Guide to African American History

Record Group 005: Office of the Secretary of State, Special Collections, Constitutions and Constitutional Conventions (1845-1945)

This document is from the 1865 Constitutional Convention, written just before the end of the Civil War. During the war, Missouri was in the difficult position of being a Union state with countless southern sympathizers. With the end of war in sight, many citizens, Radical Republicans chief among them, felt a new constitution was in order. In February 1864, the General Assembly called for a vote on a convention and ordered that, if approved, the convention would first consider amendments deemed necessary for the emancipation of slaves and then determine how to maintain voting privileges for loyal citizens.

This ordinance was proposed at the constitutional convention that convened January 6, 1865, in St. Louis. Passed on January 11, 1865, the ordinance abolished slavery in Missouri; only four delegates voted against it. This document is significant in the state's history because it was approved three weeks before the United States Congress proposed the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing slavery in the United States, did not go into effect until December 18, 1865.

This document was one of those rescued from the burning Capitol building after it was struck by lightning on February 5, 1911. Although the Capitol was destroyed, many important documents were saved with varying degrees of damage.

Ordinance abolishing slavery in Missouri