Guide to Civil War Resources at the Missouri State Archives
Office of the Secretary of State
The Secretary of State is the keeper of the Great Seal of Missouri, authenticating official acts of the Governor. The Secretary affixes the seal to a variety of documents, including commissions, appointments, proclamations and executive orders, extraditions, and commutations. In addition, as the state's chief elections officer, the Secretary administers all statewide elections, including ballot preparation and candidate filings, for candidates and issues, and interprets state election laws. The Secretary of State's office is one of the most diverse in state government. It provides regulatory services through the Securities Division, literacy programs through the State Library, and manages current and historical records of the state, ensuring access to Missouri citizens.
Record Group 005: Office of the Secretary of State: Commissions Division , Gubernatorial Appointments, 1838 - 1875;arranged chronologically, then alphabetically by name of commission.
The governor is required by statute to make appointments to a variety of state boards and commissions. The Secretary of State attests to these commissions by affixing the Great Seal; copies are then maintained at the Missouri State Archives. Files in the Gubernatorial Appointments series are most often comprised of an official letter, on the governor's stationery, stating appointment to a particular commission. The letter indicates the names of the persons appointed, place of residence, and length of term. (See RG 003: Governors' Papers. On occasion, additional materials, such as resumes or letters of support are included. These items are most often found in an Appointments series within the papers of a particular governor's collection.). The appointment process was particularly infused with politics during the nineteenth century, as various political parties and groups attempted to gain favor and influence in government affairs through a commission position.
Record Group 005: Office of the Secretary of State: Commissions Division, Pardon Papers, 1837 - 1875; arranged chronologically, then alphabetically by surname .
This series contains the evidence upon which a governor based his action regarding the request for pardon from a crime or prison term. The evidence in the files varies but typically includes a formal application for pardon, petitions for and arguments against granting pardon, reports from the prosecuting attorney and the presiding judge, and conduct reports from the penitentiary warden. Among these documents are records requesting pardons for imprisoned abolitionists, such as George Thompson, as well as records requesting pardons for various African American prisoners, some who were former slaves, and possibly military prisoners. Requests for pardons are often included in the Governors' Papers (See Record Group 003: Governors' Papers).
Record Group 005: Office of the Secretary of State: Commissions Division, Register of Civil Officers, 1820-1928 (incomplete); arranged topically and chronologically, varies from volume to volume.
This series contains lists of civil officers commissioned in the State of Missouri. Although the title and arrangement vary, the general form of entry is a single line for each name, giving information under the following column headings: date of commission or appointment, office, name of officer, place of residence (county), expiration of term, how appointed or elected, term of service, and remarks. Various volumes include state, national, and county officers.
Under the last heading, “Remarks,” there is information regarding the breakdown of local government during the Civil War, and the effects of the stringent oaths of loyalty during the Reconstruction era.
Record Group 005: Office of the Secretary of State: Commissions Division, Register of Civil Proceedings, 1837-1878; arranged chronologically, index available.
This series contains a daily account of all the official acts of the governor, as required to be kept by the Secretary of State. Entries document appointments, commissions, extraditions, commutations of sentence, pardons, various certifications (e.g. state citizenship, elected officials), requisitions, writs of election, rewards, state bonds, and land patents.
Record Group 005: Office of the Secretary of State: Commissions Division, Writs of Election, 1838-1875; arranged chronologically.
This collection includes writs of election, resignations, special elections, commissions, notice of elections, etc. These are notices to the election authorities of state counties (usually sheriff or coroner) indicating the necessity of holding elections within said counties for the purpose of filing vacancies in various offices, including state representative, state senator, circuit court judges, congressional members, etc.
During the 1860s, writs were also issued to fill vacancies in the state convention. These vacancies existed due to death and resignation; in some cases, the State Convention expelled members, including former governor Sterling Price, banned by a resolution of the Convention in June 1862. The writs are limited in details, only stating the reason for the vacancy, but not why a particular member was expelled or resigned, etc. After the war, some vacancies were attributed to failure to file the oath of loyalty, prescribed by the 1865 state constitution. Others cited failure to hold legal registration and election, or failure to elect a member, often due to failure of candidates to file an oath of loyalty.
The writs are issued and signed by the governor, and attested to by the Secretary of State.
The collection also includes results of special elections held in various counties; a few oaths of loyalty, some on printed blanks, others handwritten; and petitions for commissions, as well as commissions issued.
Record Group 005: Office of the Secretary of State: Elections Division, Election Returns, 1844-1875; arranged chronologically.
This series includes official election returns for candidates in primary, general, and special elections held within the State of Missouri. The results are for United State president; statewide officials, including governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state treasurer, state auditor, attorney general; United States House of Representatives; the Missouri Senate and the Missouri House of Representatives; state Supreme Court judges; and some county officials. The series also includes official results for statewide ballot issues, including the 1876 St. Louis City/County split; calling for constitutional conventions in 1844, 1864, and 1875; voting on proposed constitutions in 1845, 1865, and 1875; and any subsequent constitutional amendments.
The returns are useful in identifying political trends through the antebellum, Civil War, and post-war reconstruction periods. For instance, the divisiveness of the slavery issue in 1860 created one of the most significant presidential elections in American history. This national election affected the individual states, leading to the immediate secession of southern states from the Union after Lincoln's victory. While Missouri did not secede, neither did it support Lincoln's bid. He received only 17,028 votes from the state; not a single one came from Clay County, where residents correctly determined the Republican Party's success would mean the destruction of slavery.
See also Record Group 005: Office of the Secretary of State: Special Collections, various series.
Record Group 005: Office of the Secretary of State: Special Collections , Constitutions and Constitutional Conventions, 1845 - 1875; arranged chronologically .
Missouri's first state constitution was written in 1820. In subsequent years, the constitution was revised to reflect a growing state population, state government organization, and public attitudes. Extant versions of these documents are available for 1845 (proposed, never adopted), 1865 (adopted, known as “Drake Constitution), and 1875 (adopted; rewritten in 1945). In addition, this series contains additional information from the constitutional conventions. Included are original and printed daily journals, expense accounts, committee rosters and reports, and more.
During the 1845 constitutional convention, delegates attempted to restrict legislative power. Reapportionment of representatives proved to be the “most absorbing question” for them. Voters overwhelmingly rejected the rewritten constitution in August 1846, though, because its restrictive anti-banking and anti-corporation proposals conflicted with a new era in state growth. The 1845 papers include accounts of the members and officers, including statement of expenses such as pay, mileage, supplies, and printing. Committee reports and various petitions presented to the convention, such as those regarding the abolition of slavery in Missouri, comprise the remainder of the collection.
One outcome of the Civil War was the development of a new state Constitution in 1865, known as the "Drake" constitution after the dominating figure of the convention, Charles Drake. Among its objectives, written by anti-slavery Radicals, was the development of amendments restricting the elective franchise to loyal citizens who had not participated in the recent hostility against the United States. Professionals were required to take an oath of loyalty to the constitution of the United States and Missouri; failure to take the oath resulted in strict punishment. In addition to discussing United States colored infantries, African American suffrage, and segregated schools, convention members also decided to shorten the length of gubernatorial terms, from four years to two. This collection contains the proceedings of the convention, miscellaneous correspondence, and reports and resolutions.
Most draconian provisions, including the “Ironclad Oath” that restricted voting rights to Union loyalists, were removed from the constitution by 1870. When the Democratic Party resumed power of the state government in 1874, however, one of its first moves was to call for a constitutional convention. A common distrust of state legislatures in the late nineteenth century led delegates to include tough restrictions on the powers of the General Assembly, regulated by over thirty new sections, many of which abolished special and local laws. In an effort to prevent over-taxing, delegates also placed strict financial limitations on both state and local governments. These efforts to control government led to an extremely detailed constitution, including a mandate for separate schools for African American students. This collection includes a daily account of convention debates, amendments, committee reports, and resolutions. Published versions of the debates and journals for this convention are available, as well.
Every proposed constitution or constitutional amendment must be put to a vote of the people. Researchers may also wish to consult Record Group 005: Office of the Secretary of State: Elections Division, Election Returns to identify how particular districts and areas in the state voted on various measures or amendments.
Record Group 005: Office of the Secretary of State: Special Collections , Missouri-Kansas Border War, 1858 - 1860; arranged chronologically .
Slavery expansion dominated the political atmosphere of the 1850s and attempts to implement popular sovereignty in Kansas led to over a decade of turmoil on the Missouri-Kansas border. Conflict arose between citizens on both sides of the issue and the border, escalating into violent raids. Searching for a solution, Missouri's Governor Robert M. Stewart corresponded with the governor of the Kansas Territory about introducing state troops to patrol the border. The Kansas leader agreed to the proposal and established a similar patrol in Kansas; working together, the governors calmed rising tensions. This collection consists of the incoming and outgoing correspondence of Governor Stewart during the border difficulties. Most of the letters are between Stewart and Missouri's adjutant general; however, the collection also includes correspondence between Stewart and Kansas ' territorial governors J.W. Denver and Samuel Medary. A variety of topics are addressed, including the Missouri Militia, Jayhawkers, slavery, John Brown, bushwhackers, conditions in border counties, and depopulation of the region.
Record Group 005: Office of the Secretary of State: Special Collections, Missouri State Convention, 1861-1863; arranged chronologically and topically within chronological order.
Following Lincoln's 1860 election, southern states began seceding from the Union. Missouri's newly-elected governor, Claiborne Fox Jackson, proposed a state convention to determine Missouri's course in the face of war; Sterling Price, former governor and later a general in the Confederate army, served as the convention president. The General Assembly called for the convention to meet in the spring of 1861, with the stipulation that any action taken by the group should be submitted to a vote of the people before becoming final. The group of men elected proved to have a cautious attitude about secession and concluded there was no immediate cause for Missouri to leave the Union. The convention adjourned in December 1861, with the provision that it could be recalled if necessary.
The convention was convened four more times between July 1861 and July 1863. In July 1861, after pro-Confederate Governor Jackson fled the state in the face of Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon's march on Jefferson City, a special committee reconvened the state convention to determine Missouri's future. The convention declared the executive offices vacant and appointed a Provisional Government, with Hamilton R. Gamble governor. Gamble recalled the convention in October 1861 to reorganize the state militia and sort out Missouri's finances. In June 1862, the convention redistricted the state following the 1860 census, arranged absentee voting for the military, and resolved that the Provisional Government continue for two years (until 1864). Gamble called the convention one last time, in July 1863, to deal with the question of gradual emancipation for Missouri slaves.
This collection of documents includes the act providing for calling a state convention, dated January 21, 1861; the convention's resolutions regarding the impending civil war and secession; committee reports; various communications; minutes, ordinances, including those establishing the loyalty oath in 1862, and roll calls; election certificates and election results; and convention accounts.