January 4, 1861: Claiborne Fox Jackson’s inauguration as governor of Missouri

Claiborne Fox Jackson
Claiborne Fox Jackson

From the Richmond Daily Dispatch:

Inaugural address of Gov. Jackson, of Missouri.

St. Louis,Jan. 4–Governor Jackson’s inaugural address was almost exclusively devoted to the discussion of Federal relations.–He says the destiny of the slaveholding States are identical, and Missouri would best consult her own interests and the interests of the whole country by a timely declaration of her determination to stand by her sister slaveholding States, in whose wrongs she participates and with whose institutions her people sympathize.

Missouri will remain in the Union so long as there is a hope of maintaining the guarantees of the Constitution; but it the Northern States are determined to put the slaveholding States on the footing of inequality, by preventing the entrance of slaves into the Territories; admitting no more slave States; or persisting in nullifying or perverting the Constitution in reference to slave property, then they themselves practically abandon the Union, and cannot expect the South to submit to such a Government.

He opposes coercion, and says the project of maintaining the Government by force may lead to a consolidated despotism, but never to Union. Our Government is based upon justice, equality — and the first drop of blood shed in a war of aggression upon Sovereign States will result in the overthrow of the entire Federal system. He says he has not abandoned all hope of the preservation of the Union, and he believed that, by prudence and well-directed efforts, an adjustment alike honorable to both sections can be effected. He is opposed to Congressional compromises, and says the South can rely only upon constitutional guaranties, and, to effect this end, he advises the calling of a Southern Convention to agree upon such amendments of the Constitution as would secure her just rights, and submit them to the Northern States for their action. He advises the calling of a State Convention to ascertain the will of the people on the subject; and also advises a thorough organization of the State militia to repel invasion and protect property and the lives of citizens. He recommends the legalization of the suspension of specie payments by the banks.

Claiborne Fox Jackson was elected Governor of Missouri as a “popular sovereignty” Democrat. As his inaugural suggested, he was not a strong Unionist. Within three months, he would be forced out of office by the Missouri Constitutional Convention.

Missouri in the 1860 election

Note that Missouri was the only state in which at least one county went for each of the four presidential candidates in 1860. The overall vote totals were 35.5% Douglas (Missouri was the only state he carried), 35.3% Bell, 18.9% Breckinridge, and 10.3 % Lincoln. Three counties went for Lincoln — Gasconade, St. Louis, and St. Louis City — all of them probably due mainly to German immigrants’ votes. It is interesting to compare the county votes with the slave population map:

Slave population MO 1860

Here we see that the areas with the largest slave populations were mostly for Bell, as was the case in Mississippi and Alabama*. Large slaveholders were conservative, and supported Bell’s Constitutional Union party. Breckinridge voters in Missouri were concentrated in the Ozarks, among small farmers with few or no slaves; the traditionally populist appeal of the Democratic party probably was responsible for this. As both Bell and Douglas voters tended to oppose secession, and they combined for over 70% of the 1860 vote, it is apparent that the union had considerable support in Missouri, despite the views of its new governor.

*See Barney, The Secessionist Impulse: Alabama and Mississippi in 1860.

This entry was posted in Constitutional Union, Democrats, Missouri, Secession, Slavery. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to January 4, 1861: Claiborne Fox Jackson’s inauguration as governor of Missouri

  1. Mike Goad says:

    Interesting times ahead for Mr. Jackson, I think.

    • Agathman says:

      Yeah, I have a premonition about that too. I have to get out my copy of Inside War and see what I can find out about him.

  2. Chris Moore says:

    The swath of dark green counties running up the Missouri River on your above map, becomes known as “Little Dixie”. (And some, to this day, still refer to them as such.) Leading up to and throughout the war an interesting swirl of political, social and emotional turmoil revolves around that area of our state. This was the economic center of Missouri’s slave holding powers prior to the conflict. Hemp was one of our leading ag exports, mainly in the form of rope shipped south to bale cotton. J.O. Shelby (CSA Gen.) had one of the state’s largest “ropewalks” in the little town of Waverly.

    Most of the large scale military engagements in Missouri, outside of Wilson’s Creek and Ironton, occur along that stretch of ground. Jeff City, Boonville, Lexington (two encounters, one called the “Battle of the Hemp Bales”), Camden, Independence (1862+64), Big & Little Blue River, Lone Jack and Westport, etc. Most of the “guerrilla” bands and hard fighting regiments come out of this region. It was also the breeding ground for the “Border Ruffians” that stirred up politics in Kansas prior to the conflict. Great sidebar on the Civil War in Missouri.

    And yeah, C. F. Jackson has some history to come, as the story unfolds, though he doesn’t live to see the end of the tale.

    Good book on Shelby and that part of state:
    “General Jo Shelby, Undefeated Rebel” by Daniel O’Flaherty.

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