In 1820, the residents of the Missouri Territory applied for Statehood. A battle would ensue over the issue of Slavery which was settled by the Missouri Compromise. Many historians would later say, this was the true beginning of the Civil War., as she entered the Union as a slave state.
In October of 1824, a German attorney named Gottfried Duden investigated the possibilities for Germans, seeking a better life. He would write a Report on his Journey, in a small publication that would be just the right words at just the right moment. Germany’s population was overflowing, overcrowded and suffering from famine. Oppressive rulers dictated every movement. Missouri was the land of opportunity, with freedom for all. Only they soon realized, it really did NOT include all.
Over 120,000 Germans would immigrate to Missouri in the 1830s, and a third of them chose Missouri. It would totally change the demographics of the State, and become one of the most German in the country. Where the foreign born population was huge, and the majority were German. The Germans would understand oppression and serfdom, and racism when they were threatened and told to go home. Then the German population grew as thousands more joined those early immigrants. The Revolutions of ’48 would bring thousands more, that were radical and willing to get involved and push for change! And push they did, against the slave patrols, against the elite and wealthy slave owners, and against the ugly institution called slavery.
Some would refer to Missouri as a “Union Occupied” slave state. It was “occupied” by the Union troops, but those Union troops were the Germans and it was their home too! Their newspapers would educate and radicalize, with translations of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and accounts of the efforts to legalize slavery in the entire country. The Germans would take it upon themselves to see that Missouri would stay with the Union. It would be a German immigrant of 1832 that would preside over the Constitutional Convention that would end slavery in Missouri on January 11, 1865.
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