Columbia College–Lake of the Ozarks 'story telling' history professor Jim Pasley commemorates 150th anniversary of the Civil War with article in the Lake Sun newspaper

This article appeared in the June 3rd edition of the Lake Sun newspaper.

Lesson 1: Politics leading into the war
Jim Pasley, Columbia College–Lake of the Ozarks history professor
To help commemorate the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, we asked Columbia College history professor Jim Pasley, also known as the ‘story telling’ teacher to give us a little more insight into the history of the war.

Read Lesson 2
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Read Lesson 4
Read Lesson 5
On Thursday, April 11, 1861, Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard, gave the order to open fire on Fort Sumter, a federal fort situated at the mouth of Charleston Harbor in South Carolina. This engagement triggered beginning of the Civil War.
The casualties of this war took a higher percentage of the American population than any war we have ever fought. The problem was, no matter who died, Union or Confederate, an American died.
President Abraham Lincoln immediately called on the states to supply 30,000 troops. The Governor of Missouri received this request and this was his response.
“Mr. President, your request is illegal, unconstitutional, revolutionary, inhuman, diabolical, and cannot be complied with. Not a man will the state of Missouri furnish to carry out such an unholy crusade!”
So, how did we get to this position? Through this series of articles, I hope to share with you the story of Missouri during the War Between the States. I’m told that’s what I do best. Tell stories. So let’s start with this rogue Governor.
Claiborne Fox Jackson, was a democrat in the Missouri House of Representatives, prior to being elected Governor. An interesting fact about the Governor is that he had married the daughter of Dr. John Sappington of Fayette. At the time, the governor was a young man with a successful mercantile business there in Fayette, Missouri. Unfortunately, Jackson’s wife died of a fever. So, he married the second daughter of Dr. Sappington. Several years later, Jackson’s second wife also died of a fever. So what did he do? You guessed it. He went back and married Dr. Sappington’s third daughter! Dr. Sappington is said to have stated at the wedding, “Don’t come back again, ‘cause you can’t have my wife!
 Jackson was elected Governor in August of 1860 and ran on a platform that stated he would keep Missouri in the Union in the event of Civil War. He won by a margin of 139,000 to 17,500. So it was clear where the majority of Missourian stood. Or so it appeared.
In the presidential election at the same time, there were 4 candidates.
Abraham Lincoln who was opposed to slavery.
John Bell who wanted to preserve the Union at all costs even if it meant slavery continued in the South.
John Breckenridge who was pro-slavery.
Stephen Douglas who pushed for popular sovereignty (Let the people of the state decide)
So, you had clear platforms on which to vote in the presidential election of 1860.
In Missouri, Stephen Douglas (popular sovereignty) took first.
John Bell (save the Union) took second. Breckenridge (pro-slavery) took third and Abraham Lincoln (opposed slavery) came in dead last.
As you can see, it is hard to tell exactly where Missouri stood. We elected a Governor who would keep us in the Union, but we voted for a president who would let the people of the state decide and rejected Lincoln’s anti slavery position.
Here is a key point. Slavery was the trigger to the Civil War, but the true underlying issue was state’s rights. Does the Federal Government have the right to tell a state what it can and cannot do? The Supreme Court had ruled that a slave is property, and the US Constitution guarantees citizens the right to life, liberty, and property.
If an issue is not specifically called out in the US Constitution, the states have jurisdiction. So, does the federal government have the right to tell a state they can’t have slaves (property)?  Don’t get me wrong. Slavery was an abominable practice. However, at that time, a slave was simply property and if the federal government could take your slaves, what would be next? My horse, my cattle?
As soon as Governor Jackson was elected he stated in his inaugural address “We owe it to our southern brethren to come to the aid of the South.” In other words, Jackson had tricked the people of Missouri and was a closet secessionist! He now called on the people of Missouri to meet in Jefferson City and to bring whatever arms they had to form a militia. In my next article we will talk about Governor Jackson and how he used his little army. 

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