Who was Turner anyway?

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Position of Missouri.


January/February 1861

From The Missouri Democrat, Saturday, January 12, 1861.

Position of Missouri.

The question is continually asked where will Missouri go in case of a dissolution of the Union?  The questioner seems generally to suppose that Missouri may do just as she pleases, and unite herself to the North or South as a matter of choice.  The best reflection I can give to the subject, is, that she will have scarcely any choice at all.  I do not mean to diminish the position of the State.  She is a noble commonwealth, great in her area of surface, great in her rich lands, great in agricultural, mineral, and commercial resources, great in her already developed and accumulated wealth, great in her people, numerically, intellectually and morally.  Honor to our proud and powerful young commonwealth, say I—and no man shall or can say more in her favor than I will.  But is one omnipotent?  No, she is not.  She is only one of a number of great and growing States like herself.  Any two or three of them united against her would overpower and control her.  Any policy she might adopt would have to meet with approbation and support outside of herself, or she would never maintain it.

Let us suppose first, that on the dissolution of the Union, two confederacies should be formed, one of the slave, the other of the free States.  Missouri belongs in this case to the slave confederacy politically, while geographically she is in the free confederacy.  No one supposes that Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska or Kansas, will be impregnated with slavery.  No, they will remain free.  They will most probably absorb by a sponge-like operation our colored population.  The fugitive slave law will have ceased to exist, and niggerism will rapidly evaporate in that direction.  Governor Jackson will have his army at work of course, but he will not be able to carry on war very successfully with so many and so large surrounding States.  But let me concede that the plan of our able Governor to perpetuate slavery in Missouri, by an army, is successful, and Missouri under this regime will remain and flourish as a nigger State in the Southern Confederacy.  There are yet other difficulties in her path as such—the Northern Confederacy must have a right of way into the Western territory;  she will not be willing to travel round Missouri for that purpose; the free States out West must have a right of way over Missouri towards the East, and they will demand it; the Northern Confederacy must have a right of way to the Pacific; she will not be willing to allow Missouri to cut her off.  The Northern Confederacy may wish her people to ascend the Missouri river—she will not be willing to pay tolls for that privilege.  Should she look at these things in this manner, she will either treat for and purchase our State, or what is more probable, she will overrun and conquer us almost immediately; that she could do this if she would, is too plain for controversy.  That she will want Missouri as an essential and necessary point of the Northern Confederacy may be determined by looking at the map.  The question then is not whether Missouri will wish to go South, but whether she will have the power to do it.  I will even suppose that when the Union is dissolved, and Missouri had taken her position in the Southern Confederacy, that no bitterness ensues—that kindness and comity will prevail—that no attempt will be made to close our navigable rivers against the people of the free States round us—but that travel and navigation will remain unrestricted, and trade will be free between Missouri and the people round her.  Will this help her stay South?  By no means.  Such free communion would relieve us of the Governor’s army; but it would be death to our peculiar institution.  A free population would overflow us, and niggerism would evaporate more rapidly than before.

The only remaining inquiry is, will the Southern confederacy undertake to defend so distant and feeble an outpost of her empire as Missouri?  I opine not.  It is certain that without help Missouri could never sustain herself as a part of the Southern confederacy; and it is equally certain that she would never get such help.  But let us concede that the South would not be suspicious of Missouri’s free soil proclivities—would not be fearful of her giving up the divine institution—would be willing to pay our the millions which her defence as a province would cost, and fight for her into the bargain.

The last and controling question is, could the South, by all the power she possesses, hold Missouri as a Southern province?  The Southern people are some seven or eight millions of free whites, and four millions of slaves.  The Northern people are some eighteen millions of free whites.  The South would never undertake an offensive war under such circumstances; and if she did she would be beaten.  Missouri, therefore, could not, if she wished, become an integral part of the South; she is too far north, and the North will be her protector.