Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Midlist Writer blog, where he talks about writing, adventure travel, caving, and everything else he gets up to. He also reproduces all the posts from Civil War Horror, so drop on by!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S is for Slavery in Civil War Missouri

We're now more than halfway through the April A to Z Challenge. I've been meeting lots of interesting bloggers!

Continuing in the more serious vein that I started yesterday, today I want to briefly discuss slavery in Civil War Missouri. Slavery there was of a different character than in many other states. Most slave owners had only one or two slaves, and worked alongside them in the fields. The giant plantations we think of when we imagine the Antebellum South were a rarity in Missouri. The only large-scale use of slaves was for hemp cultivation, which required exacting manual labor.

The first generations of white immigrants into Missouri were mainly from Southern states and they brought their ideas and slaves with them. Starting in the 1840s, however, a large number of German immigrants arrived. Many were refugees from social upheavals back home where they tried, and failed, to improve the lot of the peasant. They looked upon slavery as another form of exploitation. Also, Americans from Northern states started to arrive at the booming river ports such as St. Louis.

At the start of the war, urban areas were generally Unionist, while rural areas were generally secessionist. The Union army quickly took control of the state, and ironically this kept many slaves in bondage. The Emancipation Proclamation of 1862 only freed slaves in states then in rebellion. Since Missouri wasn't in rebellion, slavery continued nearly to the end of the war.

Arkansas, however, was considered a state in rebellion, so many Arkansas slaves fled north to Missouri, where they were set free. Some settled in St. Louis, while others took (or were forced to take) jobs with the Union army. Many of the men joined black regiments like the First Kansas Colored Volunteers.

Once the slaves were freed and the war ended, black Missourians had other hurdles to overcome. Segregation laws were soon put in place as a result of white fear of what all these former slaves might do with their freedom.

Eastman Johnson's Ride for Liberty courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sean .. slavery is a tricky subject - and very difficult to understand ... somehow we have to put ourselves into those times.

    Cheers Hilary


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