Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Missouri Compromise: Glover Moore Spots Floyd Shoemaker Spotting Henry Geyer

In a recent post, The Missouri Compromise: Henry Geyer Spots a Flaw, I discussed Floyd Calvin Shoemaker's assertions that Henry Clay's compromise resolution resolving the second Missouri Crisis of 1821 may have inadvertently referred to the wrong paragraph of the Missouri Constitution of 1821, and the role that this mistake may have played in the willingness of the Missouri legislature to pass the "solemn act" required by the resolution.

The hawk-eyed Glover Moore was apparently also aware of Mr. Shoemaker's book and credited his observations. Here's Moore's take (paragraph breaks added):
The condition of admission imposed upon Missouri did not specifically refer to free Negroes and mulattoes. It merely provided that the fourth clause of the twenty-sixth section of the third article of the constitution of Missouri should never be construed to exclude citizens of another state from the benefit of the privileges and immunities granted them by the federal Constitution.

In the copy of the Missouri constitution which Congress had in its possession, the fourth clause . . . was the provision regarding the migration of free Negroes and mulattoes. [I would say Moore is wrong here; it was the fourth paragraph of the oddly-formatted section.] As the constitution was printed in Missouri, however, the fourth clause . . . referred to something else.

Because of this fact, some Missourians thought that Congress had made an error and had designated the wrong clause. They were willing to agree to the condition of admission, since they considered it to be meaningless as stated by Congress.

Moore cites Shoemaker's book, a contemporary newspaper report, and (for those of you with access to research libraries) Lucien Carr, "An Error in the Resolution of Congress admitting Missouri into the Union," in Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Second Series, XIII (1900), 448-54.

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