Friday, February 26, 2010

Boone County Opposes Emancipation To The End

From: Missouri As It Is In 1867: an illustrated historical gazetteer of Missouri, p. 424.  See  the Missouri Digital Heritage web site at:


     THE following is the Emancipation ordinance and the votes taken on its final passage in the State Convention, on Tuesday, the 11th day of January, 1865.  It is a noble record, and one that in the future history of our State will be regarded with the profoundest admiration and gratitude.

An Ordinance Abolishing Slavery in Missouri.

Be it ordained by the people of the State of Missouri in convention assembled:

     That hereafter in this State there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except in punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted; and all persons held in service or labor as slaves, are hereby declared free.

Following the proclamation was the record of the vote.  There were 60 AYE votes and only 4 NAY votes.  One of those voting NAY was William F. Switzler, the representative from Boone county.  The other three NAY votes were by representatives from Platte, Callaway and Clay counties.

Many believe that Missouri’s slaves were freed by President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863.  In reality, the Emancipation Proclamation was limited in many ways. It applied only to states that had seceded from the Union, leaving slavery untouched in the loyal border states.  Missouri, of course, was one of those border states, so though abolitionists were encouraged, emancipation in Missouri had to await first, a military victory by the North, and then a State Convention.  As seen, Boone county, through our representative William F. Switzler, was defiant to the last.

It is also interesting to note that Mr. Switzler, who took part in the historical 1865 State Convention, only briefly referred to the Convention when he compiled the massive1882 history of his county and made no reference to his vote against the above ordinance abolishing slavery. (See p. 474 of the History of Boone County Missouri.)

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