Who was Turner anyway?

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Governor’s Message to Extra Session.


May 1861

From The Missouri Democrat, Friday, May 3, 1861.

Governor’s Message to Extra Session.


Gentlemen of the Senate and House of Representatives:

I had no reason to anticipate when you adjourned, that circumstances would soon arise which would render it my imperative duty to call you together again. It is deeply to be regretted that such a step has to be taken at a season of the year when time is so pressing, and the loss of it in your private affairs must occasion such serious inconvenience. I am confident, however, that you have not reluctantly responded to the call, and that the objects for which you have assembled can be promptly and unanimously accomplished in a very few days. Since your adjournment, events affecting the peace and safety of the country have been transpiring with almost the rapidity of a thought, and of a nature well calculated to awaken in the bosom of every patriot the most gloomy apprehensions. Manifestations from every quarter, and of a character neither to be overlooked or disregarded indicate but too plainly that our whole country, its Constitution and laws in imminent danger of disorder and destruction. Our federal Constitution, born of a once united and happy people, was framed by the delegates of distinct and separate States, and severally ratified by them in their sovereign capacity of States. This Constitution emanated from men who were guided by intelligence and patriotism, and taught by the lessons of experience and history, and whose minds were illuminated by the lights of philosophy and wisdom. Its object was to establish equality and justice between the States, and to insure domestic tranquility within them. Had the same spirit of justice and patriotism which animated these men who devised it, guided the people of the free States in the proper observance of its obligations to the present hour, we would now have a united, prosperous and happy Union, instead of a distracted and broken confederacy. There has been no necessary conflict of interest between the North and the South, the East and the West. Varieties of climate, locality and product, involved, it is true, constrasting but not conflicting organizations of labor and social strictures, animated by different but not adverse principles, but the progress of fanaticism, sectionalism, and cupidity in the Northern States for the last quarter of a century has, with accumulating force, culminated in the triumph of a purely sectional faction, who under the form, but in violation of the principles of the Constitution, threaten to destroy the sovereignty of the States and practically convert the government of the United States into one overshadowing, consolidated despotism. The present Executive of the United States seems to regard the States, in their relations to the federal government, as similar to those which counties bear to State sovereignties. A perversion so monstrous and so dangerous, all wise and reflecting men foresaw must end in the dissolution of the Confederacy, and that result has not taken us by surprise. Prior to the inauguration of President Lincoln, seven States had seceded. They had united with each other, under a new Constitution, elected their officers, organized armies, institutied judicial tribunals, and asserted all the powers rightfully belonging to the sovereign States. To this they were impelled by well founded apprehensions of imminent danger to all their vital interests, and by a consciousness that everything dear to them was directly menaced by the predominance of a faction avowedly hostile to their very existence as communities. For calamities so deplorable the people of Missouri cannot be reproached. They have preserved with scrupulous fidelity their attachment to the Constitution and the Union. They have asked for nothing which was not their right. They have done nothing in abrogation of the rights of others. They have patiently submitted to many and great injuries for the sake of peace. They have ever counseled concord and fraternity. Their statute books have not been defaced by enactments in contravention to the Constitution and the large made in pursuance thereof. They have been slow to believe that designs destructive of their rights and interests could be entertained by the Administration of Mr. Lincoln. They refused to see in his inaugural any purpose of introducing the horrors of civil war. They have cordially united in every effort of the people of the border States to effect such a compromise as would secure the rights and honor of all; restore fraternal feelings; reconstruct the Union, and impart new vigor to the Constitution. Their counsels and their rights have been alike unheeded. The old confederacy is broken, a new one has been organized by a portion of the States, and President Lincoln, by his proclamation calling out a force of seventy-five thousand men to subdue these States, has threatened a destructive civil war between the States. On the 15th day of April I received a dispatch from the Secretary of War, calling on me to furnish the government of Washington to aid in the prosecution of the civil war about to be inaugurated. I am sure I gave utterance to the universal heart of the people when I replied that Missouri would not furnish one man to assist in such a war. The action of the President is evidently unconstitutional and illegal, and will only lead to still further alienate the people of the free and slaveholding States in their opinions and sentiments. In confirmation of this opinion it is sufficient to say, that the power to coerce a State by the federal government was proposed in the convention that framed the Constitution, in several different forms, and rejected, and it is an insult to the common sense of the people to assert that a war upon individuals acting under the authority of the State, and by virtue of its commission, or in obedience to the government, is not a war upon the State. The President, it appears, has not only discovered the power in the government to make war upon the States, but has assumed that the executive department can initiate that war. Neither Washington, nor Jefferson, nor Jackson, ever for a moment imagined that they were clothed with such a despotic powere as this! On the contrary we have been taught by the following language in the farewell address of General Jackson, that the harmony and permanency of the Union could only be perpetuated by such a policy as would command the love and confidence of the people of the several States. He said: “But the constitution cannot be maintained, nor the Union perpetuated in opposition to public feeling, by the mere exertion of the coercive power confided to the government. The foundations must be laid in the affections of the people—in the security it gives to life, liberty, character and property in every quarter of the country, and in the fraternal attachments which the citizens of the several States bear to one another as members of one political family, mutually contributing to promote the happiness of each other.” We have also been warned by John Quincy Adams, that the permanency of the Union rested not in the coercive power of the federal government, but in the love and affections of the people. His opinions were expressed in regard to the perpetuity of the government in the following strong and healthful language: “The indissoluble link of union between the people of the several States of this confederated nation, is, after all, not in the sight, but in the heart. If the day should ever come (may heaven avert it) when the affections of the people of these States shall be alienated from each other—when the fraternal spirit shall give way to cold indifference, or collisions of interest shall fester into hatred, the bonds of political association will not long hold together parties no longer attracted by the magnetism of conciliating interests and kindly sympathies; and far better will it be for the people of the disunited States to part in friendship from each other, than to be held together by constraint.” But the lessons of wisdom taught by the abler and purer statesmen of the country seem to be unheeded by the present administration. His policy is rapidly tending to revolution, and unless speedily arrested will end in ruin and disaster to the hitherto prosperous and happy people of the American continent.

The great and patriotic State of Virginia, after having failed in all her efforts to readjust the Union, has at last yielded in despair, and has seceded from the old federal Union. North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas, it is believed, will rapidly follow in the footsteps of Virginia, and Kentucky is profoundly moved on this great question. Our interests and sympathies are identical with those of the slaveholding States, and necessarily unite our destinies with theirs. The similarity of our social and political institutions—our industry and interests—our sympathies, habits and tastes—our common origin and territorial contiguity, all concur in pointing out our duty in regard to the separation which is now taking place between the States of the old federal Union.

In the meantime, in my judgment, it is indispensable to our safety that we should emulate the policy of all the other States in arming our people and placing our State in a proper attitude for defense.

The militia law should be revised and rendered more efficient. A good system of drill and discipline should also be adapted, in order to place ourselves in a position where our rights can be defended with strong arms and willing hearts.

Missouri has, at this time, no war to prosecute. It is not her policy to make aggressions on any State or people; but, in the present state of the country, she would be faithless to her honor and recreant in her duty were she to hesitate a moment in making the most ample preparation for the protection of her people against the aggressions of all assailants.

I therefore respectfully recommended the appropriation of a sufficient sum of money to place the State at the earliest practicable moment in a complete state of defense.

In conclusion, permit me to appeal to you, and through you to the whole people of the State, to whom we are all responsible, to do nothing imprudently or precipitously. We, gentlemen, have a most solemn duty to perform. Let us, then, calmly reason one with another—avoid all passion and tendency to tumult or disorder—obey implicitly the law and the constituted authorities, and endeavor, ultimately, to unite all our citizens in cordial co-operation for the preservation of our honor, the security of our property, and the performance of all those high duties imposed upon us by our obligations to our families, our country, and our God.

Respectfully, C. F. JACKSON.