Germans and Emancipation
Arnold Krekel, was born in Germany in 1815, served as President of Missouri’s Constitutional Convention when slavery was abolished on January 11, 1865. He emigrated with his family to Dutzow, Missouri in November of 1832. The young man moved to St. Charles and attended the St. Charles College where he studied law. He worked as a surveyor and became a Justice of the Peace as well. In 1844 he graduated the bar and opened his law office. Krekel became the St. Charles County and city attorney from 1846 to 1850. He was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 1852. Krekel was editor of the St. Charles German newspaper, Der Demokrat from 1850 until 1864, and when the Civil War began, Krekel served in the Union Army, as Colonel of a regiment of Missouri volunteers.
When the Civil War began, Missouri’s plans for gradual emancipation infuriated the Radical Republicans, who wanted slavery abolished immediately. They took their grievances to Lincoln, who refused to take sides in Missouri’s politics, which infuriated them even more. Provisional Governor Gamble offered to resign, but the First Constitutional Convention would not accept it. Gamble died in office on 31 January 1864. Missouri’s radicals arranged for elections and for a new Constitutional Convention in November 1864, where they elected Thomas C. Fletcher Missouri governor.
Constitutional Convention of 1865
Arnold Krekel, a Democrat, was elected President of the new Constitutional Convention that met in the Mercantile Library in St. Louis on January 6, 1865. On January 11, 1865 the convention, by a 60 to 4 vote, abolished slavery in the state with no compensation for slave owners. A month later the convention also adopted the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution to abolish slavery throughout the U.S..
On March 6, 1865, Krekel was nominated by President Lincoln to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, and confirmed on March 9, 1865. Krekel later taught law at the University of Missouri Law School in Columbia from 1872 to 1875, and continued to as a Judge for the Court until his retirement on June 9, 1888.
Opening next month – German Immigrant Abolitionists: Fighting for a Free Missouri
From February 12 to May 15, 2016 at Saint Louis University, Center for Global Citizenship, in Seminar Room 124, an exhibit “German Immigrant Abolitionists: Fighting for a Free Missouri” will be open. On February 12, 2016 there will be an opening reception with Dr. Sydney Norton who will give a Curator’s talk at 4 pm. Public viewing at other times is by appointment only. Call 314-977-9326 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. You may also visit http://www.slu.edu/department-of-languages-literatures-and-cultures/news-and-events/german-abolitionist-exhibition where more information can be found.