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Road to Civil War
The slave population
in Missouri grew alongside the general population.
The majority of slaves who came into Louisiana before
1800 were sold to planters in the lower part of
the territory; however a few hundred were sent to
the Missouri lead mines. After the War of 1812,
settlers in Missouri came largely from Kentucky,
Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina, which increased
the slave population. In 1810, 17.5 percent of the
population was enslaved. By 1830, the amount grew
to 21.7 percent. During the following decades, immigration
from the Upper-Mississippi Valley increased, working
to decrease the percentage of slaves. Relatively
few plantations were found in Missouri. Here, most
slaves worked in domestic service, as opposed to
the single crop plantations common to the south.
Most of the slaves could be found in the river valley
counties and across Little Dixie. Because of ample
waterways, slave trade was big business in St. Louis.
In 1854, Stephen Douglas,
Chairman of the Committee of Territories in the
U.S. Senate, pushed a bill through Congress that
called for slavery to be allowed in Kansas Territory,
thus repealing the Missouri Compromise. The bill
failed to pass and Kentucky was opened to decision
by popular sovereignty, or in other words the citizens
of the state would decide. Missourians were very
interested in the westward expansion of slavery,
and many Missourians crossed the border into Kansas
to settle. As a result, anti-slavery towns were
founded in Kansas to offset the pro-slavery advocates
flooding in. From this point on, the battle for
slavery in Kansas became extensive and violent.
The violence concerning slavery in Kansas came to
be known as "Bleeding Kansas." Senator Atchison
of Missouri took the lead in urging the South to
help fight for slavery in Kansas, and Alabama responded
by sending a party of 300 for support. On May 4,
1856, John Brown, his four sons, his son-in-law,
and two others rode to Dutch Henry's Crossing and
murdered five pro-slavery men. This was just one
example of the violence during this time. Groups
of "Border Ruffians" murdered anti-slavery advocates;
a hatchet wound to the skull killed one man.
The Civil War
Although a slave state,
Missouri sided with the Union during the Civil War.
Missouri's allegiance was a great concern because
of her manpower, rivers, and natural resources.
Most Missouri residents wanted to remain neutral,
but there were some key Confederate supporters in
the state, including the governor, Claiborne F.
Jackson. When Lincoln called on Missouri for volunteers
in 1861, Governor Jackson refused and sent state
troops to take control of the state's U.S. Arsenal
in Camp Davis near St. Louis. The commander of the
arsenal, Captain Nathaniel Lyon, learned of Jackson's
intentions and secretly moved the weapons to Illinois.
Lyon marched 7,000 men to Camp Jackson and forced
its surrender. He then took Jefferson City, the
state capital. Governor Jackson and his troops fled
to southeast Missouri. Meanwhile, 12,000 Confederate
soldiers were building under Major General Sterling
Price who was planning to take the entire state.
Despite Lyon's inferior numbers, he decided to attack
the Confederate forces. He concluded that a surprise
attack at Wilson's Creek would be their best chance
at victory. On a ridge at Wilson's Creek, that came
to be known as Bloody Creek, the battle between
the Union and Confederate forces raged for over
five hours. General Lyon was killed, and both sides
suffered extensive injuries. The Confederates won
the battle, but they were wounded to the extent
that they could not follow the Union soldiers, and
the state remained under Union control. This battle
marked the beginning of the Civil War in Missouri.
For the remainder of the war, the state was home
to savage battles and many guerilla attacks. By
the time the war came to an end in 1865, Missouri
had racked up so many battles and skirmishes that
it ranked the third most fought-in state during
Missouri sent about
sixty percent of eligible men to fight in the war.
Over 30,000 men fought for the Confederacy, and
over 109,000 men fought for the Union. Over 18,000
Missouri men died in the war; 14,000 Union soldiers
and 4,000 Confederate soldiers.
from the other slave states farther south because
the black population in Missouri wasn't very large.
The 1870 census showed that only 6.9 percent of
the population was African-American. Many Missouri
slaves left for free states during the war. Of those
who remained, the majority was concentrated in the
counties along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers,
and in St. Louis. The Freedmen's Bureau, set up
to help former slaves start their free lives, established
their headquarters in St Louis and branches throughout
Missouri. The Bureau distributed rations, arranged
labor contracts, assisted couples in obtaining official
marriage ceremonies, and set up a school system
for black children. Many former slaves left the
countryside and went to the cities to escape their
masters and find work, but because of insufficient
labor demands in the cities, many had to return
to the countryside working on farms for low wages.
Those who stayed in the cities worked as laborers,
laundresses, draymen, and boatmen. Blacks also established
their own Baptist and Methodist churches.
Missouri did not receive
many of the eastern and southern European immigrants
who came to America in the millions during the late
1800s, but St. Louis succeeded in attracting a few.
Italians and Croats were among the immigrant groups
who settled in St. Louis. A small number of northern
Italians came to St. Louis during mid-century. Sicilians,
Lombards, Piedmontese, Tuscans, and Calabrians (southern
Italians) did not come to St. Louis until the last
decades of the nineteenth century. These immigrants
settled in an area formerly inhabited by Germans,
Irish, and Jews, creating a "little Italy."
Many Italian immigrants peddled fruit, worked on
the railroads and in clay pits, factories, and brickyards.
As they became more established, many Italians entered
into the restaurant business.
Croats began to appear
in St Louis in 1862. They were mostly marines who
sailed up the Mississippi and stayed only a short
time. This influx-exit lasted until the 1880s when
some Croats decided to stay. The Croatian population
grew until WWI. The majority came as unskilled laborers
and found work digging ditches, mining, building
roads, and working in factories. Some established
themselves in the liquor business. In 1902, a group
of Croat Catholics organized the St. Joseph Croatian
Roman Catholic Church society, and two years later
they transformed an old Jewish synagogue into a
Italians and Croatians
were not the only southern and eastern European
immigrants to come to St. Louis. Serbians, Lebanese,
Syrians, and Greeks also came in small numbers,
and their experience was similar to the Italians
and the Croats. Most immigrants worked as unskilled
laborers in factories or on the railroads. They
usually settled in ethnic communities, living in
substandard housing. Although St. Louis did not
receive immigrants in numbers that compare to cities
like Philadelphia or Chicago, the influx of immigrants
in the late nineteenth century helped diversify
and shape the city into what it is today.