account of being slavery restrictionists, but, we are certain,
these formed a very small percentage of their class.^^ This
together with other evidence would indicate that the people
of Missouri in 1820 preferred to have their constitution framed
by other classes of men.
They did not realize that the legal
class by virtue of its ability alone wields an influence in the
field of legislation out of all proportion to its numbers, and that
in the convention or forum it has always enjoyed a preeminent
position. This influence and position of lawyers in law making
bodies have in this country been strengthened by their ability
to cooperate with other classes. And in this respect the lawyer's
most natural ally has been and still is the business man.
An eminent authority has said that at least nine-tenths
of all legislation owe their origin, directly or indirectly, to the
associated influence of the merchant, trader, and banker on
the one hand, and the lawyer on the other. -^ We are not pre-
pared to examine the correctness of this statement, but, we
believe, it is well substantiated in the framing of Missouri's
" Easton had died at this time; and Hunt and Gamble had not then achieved
" Foote, Bench and Bar of the Southwest, p. 3.
158 Missouri Struggle for Statehood.
first constitution. Although only eleven business men-^ and
nine lawyers were elected delegates to the convention, their
influence in that body was without a serious check. In the
committees of the convention they were practically supreme.
The president of the convention was a lawyer; the legislative
committee was composed of a lawyer, a business man, and a
politician; the executive committee was composed of a lawyer,
a surveyor, and a farmer — the latter being the brother of a
lawyer; the judiciary committee was composed of three lawyers;
the select committee, which reported on the work of the three
named committees, was composed of three lawyers, and a
farmer; the committee on a bill of rights, etc., was composed
of a farmer, a business man, and a lawyer; the committee on
the schedule and banking was composed of a lawyer, a business
man, and a teacher; the revision committee, or committee on
style, and the enrollment committee were each composed of
two lawyers, and a teacher. In seven of these eight committees
the business man and the lawyer constituted a majority of the
membership; and in the eighth these two classes had the co-
operation of a surveyor whose interests were identical with
theirs.-^ Of the twenty-five committee places on these eight
committees, one was held by a surveyor; three, by teachers;
three, by landed men; one, by a politician; three, by business
men; and fourteen, by lawyers.
This remarkable strength of the lawyer class is the more
significant when we realize that there were thirteen delegates
in the convention who were mainly interested in agriculture
and landholding.23 We would not be understood as stating
that on all questions that arose there was a line of division in
the convention between the lawyers and business men on the
«' The following delegates were engaged principally In lousiness, ranging
from a tavern keeper and store-keeper to a banker and fur inorolumt: Baber,
Burckhartt, C^houtcuiu. Dodge (mine operator), Emmons. Hammond, (spec-
ulator, more allied to the business than to the agricultural class), Heath. Houts,
McNair, Pratte, Kiddick.
'•The members of the executive committee were Rector, a surveyor; N.
Cook, a land holder and a brother of J. Cook, the lawyer; and Evans, a lawyer.
«• Th(i following (U'lcgatcs belonged to this class: Hettis, Hoone — a sur-
veyor but, wo believe, mor<i intcrc'stcd in land at this tinuv — , Brown. Byrd. Cleaver,
N. Cook. Henry. Hutchings, Lillard, I'erry, Uamsay. Kay, Wallace.
Fathers of the State. 159
one hand, and the agriculturists on the other. Such is not
true; but it is correct to say that the influence of the former
was much greater than that of the latter, and further that
Missouri's first constitution was largely the work of the former,
even though the lawyers and business men did not comprise
one-half of the delegates.
Besides the occupations named that were represented in
the convention, there were three others which were each fol-
lowed by two delegates. The medical profession was followed
by Dawson and Talbott; the civil engineering, by Rector and
Sullivan; and the teaching, by Findlay and McFerron. Of
these six men McFerron and Findlay were the most active in
the convention, and achieved the least financial success in life.
Another feature of this body that attracts attention is
its cosmopolitan appearance. There were represented in the
convention seven lines of descent. The English race claimed
a majority of the delegates; the Welsh, two; the Scotch, at
least two; the Irish, at least four; the Scotch-Irish, which, we
understand, is generally distinguished by genealogists from
the Scotch, at least four; the French, two; and the German,
one.^° Even more diversified was the nativity of the members
of the convention. The slave-holding commonwealths, as one
would expect, were the birthplaces of a majority of the dele-
gates. Contrary to popular opinion, Kentucky did not lead
in this respect; to Virginia was this honor given. The former
furnished eight of Missouri's State Founders; the latter, thirteen.
Standing next to Virginia and Kentucky was Maryland with
four delegates, and, what is equally at variance with accepted
notions on this point, Pennsylvania followed with three dele-
gates. The place of birth of the remaining members of the
convention is as follows: Tennessee, then part of North Car-
olina, two; North Carolina, two; upper Louisiana, while under
Spanish rule, two; Indiana Territory, before the organization
of the old Northwest Territory, one; New York, Vermont,
"> Green and Jones, Welsh; Barton and Henry, Scotch; Hutchings, McFerron.
Ramsay, and Thomas, Irish; Cleaver, Findlay, McNair, and Talbott, Scotch-
Irish; Chouteau and Pratte, French; Burckhartt, German; and the other dele-
gates, excepting several that we were unable to trace, English.
160 Missouri Struggle for Statehood.
South Carolina, Wales, and Ireland, each one.^^ It Is quite
a commentary on the wane of the French influence that only
two delegates were of French blood. Less than sixteen years
before when the first convention was held in upper Louisiana,
protesting against the act of Congress of 1804, the French
representatives were in the majority; and, if we look back four
years further to the close of the eighteenth century, we see
that race the most influential west of the Mississippi River.
We recall few instances in history where an enlightened, peace-
ful, and fairly prosperous race, has ever been so ignored in gov-
ernmental affairs in such a short time by any other means than
Closely related to nativity is the place of one's rearing.
If in considering the latter we include the places of residence
in which the delegates had lived before coming to what is now
Missouri, there is no state that holds as prominent a position
in this respect as was met with under our discussion of places
of birth. While Virginia was the mother of thirteen delegates,
she had the exclusive control of but three of these before their
settlement in Missouri. Kentucky was the single home and
residence of only six delegates. Five members of the con-
vention had been reared and had lived in Virginia and Ken-
tucky; two in Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee; one in Vir-
ginia and Georgia; one in Virginia and Tennessee; one in Vir-
ginia and Illinois Territory; one in Virginia and Indiana Terri-
tory; one in Kentucky and Indiana Territory; one in Kentucky
and Maryland; one in Kentucky, Maryland and Ohio; one in
Kentucky and upper Louisiana; three in Tennessee; two in
" Those born in Virginia wore Baber, Bates, CMark, .). (^ook. N. C^ook. Evans,
Hammond, UutcliinKs, IJIIard, Ramsay, Rector, Ridilick, and Scott; in Ken-
tucky, Boone. Hii(!kner, CMeaver, Green, Ray. Reeves, Sullivan, and Wallace;
in Maryland, Burckhartt, Dawson, Talbott, Thomas; in Pennsylvania. Kindlay.
McNalr, and Perry; in Tennessee, Barton and Byrd; in North Carolina. Bet t is
and Brown; in upper Louisiana, Chouteau and Pratte; in Indiana Territory.
Dodge; in New York, Heath; in Vermont, Emmons; in South Carolina,
Henry; in Ireland, McKerron; and in Wales, ,lones. Tlie birtiiplace of Houts
is not known. The Jackson Herald, .June 24. 1S2(). gives the birthplaces of the
delegates as follows: Virginia. Ki; Kentucky. S; l»ennsylvania. 1; Maryland, 4;
North Carolina, .i. Missouri. 2; Vermont. 1; Delaware. 1; Tennes.see. I; Ireland,
1; and Wahvs, 1. The total nurnl«>r of delegates according to tliat paper is forty-
two, which is not accurate. It pos.sil)ly included the secretary of tl)e convi-ntion,
but this would not correct its figures on this point.
Fathers of the State. 161
Maryland; one in North Carolina; one in North CaroHna and
South Carolina; three in Pennsylvania; one in Vermont and New
York; one in New York; one in Ireland; one in Wales, England,
Indiana and Illinois Territories; one in upper Louisiana; and one
in upper Louisian and Canada.'^- On the basis of former resi-
dence and former friendships thirty-six of the delegates naturally
fall into five groups. The largest number came from Mary-
land, Virginia and Kentucky. These three states, closely
related in history by the ties of blood, interest, and position,
had been the birthplace and home of seventeen delegates. The
next group in the order of importance was that from Tennessee
and the Carolinas. Its membership included eight delegates,
most of whom came from eastern Tennessee. The old North-
west Territory group was composed of five delegates, who came
from Ohio, Indiana Territory, and Illinois Territory. The
Pennsylvania group and the upper Louisiana group were each
composed of three delegates. Thus, instead of there having
been a large number of sources of the delegates, we find that all
the members of the convention except six can be traced to five
" The three delegates from Virginia and the year of their immigration to
Missouri were Bates (1814), Evans (1807). Riddick (1803): from Virginia and
Kentucky, Boone (1800), Clark (1817), J. Cook (1815), N. Cook. (1799), Hutch-
ings (1800); from Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee, Baber (1815), Ramsay
(1817) ; from Virginia and Georgia, Hammond (1804) ; from Virginia and Tennessee,
Lillard (1817); from Virginia and Illinois Territory, Rector (1810); from Virginia
and Indiana Territory, Scott (1804); from Kentucky, Cleaver (1816), Green
(1817), Ray (1818), Reeves (1819), Sullivan (at least as early as 1815). Wallace
(at least as early as 1818); from Kentucky and Indiana Territory, Buckner (1818);
from Kentucky and Maryland, Burckhartt (about 1815 or before); from Ken-
tucky, Maryland, and Ohio, Thomas (1810); from Kentucky and upper Louisiana,
Dodge (1796); from Tennessee, Barton (1809), Brown (1804). Byrd (1799); from
Maryland, Dawson (1800), Talbott (at least by 1815); from North Carolina.
Bettis (1806); from North Carolina and South Carolina, Henry (1817); from
Pennsylvania, Findlay (1818), McNair (1804), Perry (1806); from Vermont and
New York, Emmons (1807); from New York, Heath (1808); from Ireland, McFer-
ron (1802); from Wales, England, Indian Territory and Illinois Territory, Jones
(1810); from upper Louisiana and Canada, Pratte (born in Ste. Genevieve).
Chouteau was born in St. Louis. The birthplace and former residence of Houts
are unknown, also the date of his arrival in Missouri. The dates given as the
years of the arrivals in upper Louisiana of the delegates are in some cases our
approximations of the e.xact time. We were in several instances unable to ob-
tain exact information. Each date, we beUeve, is, however, accurate in stating
the year in which a delegate was living in upper Louisiana or Missouri Territory.
The error, if any, is in the direction of an understatement rather than an over-
statement of the length of time a delegate had been an inhabitant of this Terri-
M S— 11
162 Missouri Struggle for Statehood.
common sources. We think this is important in an understand-
ing of the personnel of the convention. The delegates were
isolated from each other neither before nor after their immi-
gration west of the Mississippi river. Nor were they strangers
to each other at either time. They had met in the market,
had been companions in the skirmish, had sat side by side in
legislative bodies, had known each other as friends or as foes
before the bar. Some were related by the bonds of marriage
and friendship, others by the ties of business and policy. Al-
though their average residence in upper Louisiana was but ten
years, excluding Chouteau and Pratte, who were born in that
district, and Houts of whom we could learn very little, their
acquaintanceships stretch back into the eighteenth century.
And when they met to frame Missouri's first constitution each
knew the character as well as the reputation of many of his
Some of the delegates were members of the same religious
denomination, but our information is too incomplete in this
respect to insure accurate generalizations. We do know, how-
ever, that the following sects and religions had followers in the
convention: Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian,
and Roman Catholic. Formal religion did not play as im-
portant a part in the lives of the men and women of that day
as it did later. We do not believe that even half of the dele-
gates were members of any church at this time. This was
partly due, in the case of some of the delegates, to a lack of in-
terest in this subject, but was more probably the result of the few,
scattered churches and ministers in Missouri Territory. In many
cases we are told the religion that was professed by a delegate's
parents, who had lived in the settled states east of the Mis-
sissippi River, but nothing in regard to the rcHgion of the dele-
gate himself. In other instances we have record of the delegate
joining some religious denomination years after Missouri had
entered the Union. There was also a number of delegates who
were Masons. Alexander Buckner had been the first Grand
Master of the Grand Lodge of Indiana Territory, and had
organized the first Masonic Lodge in Missouri Territory,
"Unity Lodge" at Jackson; Benjamin Emmons, had brought
Fathers of the State. 1G3
the first charter for the Masonic Lodge at St. Charles; and
Thomas F. Riddick, who together with Alexander McNair,
Thomas H. Benton, Edward and Frederick Bates, William G.
Pettus and others established the first two Masonic Lodges in
St. Louis, was the first Grand Master of Missouri.
Before closing our treatment of the private lives of the
delegates we will make a few statements on what is usually
regarded as two of the most important subjects in the study
of biography, — education and economic position. The educa-
tional equipment of the members of the first constitutional
convention of Missouri was an honor and an asset to that body.
Some of the delegates had received little schooling but most
of these had corrected this by a close application to books.
Only seven delegates, however, were in this unfortunate class
of self-educated men. Information along this line in the case
of seven other delegates has not been brought to light. All
the remaining twenty-six delegates had received good educa-
tions and many of these, e. g., Jones, Scott, McNair, Pratte,
McFerron, Barton, Bates, Buckner and others, had received
exceptionally fine advantages either in college or under re-
markably eminent men.^^ The most highly educated man in
the convention, one whom we can correctly style learned, was
John Rice Jones. This high educational standard of the con-
vention was naturally reflected in the work of that body. The
constitution that it framed has throughout not only a clear,
correct style but also, which is more important, it reveals itself
as the work of men who were liberal enough to compromise. A
constitution of this character is usually insured a longer life
than one framed by a body of illiberal even though powerful
Another element of strength in the convention was the
economic stability of most of its members. All except four
of the delegates either enjoyed large incomes from their profession
and business, or were possessed of considerable property, prin-
cipally in land. Even these four, whom we have excepted,
" Baber, Chouteau, Clark, Dodge, Hutchings, Ramsay, and Wallace had
received little schooling or were self-educated. We could not obtain information
in this line relating to Brown, Burckhartt, Byrd, Cleaver, N. Cook. Lillard, Sul-
livan, and Perry.
164 Missouri Struggle for Statehood.
were not penniless, but were in only fair circumstances com-
pared to the other delegates. It is interesting to note that
two of these four delegates were the only school teachers in the
convention, which perhaps explains their economic situation;
one was a politician, an even less lucrative office then than now;
and one was a small business man who soon developed into a
politician and found more wealth in holding public office than
in selling groceries.^^ Fourteen of the delegates were among
the wealthiest men in the territory, and two of these, Jones and
Pratte, probably had few if any equals in this respect. ^^ The
lawyers and surveyors in the Convention had large incomes
as their services were of a high grade and were well remunerated.
The business class in the convention was also fortunate in this
respect, which was due to the large profits that the successful
trader and merchant made on his furs and wares, and to the
immense gains that accrued to a progressive mine operator.
The agricultural class did not, perhaps, enjoy so large a net
income as either of the three classes named, but in property it
usually surpassed them. Considering the low average age of
the delegates, it is surprising that so many were men of means,
and most of them were also self-made men. The average age
of these delegates was forty-one years. Only four were sixty
years old or over — Hammond, who was sixty-three years;
Henry, eighty-four years; Jones, sixty-one years; and Lillard,
sixty years. The remaining thirty-seven delegates ranged in
age between thirty-one and fifty-nine years except five or six
who were thirty years or younger, — Baber, Bates, Clark, J.
Cook, Houts (?), and Green. Today it would be almost im-
possible to elect in any state forty-one of the leading men of
that commonwealth whose average age is as low and whose
economic position is as high as were the men who framed Mis-
" McFerron and Findlay were teachers; Clark, a politician; and Baber a
country mercliant. Ual)or later held several public oJlloes and for nearly Miirty
years was connected witli tiie state auditor's department. He became wealthy;
and the story is told that at times he would light his cigar with paper currency
to show in what slight regard he held money.
" The fourteen delegates who were wealthy were Boone, Brown, Byrd,
Chouteau, N. Cook, Dodge, Hammond. Henry, Lillard, Perry, Ramsay, and
Riddick. Dodge had, liowever, lost much of his wealtli, but later recovered it
in Wisconsin Territory.
Fathers of the State. 165
souri's first constitution. The reason for such a difference
existing is not slow in presenting itself. In the first place,
never in the history of this nation, not even excepting the case
of California, has such a wealth of natural resources and fertile
soil been thrown open to settlement and exploitation as upper
Louisiana offered the American settler from 1790 to 1820.
Therefore the fearless, shrewd, and energetic young men amassed
fortunes in a decade or two. In the second place, the absence
of specialization permitted men to enter active life earlier. And
even where special training and study were required as in the
case of law and engineering, a year or two of application was
sufficient to enable one to be admitted to active work at the
bar or in the field. The unlimited opportunities that this rich
territory offered and the comparative absence of the specialist
were, we believe, the main reasons for the delegates averaging
low in age and high in wealth. We would not be understood
as stating that a wealthy class framed Missouri's first consti-
tution, for this is not true. The delegates were all men of more
or less property and some were very wealthy, but they were
essentially representatives of the people both by virtue of elec-
tion and even more truly by reason of birth, upbringing and
CHAPTER VI .
LABORS OF THE CONVENTION.
On June 12th, 1820, in accordance with the fourth section
of the Missouri Enabling Act of March 6, 1820, there assembled
in St. Louis the delegates that had been elected to Missouri's
first constitutional convention.^ From that date to July 19th,
a period of thirty-eight days, these constitution framers met
in daily session, except on the five Sundays intervening and on
the Fourth of July. The convention thus accomplished its
purpose and completed its labors in thirty-two days, or in less
than one-half the time necessary for a regular session of a state
legislature.^ The assembling place of the convention was in
the dining room of Bennett's "Mansion House Hotel," ^ and the
thirty-eight delegates that were present on the first day, having
produced their credentials, were sworn, and took their seats.**
• Journal, p. 3. Throughout this and the succeeding chapter foot-note
references to the Journal of the convention will be indicated by "J."
» On thirteen days the convention assembled at 9 A. M., on one day at 10
A. M., and on the last day at 12 A. M. On three days the Journal does not give
the hour of meeting. The convention also assembled in the afternoon. See
Mo. IntelL, July 1, 1820.
» This building was erected in 1816 by Gen. Wm. V. Rector, United States
Surveyor-General for Illinois and Missouri, for his office and residence, and was
situated on the north-east corner of Third and Vine streets. In 1819 it was en-
larged to serve as a hotel for Wm. Bennett, who opened house during the summer
of that year. From a fine cut of the old Mansion House in Billon, op. cit., p.
397, it appears to have been a large, three-story brick structure. For many
years it was used as a hotel and during that time was the scone of many inter-
esting and noteworthy incidents. Theatrical companies performed in the large
dining room, and during the early State period it was the principal ball-room of
St. Louis. Later it was called the "Denver House" and was sometimes spcken
of as the "City Hotel." Between 1880 and 1888 it was removed to make way
for a largo business house. Its site would now be at tlie north-east corner of
Third and E streets. (Mo. IntelL. June 24, 1820: Billon, op. cit.. pp. UXi. 397f;
Darby, Recollections, p. 28; Houck, op. cit.. III. 249, 250.
♦J., p. 3. Dodge appeared on June 13; Findlay on June 15; and Scott, on
Juno 10. (Ibid., pp. .5, 9, 10.) The following were also admitted to a seat within
the hall of the convention: the governor, secretary, and judges of the sui)erior
and circuit courts of Missouri Territory (Ibid., p. 12); Mr. Monrot>. brotlier of
and former private secretary to the President of the lTnite<l States; Mr. Strother,
a former member of Congress (idem.); and Nathaniel B. Tucker, a former judge
of the circuit court (ibid., p. 23.). The proceedings of the convention appear
"MANSION HOUSE" HOTKI.
Where the First Constitutional Convention of Missouri met. Courtesy of
Hon. Cornelius Roach.
THK -XHSSOl Rl HOTKI."
Where the First State Legislature of Missouri met. Courtesy of Hon. Cornelius Roach.
Labors of the Convention. 167
The Journal of the convention does not record any tem-
porary organization, but other accounts of the proceedings of
that body reveal the election of Samuel Hammond and Thomas
F. Riddick, both delegates, as president and secretary pro
tempore.^ Final organization was then effected by the election
of a permanent president, a secretary and a door-keeper. David
Barton was chosen to the former ofhce by a large majority vote;
William G. Pettus was elected secretary; and George W. Fer-
Immediately following the permanent organization of the
convention, Judge Thomas submitted a resolution, that was
adopted, which required each delegate to take an oath before
some magistrate of the Territory to support the Constitution