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Southeast Missouri had a key role in the road to Missouri statehood in 1817-1821. The events leading to statehood, and some of the events, people, and lifeways in the area may be unfamiliar to many modern-day Missourians. Currently, Missouri is celebrating its Bicentennial, and this program aims to summarize the events leading to statehood, some of the factors affecting Missouri’s entry into the Union, and how people lived and worked during that time 200 years ago.Every Friday morning at 6:42 and 8:42 a.m. and Saturday morning at 8:18 a.m., Bill Eddleman highlights the people, places, ways of life, and local events in Southeast Missouri in 1821.The theme music for the show ("The Missouri Waltz") is provided by Old-Time Missouri Fiddler Charlie Walden, host of the podcast "Possum’s Big Fiddle Show."

Missouri Bicentennial Minutes: The “Solemn Public Act” and Loan Office Act Pass

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Independent Patriot, issue of July 28, 1821, Page 1, Column 2.
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Copy of part of Section 1 of the Loan Office Act, designating counties in each district.

The special session of the General Assembly, on June 26, 1821, passed an act prohibiting enactment of any law excluding any citizen from enjoyment of the privileges and immunities to which such they were entitled under the U.S. Constitution. Missouri abided by this until 1835, when a law passed that required free persons of color apply for a freedom license.

The special session also attempted to deal with economic challenges of the panic of 1819. Four relief acts passed: providing for some land holders to redeem land sold for debt, abolishing imprisonment for insolvent debtors, and exempting certain family possessions from executions for debt. The fourth was the most controversial, likened by one historian to “making something from nothing.” The General Assembly sought to alleviate the lack of currency by creating loan offices.

Five loan office districts, at Chariton, Boonville, Franklin, St. Louis, and Jackson, each managed by three commissioners, issued certificates to a face value of $200,000. These were good for payment of taxes and debts to the State, and served as tender for payment of salaries and fees by the state. Individuals could receive secured loans of $1000 on land and $200 on personal property.

The scheme failed. Security on loans proved inadequate, and subsequent litigation increased opposition. By November 1822, the General Assembly forbade issuance of more certificates. Legal challenges to the certificates ended with a U. S. Supreme Court ruling in 1830 finding that the loan office was unconstitutional, affirming the prohibition of states to issue bills of credit. The end result was Missouri holding a debt on loan office certificates it would not repay until 1834.

Bill Eddleman was born in Cape Girardeau, and is an 8th-generation Cape Countian. His first Missouri ancestor came to the state in 1802. He attended SEMO for two years before transferring to the University of Missouri to study Fisheries and Wildlife Biology. He stayed at Mizzou to earn a master of science in Fisheries and Wildlife, and continued studies in Wildlife Ecology at Oklahoma State University.
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