Did Missouri Secede from the Union?

Annie69 By Annie69, 24th Sep 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>History

Did Missouri secede from the Union or was it a loyal Union state?

It's been said you can have your own opinions, but you can't have your own facts. But when it comes to the American Civil War, I wonder.


History is written by the winners, but even then, "facts" are challenged as other evidence comes to light.

Abraham Lincoln was elected President on November 6, 1860. South Carolina seceded from the Union on December 20, 1860. Five additional states—Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana—did likewise in January; and Texas seceded on February 1, 1861.

The Confederacy was formed on February 7, 1861, before Lincoln took office.

Missouri votes for neutrality

Missouri delegates assembled and decided, at that time, not to secede. Secession, they believed, would be devastating to the state; but then, so would fighting for the Union. It was their decision to stay neutral and not participate in the war at all. Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson, however, didn't think they would have a choice, and he had no intentions of fighting their sister states.

Lincoln takes office

Lincoln was sworn in as the 16th President on March 4, 1861. In his inaugural address, Lincoln refused to acknowledge the Confederacy as a separate nation. He said, "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so."

He continued, "Resolved, That the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the States, and especially the right of each States to order and control its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment exclusively, is essential to that balance of power on which the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depend; and we denounce the lawless invasion by armed force on the soil of any State or Territory, no matter what pretext, as among the gravest of crimes."

Fort Sumter

A month later, President Lincoln sent supplies and fresh troops to Fort Sumter in South Carolina, an invasion he had just promised not to do. South Carolina defended themselves and went down in history, a history written by the north, as firing the first shots.

Lincoln immediately called for 75,000 troops from each of the remaining states to put down the insurrection. While not all Southern governors were for secession, they did realize the Constitution gave the President no authority to wage war against any sovereign state. Responses varied but were similar to that of Governor Ellis of North Carolina whose telegraph read, "I can be no party to this wicked violation of the laws of this country, and especially to this war which is being waged upon a free and independence people."

Virginia seceded on April 17. Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina seceded in May.

Missouri negotiates for neutrality`

Governor Jackson was for secession, but Missouri had voted for neutrality. The people wanted to stay out of the war all together. Against his better judgment, Governor Jackson and ex-Governor Sterling Price, now Major-General commanding the state's forces, arranged a meeting at the Planters' House in St. Louis with General Lyon. They were accompanied by Col. Thomas L. Snead who was an Aid of the Governor. Lyon was accompanied by Col. Frank P. Blair and Maj. Conant.

After four or five hours, Lyon said, "Rather than concede to the State of Missouri the right to demand that my Government shall not enlist troops within her limits, or bring troops into the State whenever it pleases, or move its troops at its own will into, out of, or through the State; rather than concede to the State of Missouri for one single instant the right to dictate to my Government in any matter however, unimportant, I would (rising as he said this and pointing in turn to every one in the room) see you, and you, and you, and every man, woman, and child in the State, dead and buried." Then, turning to the Governor, he said, "This means war. In an hour one of my officers will call for you and conduct you out of my lines."

Missouri captured

Jackson, Price, and Snead hurriedly returned to the capital in Jefferson City. They advised the people and government officials that neutrality was not an option. The city was evacuated. Government records and assets were taken or hidden as duly elected officials and military personnel headed up the Missouri River to Boonville.

General Lyon was close behind them and, finding the city empty, left Union troops to occupy the capital and followed the Governor up river.

The first land battle west of the Mississippi took place just outside Boonville. Lasting only about 20 minutes, the skirmish scattered the home boys who headed south as the Union took Boonville.

Missouri secedes

According to A History of Missouri, Vol. III, 1860 to 1875 by William E. Parrish, Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson, representing a government-in-exile, declared on August 5, 1861, at New Madrid that Missouri was an independent and sovereign state. (p. 33) In Neosho, on October 28, what was left of the 21st General Assembly seceded from the Union. This was signed by the governor on November 3 at Cassville. By the end of the month, Missouri was the 12th state to join the Confederacy. (p. 39) At least three other sources confirm this.

Confederate Military History/Missouri, by Col. John C. Moore
A Tour Guide to the Civil War, by Alice Hamilton Cromie
Encyclopedia Americana, c/2003


Civil War In Missouri, General Lyon, Governor Jackson

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author avatar Annie69
History column appears weekly in local newspaper. Also news, human interest, and pictures. My fiction and poems have appeared in literary anthologies and I've written 3 novels

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author avatar M G Singh
27th Sep 2015 (#)

Interesting info

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author avatar Annie69
28th Sep 2015 (#)

Thanks. I have been informed there are minutes of the secession meeting at the capital and I'm only an hour away from Jefferson City. I can't wait to check out those records.

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