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Doc 163. Claiborne Jackson's Declaration of the Independence of the State of Missouri. August 5, 1861.

In the exercise of the right reserved to the people of Missouri by the treaty under which the United States acquired the temporary dominion of the country west of the Mississippi River, in trust for the several sovereign States afterward to be formed out of it, that people did, on the twelfth day of June, one thousand eight hundred and twenty, “mutually agree to form and establish a free and independent republic by the name of the State of Missouri.” On the tenth day of August, eighteen hundred and twenty-one, the State was duly admitted into the Union of the United States of America, under the compact called the Constitution of the United States, and “on equal footing with the original States in all respects whatever.” The freedom, independence, and sovereignty of Missouri, and her equality with the other States of the Union, were thus guaranteed not only by that Constitution, but by the laws of nations requiring the sacred observance of treaties.

In repeated instances, the Government and people of the States now remaining in that Union have grossly violated, in their conduct toward the people and State of Missouri, both the Constitution of the United States and that of Missouri, as well as the general, great, and essential principles of liberty and free government. Their President, Abraham Lincoln, in avowed defiance of law and the Constitution of the United States, and under the tyrant's plea of necessity, has assumed to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the several States, stopping by violence our trade with our Southern neighbors, and depriving our citizens of the right secured to them by a special, solemn compact with the United States, to the free navigation of the Mississippi River. He has usurped powers granted exclusively to Congress, in declaring war against the Confederate States; to carry on this unholy attempt to reduce a free people into slavish subjection to him, he has, in violation of the Constitution, raised and supported armies, and provided and maintained a navy.

Regardless of the right reserved to the States respectively, of training the militia and appointing its officers, he has enlisted and armed, contrary to law, under the name of Home Guards, whole regiments of men, foreigners and others, in our State, to defy the constitutional authorities and plunder and murder our citizens. By armed force and actual bloodshed he has even attempted to deprive the people of their right to keep and bear arms, in conformity to the State laws, and to form a well-regulated militia necessary to the security of a free State. With his sanction his soldiers [480] have been quartered in houses without the consent of the owners thereof, and without any authority of law. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, has been habitually and grossly violated by his officers, acting under his orders. He has utterly ignored the binding force of our constitutional State laws, and carried his insolence to such an extent as to introduce, from other States, free negroes into our midst, and place them in positions of authority over our white citizens.

He has encouraged the stealing of our slave property. In these and other proceedings the Government and people of the Northern States have unmistakably shown their intention to overturn the social institutions of Missouri, and reduce her white citizens to an equality with the blacks. In the execution of his despotic wishes his agents, without even rebuke from him, have exhibited a brutality scarcely credible of a nation pretending to civilization. Even women and children of tender age have fallen victims to the unbridled license of his unfeeling soldiery. He has avowedly undertaken to make the civil power subordinate to the military; and with the despicable and cowardly design of thus protecting himself and his accomplices, by binding the consciences of the unhappy victims of his tyranny, he has exacted from peaceful citizens, guilty of no crime, an oath to support his detestable government. To crush out even peaceful and lawful opposition to it, he has forcibly and unconstitutionally suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, and abridged the freedom of speech and of the press by subjecting innocent citizens to punishment for mere opinion's sake, and by preventing the publication of newspapers independent enough to expose his treason to liberty.

These manifold and inhuman wrongs were long submitted to in patience, and almost in humility, by the people of Missouri and their authorities. Even when the conduct of the Lincoln Government had culminated in an open war upon us, those authorities offered to its military commander in Missouri to refer to the people of the State for decision of the question of our separation from a government and nation thus openly hostile to us. Those authorities relied on the principles consecrated in the Declaration of Independence of the United States, that, to secure the rights of citizens, “governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.” Missouri having an admitted equality with the original States which had made this Declaration, it was hoped that the rights therein asserted would not be denied to her people.

Her authorities also relied on the clause in the very Constitution with which she was admitted into the Union, asserting as one of the general, great, and essential principles of liberty and free government, “that the people of this State have the inherent, sole, and exclusive right of regulating the internal government and police thereof, and of altering and abolishing their Constitution and form of Government whenever it may be necessary to their safety and happiness.” But this military commander haughtily refused the consent of his Government to the exercise by us of these rights, which our ancestors in the last century endured an eight years war to vindicate. He but expressed, however, the deliberate purpose of his masters at Washington and the people over which they rule; for his predecessor at St. Louis had, a few weeks before, formally proclaimed to our people that our equality with the other States would be ignored; that we should be held in subjection to the North, even though the independence of our Southern sister States might be acknowledged; that, to use his own words, “whatever may be the termination of the unfortunate condition of things in respect to the so-called cotton States, Missouri must share the destiny of the Union;” that the free will of her people shall not decide her future, but that “the whole power of the Government of the United States, if necessary, will be exerted to maintain Missouri in the Union,” in subjection to the tyranny of the North.

The acts of President Lincoln have been endorsed by the Congress and people of the Northern States, and the war thus commenced by him has been made the act of the Government and nation over which he rules. They have not only adopted this war, but they have gone to the extreme of inciting portions of our people to revolt against the State authorities; by intimidation they have obtained control of the remnant left of a Convention deriving its powers from those authorities, and using it as a tool, they have through it set up an insurrectionary government in open rebellion against the State. No alternative is left us; we must draw the sword and defend our sacred rights.

By the recognized universal public law of all the earth, war dissolves all political compacts. Our forefathers gave as one of their grounds for asserting their independence, that the King of Great Britain had “abdicated government here by declaring us out of his protection, and waging war upon us.” The people and Government of the Northern States of the late Union have acted in the same manner toward Missouri, and have dissolved, by war, the connection heretofore existing between her and them.

The General Assembly of Missouri, the recognized political department of her government, [481] by an act approved May 10, 1861, entitled, “An act to authorize the Governor of the State of Missouri to suppress rebellion and repel invasion,” has vested in the Governor, in respect to the rebellion and invasion now carried on in Missouri by the Government and people of the Northern States and their allies, the authority “to take such measures as in his judgment he may deem necessary or proper to repel such invasion or put down such rebellion.”

Now, therefore, by virtue of the authority in me vested by said act, I, Claiborne F. Jackson, Governor of the State of Missouri, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of my intentions, and firmly believing that I am herein carrying into effect the will of the people of Missouri, do hereby, in their name, by their authority, and on their behalf, and subject at all times to their free and unbiased control, make and publish this provisional declaration, that by the acts, and people, and Government of the United States of America, the political connection heretofore existing between said States and the people and government of Missouri is, and ought to be, totally dissolved ; and that the State of Missouri, as a sovereign, free, and independent republic, has full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent States may of right do.

Published and declared at New Madrid, Missouri, this fifth day of August, in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and sixty-one.


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