanent organization, resolutions, &c., appointed, and after their retirement, Gen. Frank P. Blair was called for and for some three hours entertained the convention with the master speech of his life, after which an adjournment was had for dinner. On re-assembling, the Committee on Permanent Organization reported the name of Sam T. Glover as President, with a long list of Vice Presidents and Secretaries. Mr. Glover, on taking the chair, spoke for some two hours, reviewing the whole situation, and enchaining the vast audience by his eloquence. At its conclusion, the convention adjourned to Friday at 10 o’clock. On re-assembling, Mr. Foy, Chairman of the Committee on Resolutions, reported the following, which were taken up separately, and passed without a dissenting voice:

We, the people of Missouri, in Convention assembled, to pledge ourselves to the support of President Johnson in his arduous task of reorganizing the Southern States, and restoring the Union, and also to aid in restoring the principles of civil and religious liberty and equality in this State, which have been stricken down by the so-called New Constitution, resolve:

1. That we are grateful to Almighty God that peace is restored to our country, and that the result of the war has been to leave the union of these States unbroken; that the brave men who under the leadership of our great Generals and Admirals were instrumental in achieving that result, have an undying place in our affection and esteem.

2. That the States in our system of government have equal rights, and this equality is the corner stone of the Union; that no State can either secede or be expelled from the Union, or be degraded below the others, or be deprived of any Federal right, power or privilege which is exercised by any other; that among the equal rights of the States, none is clearer or more vital than that of each one to designate who shall vote within its limits; and that we applaud President Johnson for having recognized and acted upon this important principle in instituting his reorganization measures.

3. That as an obvious corollary from these elementary truths, Senators and Representatives elected to Congress who are duly accredited under the broad seal of their respective States, have an indisputable right to seats in that body, and to speak and vote therein on taking the Constitutional oath; that a refusal to admit them would be revolutionary and dangerous proceeding, and as much a violation of the bond of Union as the secession ordinances of the States lately in rebellion.

4. That peace being now restored, we regard with extreme dislike the exercise of judicial powers by military commanders or military commissioners, and we most respectfully entreat the President to curb the arbitrary power of the military subordinates in this respect, and to compel all executive officers of the Government to recognize the supremacy of the judicial tribunals, and the privileges of the writ of habeas corpus.

5. That the action of the late State Convention in attempting to disfranchise a large number of their own constituents, in trammeling the educational interests of the State, in restricting civil and religious liberty, by imposing retrospective test oaths, in taxing churches, seminaries, orphan asylums, graveyards and other species of property never before subjected to taxation, and in refusing to submit their said action to the vote of the people by whom they were elected, was in violation of republican liberty and the Constitution of the United States, and deserves the censure and condemnation of an outraged people; and that in view of these and other odious features of the so-called Constitution, we recommend the calling of a Convention with power to adopt a Constitution embodying the principles of civil and religious liberty, which shall be submitted to the people for ratification.

6. That the Registry Law provided by the so-called New Constitution of this state is subversive of the liberties of the people, and we appeal to our present General Assembly by every principle of justice not to attempt to force so great an outrage on this State.

7. That we accept as final and irrevocable the ordinance abolishing slavery in this State.

3[sic]. That it is the duty of all good citizens to use their best endeavors to allay all feelings of animosity resulting from the late rebellion, and that in this spirit we cordially approve, on the part of the President, a just and liberal exercise of the pardoning power.

9. That we reject as foreign to the principles of American institutions, the doctrine announced by the so-called judges of the Supreme Court in the case of Thomas vs. Mead, to wit: that “the Governor is sovereign in political power;” and that we condemn as dangerous and pernicious the practice, by them for the first time introduced into Missouri, of Judges deciding causes in which they are personally interested.

10. That the issues, State and Federal, now dividing the people of Missouri, are vital and fundamental, involving the stability of free institutions and the existence of civil and religious liberty, and stand above all mere party considerations; and we therefore appeal to all law-abiding citizens to cordially unite with us in redeeming the nation and the State from the perils that environ them.

11. That the speedy redemption of the national debt is a sacred duty, and for this purpose the necessary initiatory steps ought to be taken at the next session of Congress, and that the war debt of Missouri should be assumed by the Federal Government, and that Missouri, in this respect, should be placed on an equal footing with her loyal sister States.

12. That the conduct of Governor Fletcher, by his violent and unauthorized interference with the judiciary — a co-ordinate and independent department of the Government — by his tacit approval of the murder of citizens by militia, claiming to act under his authority; by his encouraging the prosecution of ministers, priests, teachers and harmless women, for their refusal to take a repulsive test oath; by his attempts to overawe civil tribunals, and subvert their privileges by the forcible installation into office of men whose claims present judicial questions, merits our severest censure, as dangerous violations of the principles of Republican Government.

A resolution was adopted inviting Edward Bates to a seat in the Convention.

A State Central Committee was appointed.

The balance of the time was consumed in addresses by different men of eminence.

On Thursday and Friday evenings immense concourses of people were addressed at the courthouse by Wm.A.Hall, Judge Hicks, Blair, Bogy, and others. Six bands of music were in attendance.

Cape Girardeau county was represented by Eugene Garaghty, J Burrough, H.H.M.Williams, David W. Shepperd, John R. Henderson, R.W.Harris, M.J. Hines, and W.M. Hamilton. From Scott County, Augustus J. Youngman, Levi S. Green, and John Sikes. New Madrid County, T.J. O’Morrison, John T. Scott, S.T. Davis, and F.C. Butler. Perry County, Hon. Thos. E. Noell, R.M Brewer, Felix Layton, J.H. Abernethy, Jos. Meyer, Wm. Allen, Leo Moore.

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THE GREAT MASS CONVENTION

The great Mass Convention is over and Verandah Hall will from this time forth be to Missouri what Independence Hall is to the history of the nation. With great hope, yet with no small trepidation of heart, have we awaited the result. Its triumphant and glorious termination has more than realized our most sanguine expectations. Human liberty and the just rights of humanity have been vindicated.

When we surveyed that vast assemblage and studied the men of whom it was composed, our mind was carried back to that other assemblage whose wisdom, unshrinking courage, and daring patriotism gave birth to the liberties of which we are so justly proud. Frank, decorous and earnest, animated with but one object — the redemption from thraldom of their beloved state, the Reconstruction of the national government upon its primitive basis — were the men who made up this Convention. Ever fair in the discussion of deeply interesting questions, fearless in the manner in which they met the difficulties of the hour, and most admirable for the manly spirit of mutual concession — ever disregarding dead issues, and prompt to meet living ones — they moved on in harmonious unity, and proved themselves to be men of no common order. By their wisdom they have baffled their enemies, and by forgetting old party issues, associations and preferences, they have sadly disappointed their most malignant defamers. They did not meet for dissension and strife; they met to endorse and support the reconstruction policy of President Johnson and to free oppressed Missouri from thralldom — and right well and nobly have they performed their duty. In vain their enemies raved around them. The firm rock does not more easily dash the tempest driven wave into spray, than these men threw to the winds the many intrigues and subtle schemes devised by their enemies — by malevolent and apprehensive adversaries for their destruction. Truly were they confounded who sought their destruction. Truly were they turned backward and put to shame who sought evil to them, and all their malice was wasted. For these noble men recognized their enemy without an effort, and recognized also in their common opposition to the foe, the bond of an inevitable, unavoidable and cheerful friendship. This foe so monstrous in its proportions, so unscrupulous in its means, and who had so long rioted upon their plundered liberties, could only be subdued by unity; in union was their strength, and they were united. All the resolutions reported to the Convention were unanimously adopted — not one single member composing the Convention voting against them — a fact unparalleled in the history of Conventions.

In these resolutions the members pledge the State to support the policy of President Johnson; and to oppose by every legal means the new Constitution of Missouri. They accept as final and irrevocable the abolition of slavery — thus ending the question forever. In bold and unmistakeable language they denounced the New Constitution, and bigots who framed it, and the usurpers who are in office under it. They demand in most emphatic language a new constitution, and ask for no partial relief of a lingering amendment. To obtain this they mean war without quarter against the vile instrument, and most respectfully appeal to the Legislature to call a new Convention. They have made a plain, square and fair issue. They have marked out their battleground, and have retired to their homes, determined to fight it out if it takes a dozen summers. Of the enemy no favors are asked, and very few will be shown.

Those who maintain that infamous document, with its oaths and disabilities and disfranchisements, are fighting against the mightiest ideas of the age — against civil and religious liberty, the rights of conscience, the liberty of speech and freedom of worship — and if they wish to break their heads against a stone wall, let them do it. At too late an hour in the day do they become the champion of despotism bigotry and wrong — their graves were dug the last century. The right will triumph in the end, and the end is not far distant. War has been proclaimed against the dominant power in the State. The wishes and impulses of the people must and will be respected, and wo[e] to the man or body of men who dare oppose it.

Posted in Democrats, Francis Preston Blair, Reconstruction, Republican | Leave a comment

October 26, 1865: Building opposition to the Missouri Constitution

Cape Girardeau Weekly Argus of October 26, 1865 reports on a trip about 50 miles to the southwest, to Bloomfield, MO. As the author tells us, opposition to the new Missouri Constitution was strong there in Stoddard County, and they were selecting delegates to send to the Mass Convention in St. Louis that has been mentioned before.

The mention of “chills and fever” is interesting — most likely people in the area suffered chronically from malaria. The region was largely swamp, with high ground mainly on Crowley’s Ridge; it would be drained in the early part of the 20th century by the Little River Project, which created vast swaths of fertile farmland at the expense of a millions of acres of wetlands teeming with wildlife.


Trip to Bloomfield.

We spent the past week among our hospitable and generous friends of Bloomfield — the Circuit Court (Judge Emerson presiding,) being in session there at the time.

The charge of Judge Emerson to the grand jury was characterized by that full, broad and manly sense of freedom which is the attribute of the true man. We found young Mr. D.S. Crumb officiating as deputy clerk, in this court, and an excellent one he makes, too.

We found many of our friends suffering from chills and fever, and much sickness prevailing everywhere – although, as a general thing, not of a fatal character.

On Monday, a meeting was convened for the purpose of appointing delegates to the Mass Convention at St. Louis to-day, and we had the pleasure of listening to a couple of very able speeches, in opposition to the New Constitution, by Judge Greene, of our county, and William T. Leeper, of Wayne County. They did much good toward moving the people to array themselves against that damnable instrument in coming elections.

At this meeting Mr. H.H. Swasey was nominated as the anti-Constitution candidate for Representative, which, unless other candidates of the same political faith enter the lists, is equivalent to an election. He has our warmest wishes for success over any friend of the odious instrument.

The town of Bloomfield has suffered terribly from the effects of war — on the site of the former centre of the town stands the immense fort constructed in the last days of the rebellion, and which will require the expenditure of an immense amount of time and money to level down; but her people are alive to the future, and their energy and perseverance are equal to the task before them. A number of fine, substantial buildings are being erected there.

While there we had the pleasure of meeting a number of the officers and citizens of Dunklin county, which has just been reorganized, with Dr. Jacob Snider, Mr. Shelton and Mr. White as County Judges; Lieut. Rathbun as Sheriff, and Lem. T. Bragg as Circuit and County Clerk — all excellent appointments. We congratulate the citizens of Dunklin on the restoration of law and order once more. They have plenty of cotton, which is an element of future prosperity.

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