by law from time to time, and the Judges of the supreme court. Judges of the cir-
cuit courts and chancellor shall hold their respective offices during six years from
and after their respective appointments, and until their successors shall be duly
appointed and qualified, who shall be chosen by joint vote of both houses of the
Sec. 16. â€” Any judge of the supreme or circuit courts and chancellor shall
be removed from office, on the address of two-thirds of each House of the General
Assembly to the Governor for that purpose.
as a new article
That no person holding any office under the United States shall be eligible
or appointed to any office under the authority of this state."
Geyer, of St. Louis, moved to postpone the further consider-
ation of these amendments until the next session, but his motion
Â«'Â» St. Louis Enquirer, Oct. 14, 1820. The date and complete content of
this mes.sage is not known.
â€¢â€¢ (Jack.son) Independent Patriot, Dec. 30. 1820.
A De Facto Stale. 279
failed to carry. McGirk, of Howard, then submitted the fol-
"Resolved, That we deem it inexpedient at this sesssion of the present General
Assembly to propose any amendments to the constitution.
1st â€” Because one-half of the people of this state have not petitioned that
amendments should be proposed without which we cannot know their will,
2nd â€” Because we have not been admitted into the Federal union, until
which time we deem a change inexpedient â€” and
3rd â€” Because we deem it inexpedient to change our constitution until time
and experience will shew [sic] that our constitution is defective and ought to be
This resolution was lost by a vote of eight to twenty-six.
Of the eight votes cast affirmatively, three were from St. Louis;
two, from Franklin; one each, from New Madrid, Cooper and
Howard. Despite the provision in the amending clause of the
constitution requiring an affirmative vote of two-thirds of all
the members elected to each house to propose and to adopt
amendments, Rutter, of Cape Girardeau, submitted a resolu-
tion that a two-thirds vote of the members present was sufficient.
This was lost by a vote of eleven to twenty-three. Of the
eleven votes favoring this obviously illegal resolution, three
were from Cape Girardeau, two each, from Washington and
Ste. Genevieve, one each, from St. Charles, Pike, Cooper and
Madison. After this preliminary skirmish the house took up
the consideration of the several amendments proposed. The
vote on the first amendment submitted was seventeen to seven-
teen and was widely distributed both among counties and
among representatives from a county, excepting, however, the
counties of Ste. Genevieve, which gave the amendment its
entire support, and St. Louis and New Madrid, which opposed
the amendment with all their votes. The vote on the salary
of the governor was twenty-seven to seven. The seven votes
cast against this popular measure were distributed as follows:
three from St. Louis, two from Franklin, and one each, from
New Madrid and Howard. The vote on the amendment
prohibiting the legislature from changing the tenure of the
sheriff and coroner was eighteen to sixteen. Of the sixteen
votes against this measure, twelve of the fifteen counties were
represented â€” St. Charles cast three; St. Louis and Cooper
each, two; others scattering. The vote on the amendment
87 Ibid. All proceedings of the house are from same source.
280 Missouri Struggle for Statehood.
abolishing the office of chancellor was twenty-five to ten: the
ten negative votes were distributed as follows â€” St. Louis,
four; New Madrid and Howard, each two; Franklin and Ste.
Genevieve, each one. The vote on the proposed amendment
to section five of article five was twenty- two to thirteen, and
on the amendment to sections nine, ten and eleven, of article
five, was twenty-five to eleven. The amendment to section
thirteen, of article five, was divided into two parts. The vote
on the salary of the judges was twenty-seven to nine. The
nine negative votes were distributed as follows: four from St.
Louis; two each, from New Madrid and Howard; one from
Franklin. The vote on the six years term for judges and for
the appointive tenure by a joint vote of both houses, was twenty-
seven to nine. The nine negative votes cast on this measure
were distributed as follows: St. Louis four; New Madrid two;
Franklin, Howard and Ste. Genevieve, each one. The back-
bone of all this opposition was: Ball, Geyer, Leduc and Walton
of St. Louis; Hall and Waters of New Madrid; Heath of Frank-
lin; Relfe of Ste. Genevieve; Williams and McGirk of Howard.
The vote on the amendment proposed to section sixteen of
article five was eighteen to sixteen. The negative votes were
distributed as follows: four from St. Louis; three each from
Howard and Cooper; and two from St. Charles; one each from
Jefferson, New Madrid, Franklin, and Ste. Genevieve. The
vote on the new article was twenty-four to eleven. The eleven
negative votes were distributed as follows: four from St. Louis;
two each, from St. Charles and New Madrid; one each from
Franklin, Cooper and Howard. Since the constitutional ma-
jority of two-thirds of the members elected would have neces-
sitated twenty-nine votes, and since no measure received mere
than twenty-seven votes, all of the amendments submitted
While the house was attempting to pass its proposed
amendments, the senate was considering three that had origi-
nated there. These three senate amendments were as follows:
Sect. 13. The governor shall receive an annual compensation for his services,
to be fixed by law, which shall not be diminished during his continuance in oflBce.
A De Facto State. 281
Sect. 1. That the office of Chancellor shall be abolished, and the chancery
powers shall be vested in the supreme and circuit courts, in such manner as the
general assembly shall by law provide.
Sect. 13. That the judges of the supreme and circuit courts, and chancellor,
if not abolished, shall hold their offices during six years from and after their
respective appointments, unless sooner removed; who shall be chosen by a joint
vote of the Senate and House of Representatives of the state; and the compen-
sation of the said judges and chancellor, if his office be not abolished, may be less
than two thousand dollars, annually, to be fixed by law from time to time.Â»Â»
These amendments passed the senate on November 28th, by
large majorities, the largest number of negative votes being
two.^^ These measures, unlike those considered, in the house,
were all important ones and were popular with the people. On
being brought to a vote in the house, they all failed to pass,
and an attempt was even made and received eight votes, to
postpone the further consideration of amendments. ^^ The
opposition of less than a dozen representatives, in some instances
of only eight representatives, had thwarted not only the wishes
of the legislature but those of the people of the State. The
leaders of this small but well knit opposition were McGirk of
Howard county and Geyer of St. Louis county. Their
ability as politicians aided by the provisions in the amending
clause of the constitution enabled them to successfully stand in
the way of what the voters and their representatives desired.
From the standpoint of the worth of the amendments, there
was as much to censure as to favor in them: from the viewpoint
of the people, however, the amendments were desirable.
The action of the house in refusing to decrease the salaries
of the governor and judges was in accord with their previous
act of allowing a fair if not a high compensation, considering
the times, to members and officers of the general assembly.
The latter bill was the first to receive the veto of a governor
of this State and was also the first to become a law over that
veto. This compensation bill originated in the house and having
passed both chambers, was placed in the hands of the governor.
The governor courageously withheld his signature and returned
88 (Jackson) Independent Patriot, Dec. 23, 1820.
Â«Â» Senate Journal, pp. 142f.
â€¢1 (Jackson) Independent Patriot, Dec. 23, 1820.
282 Missouri Struggle for Statehood.
the bill to the place of its inception accompanied by the follow-
ing enlightened and public spirited message:
A communication from the Governor "To the Senate and House of Repre-
"I have had under consideration the bill passed by the two Houses of the
General Assembly entitled, "an act regulating the compensation of the members
of the General Assembly:" and after bestowing on its provisions that deliberation
and reflection due to its importance, I feel bound to withhold my approbation.
"1. In pursuance of that system of economy which the financial condition
of the state requires, I have already deemed it expedient to recommend a reduction
in other branches of public expenditure. The allowance of the contemplated
pay to the members of the General Assembly, would seem to me inconsistent
with, and a clear departure from that system.
"2. If the bill were to operate on the present session only, though I might
still think it objectionable, I might not think it imperatively my duty to interpose
the executive veto; but as the commencement of a system which might be drawn
into dangerous precedents, I cannot suppress my objections, particularly when
I reflect, that all experience shows it is much easier to increase than diminish
an allowance, when once established in the beginning.
"For these reasons I have felt it my duty to withhold my approbation of the
before mentioned bill, which together with my objections, is herewith retiu'ned
to the House of Representatives.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, your ob't. serv.t.
St. Louis, 17th Oct. 1820. A, M'Nair." Â»Â»
The house by the large majority vote of twenty-eight to
seven passed the bill over the governor's veto and on the follow-
ing day, October 19th, the senate, by a vote of nine to three, gave
it the force of a law, â€” it being signed by the presiding officer
of each chamber. ^^ This law regulated the per diem compensa-
tion of members of the general assembly for attendance at four
dollars; of the presiding officers and the chief clerk of each house
at five dollars; of the two assistant clerks at four dollars; and
of the two doorkeepers at three dollars. The clerical force of
the legislature was, as is seen from this law, ridiculously small
in comparison with that employed in later days: and the omis-
sion of a regular staff and company of salaried pages and janitors
is beyond the appreciation of one familiar with the payroll of a
twentieth century state legislature. The members and the
presiding officers of both houses were further allowed mileage
at the rate of three dollars for every twenty-five miles "they
must necessarily travel, going to and from the said assemblies." ^'
Such were the extravagant salaries carried in this law that pro-
*' Senate Journal, pp. 58f; Mo. Gaz., Oct. 25, 1820; Mo. Intell., Nov. 11.
"Senate Journal, pp., 58ff; Mo. Intell., Nov. 18, 1820.
" Mo. Laws, 1820, pp. 34f.
A De Facto State. 283
voked the first State governor of Missouri to say: "I have
felt it my duty to withhold my approbation of the before men-
tioned bill." Considered in the light of modern times, this
law and its brief history cause us to waver between two con-
victions â€” praise of the courage of Governor McNair and praise
of the modesty of the first State general assembly of Missouri.^"*
Nothing reveals so clearly the limited character of govern-
mental activities in the new State and the economy adopted
in conducting these activities, as a survey of the State's finances
in 1820, including budget making, taxes and appropriations.
The first State general assembly of Missouri with businesslike
forethought resolved to estimate the probable income and ex-
penses of the State before levying taxes or passing appropriation
bills. This body being practically unlimited in its financial
powers, decided to equalize the revenues and expenditures by
providing new taxes or raising old ones and by economizing
in appropriation items. The senate finance committee reported
a budget for the year 1820-1821 which was the basis of the
financial legislation of the session. ^^ The probable annual
expenditures were estimated by this committee as follows:
General Assembly â€” pay of members, rent, contingent expenses, sta-
tionery, printing laws and journals, etc., for a sixty day session. . $20,000
Salary of Governor S2 , 000
Salary of three Supreme Court Jiidges 6,000
Salary of Chancellor 2 , 000
Salary of four Circuit Judges 8,000 18,000
Salary of Sec. of State, Attorney General, Auditor and Treas-
urer 3 . 000
Contingent Expenses 4 , 000
Total $45 . 000
The probable annual revenue was estimated as follows:
"The amount of revenue produced by the territorial mode of taxation
for the year ending on the first Monday of December, 1819, was. . $24,424
"The confirmed lands within the limits of the state, are 1,087,143
acres, which being taxed as is proposed in the report, at one dollar
per hundred acres, would produce, in addition to revenue by the
territorial mode of taxation, the sum of 4,348
'* The constitution gave the general assembly unlimited power to set their
own compensation. Mo. Const., 1820, III. 24.
" Senate Journal, pp. 743. Emmons was chairman. Report was made
on Oct. 27.
284 Missouri Struggle for Statehood.
"The lands sold by the United States on the 30th day of September,
1820, amounted to 1,250,934 acres, which being taxed as is pro-
posed in the report, would produce the sum of $12,509
The report added that this would leave "a deficit of $3,719.00,
to be provided for by the revenue arising from the increased
tax on slaves; the tax on the military bounty lands; sales at
auction; the tax on law process, and on bank stock; which will
be amply sufficient, in the opinion of the committee, to make
up the deficit, and meet all the drawbacks which will be oc-
casioned by these lands forfeited to the United States, by reason
of the purchaser not making payment."
The general assembly followed in general the recommenda-
tions of this report in regard to raising revenue and making
appropriations. A general land, lot, and improved real estate
tax was imposed at the rate of twenty-five cents on the hun-
dred dollar valuation; slaves and live stock over three years
old were taxed at the same rate; pleasure carriages, at one
per cent, of their value; furniture, at fifty cents on the hundred
dollars; watches, at two dollars on the hundred dollars (both
furniture and watches on sale were exempted from these taxes) ;
and a poll tax of one dollar was imposed on free, white males
over twenty-one years old. Special and license taxes were
imposed on a number of objects and occupations, the most
important being: a twenty dollar wine and liquor license for
every six months; a merchants and peddlers tax of fifteen dollars
to two hundred dollars every six months for the sale of foreign
made goods; an auction tax of three dollars per one hundred
dollars on personal property and one dollar and a half per one
hundred dollars on real estate; an auctioneer's license of ore
hundred dollars for every six months; a ferry license tax; and a
billiard table license of fifty dollars for every six months. ^^ The
appropriation bill passed at this session carried a total of
$49,359,133^. The most important items in this bill were:^^
Salary of the governor and eight judges $18,000.00
Salary of the secretary of state, auditor, treasurer, attorney general,
adjutant general, and circuit attorneys 3,590.00
Contingent expenses of the office of secretary of state 500 . 00
Â»â€¢ Mo. Laws, 1820, pp. 90f; 92f ; 76fl; 83flf; 61f.
â€¢' Mo. Laws, 1820, pp. 82f.
A De Facto State. 285
Pay of the members of the general assembly, oftlcers, and presiden-
tial electors $25 , 000 00
Printing laws and journals of the session 1 , 200 . 00
Contingent expenses of the session, including furniture, sundry
printing, stationery, fuel and janitor service, election returns
of the governor and lieutenant governor, rent, state seal, etc. . 1,069. 13 H
Total $49 . 359 .131^
Some of the separate items in this bill together with the incred-
ible accuracy of the appropriation made for them, are remark-
able. Only $267.11 were spent by this general assembly for
its contingent printing and the representatives and senators
used only $166.50 for stationery. The total printing bill of
the state, excluding the constitutional convention, amounted
to only $1,467.11; today the annual State printing is close to
$150,000. This general assembly spent the ridiculous sum of
$50 for janitor service and for fuel of the senate, and $130 for
these items of the house. Such economy is wonderful. Five
dollars was appropriated to G. Bassinet for making a model of
the State seal, and $25,123^ was appropriated for the sundry
expenses of the senate. Such economy if not parsimony is
today unheard of and its early return is unlikely.^*
Those salaries of all state officers that were not set by the
constitution were provided for by legislative enactment. The
salary of the attorney general was placed at five hundred dollars
a year and of the secretary of state, auditor, and treasurer,
each at seven hundred and fifty dollars a year.^^ The ap-
pointment of persons to these offices and to the judiciary, was
an important political function of the governor and the legis-
lature. Many applicants advanced their claims and as one
observer wrote ''it was a good thing to have a friend at court." ^Â°^
Governor McNair was naturally criticised for many of his acts
and especially for his appointments. The latter criticism was,
however, based more on disappointed ambitions than on facts.
One of the foremost and ablest public men of the State was
Â»8 No money was appropriated in 1820 even for the pay of Gov. McNair's
private secretary, William G. Pettus, who was probably compensated by the
governor from his private purse.
Â»Â» Mo. Laws, 1820, pp. 38f, 66, 87fif.
'oo Mo. Intell., Jan. 1, 1821,
286 Missouri Struggle for Statehood.
appointed secretary of state. Joshua Barton was an eminent
lawyer and an honest public official. His election to the sec-
retaryship of state was but a recognition of his talents. Edward
Bates was appointed attorney general; William Christy, auditor;
and Pierre Didier, treasurer. The conspicuous part played by
Bates in the convention first brought him prominently before
the people. His connection with the caucus was not close.
His friends were supporters of both Clark and McNair. His
integrity was never questioned and, although a young man,
he was well versed in the law. Notwithstanding the recom-
mendation of Bates made by McNair, the senate refused at
first to confirm him. McNair sent a second communication
on Bates to that body, which then endorsed his nomination. ^^^
William Christy was a native of Pennsylvania, was reared in
that State and in Kentucky, and came to St. Louis in 1804.
He had served as auditor for the Territory and was a prominent
politician. ^^^ Pierre Didier was a native of St. Louis and his
appointment to the office of State treasurer by the general
assembly was probably due to the influence exerted for him
by his French friends in St. Louis and the adjoining counties.^^^
The appointment of the judges, including three of the supreme
court, a chancellor, and four judges for the circuit courts, was
a long drawn out struggle between the governor and the senate.
The senate sat behind closed doors and at least two of the
governor's candidates were rejected. It is probable that those
finally appointed either owed their office as much to the senate
as to the governor or were compromise appointees.^""* The
supreme court judges finally appointed were Mathias McGirk,
senator from St. Louis county, John D. Cook, of Cape Girar-
deau county, and John Rice Jones, of Washington county.
Cook and Jones had been delegates to the constitutional con-
vention and had been active leaders in that body. The former
was barely qualified to serve as judge on account of his youth.
"Â» Senate Journal, 1820, p. 36.
'Â»'Houck, Hist. Mo.. III. 48,
)oj The office of State treasurer was filled according to the constitution by
the general assembly, the governor having no voice in selecting the occupant.
^0* St. Louis Enquirer, Nov. 18, 1820, editorial.
A De Facto State. 287
the latter on account of his age.^Â°^ McGirk resigned his seat
in the senate on November 27th, in order to accept the appoint-
ment to the supreme court bench. ^*^^ He had served in the
Territorial Council and this was the only public office he
had filled. Like John D. Cook, McGirk was a young man
being barely thirty years of age. He was a popular man but
was not especially learned in the law. He served, however,
as supreme court judge for twenty-one years and it is said that
his opinions in the first six volumes of the Missouri Reports
will compare favorably with those of any other judge of his
time.^^^ William Harper was appointed chancellor. Little is
known regarding his life but it is presumed that he later went
to South Carolina several years after his office had been abol-
ished in Missouri. ^^^ The four circuit court judges were David
Todd, Rufus Pettibone, Nathaniel Beverly Tucker and Richard
S. Thomas. All were good lawyers, the first three being grad-
uates of colleges. Thomas had been a delegate to the con-
stitutional convention and only the anti-slavery attitude had
prevented Pettibone from election to that body.^^^ The per-
sonnel of both the executive and judicial departments of the
State government was high. Much of the stability that is
apparent in the early history of the State was doubtless due to
the character and ability of such public offtcers as Bates, Barton,
Cook, Jones, McGirk, and other eminent lawyers of that day.
One of the important political acts of the general assembly
at this session was the election of the first presidential electors
from Missouri. This took place at 3 P. M., on November 2.
The election was made by a joint vote of both houses. "Those
members of the Legislature whose names were before the public
as candidates for electors, declined standing a poll, the better
opinion prevailing that a member of the Legislature could not
consistently with the Constitution of this state hold the office
106 The constitution had a minimum age qualification for judges of thirty
years, and a maximum one of sixty-five years.
^0* Senate Journal, 1820, p. 141.
^0^ Bay, pp. 536, He came to Missouri about 1814 or 1816. After his ap-
pointment to the bench he moved to Montgomery county and married into the
iÂ«Â«Houck, His. Mo., III. 267.
'^^Bay, pp. 389fl., 98f., 251; Houck, Hist. Mo., Ill, 9ff.
288 Missouri Struggle for Statehood.
of elector, and that the acceptance of the latter office would
vacate the former." ^^^ The three electors chosen were Major
William Christy, of St. Louis county, John S. Brickey, of Cooper,
and William Shannon, of Ste. Genevieve. All three pledged
themselves to vote for James Monroe as president and Daniel
D. Tomklns for vice president of the United States."^
The legislative activity of the first general assembly at this
session was considerable despite the controversies waged over
the important elections and appointments made by the general
assembly and by the governor and senate and despite the long
drawn out struggles over the location of the temporary seat of
government and the proposing of constitutional amendments.
Fifty-one laws were enacted, the majority being necessary for
perfecting the organization of the State government. The
duties of the various state and local administrative officials
were determined; the judiciary was defined and regulated as
regards jurisdiction and the time and place of holding court;
provision was made for taking the census; and the militia was
given an organization. Some private bills for Incorporating
academies and for the relief of Individuals were also passed.
Excepting the state organization laws and the revenue measures,
the most important laws passed related to the establishing of
new counties, the selecting of six of the twelve Salt Springs
donated by the National Government, the appointing of a
commission to report on a site for the permanent seat of gov-