Missouri Bicentennial Minutes

Independence National Historical Park, U. S. Department of the Interior.

October 1820 marked the return of the Major Stephen H. Long expedition to Missouri from its explorations in the central plains. The scientists, artists, soldiers, and others of the expedition studied local animals and plants, described geology and countryside, created improved maps, held councils with Indian tribes, ascended Pike’s Peak, and named Long’s Peak in Colorado. Edwin James, geologist and botanist, chronicled the trip.

Wikipedia Commons

After the elections, the first General Assembly convened in the Missouri Hotel at Main and Morgan in St. Louis on September 19, 1820.

Members chose James Caldwell of Ste. Genevieve as speaker of the house, and John McArthur, clerk. Silas Bent was president pro tem of the Senate. Gov. McNair appointed all other state officials, including John D. Cook as one of the Supreme Court justices.

Missouri State Archives

The next step toward statehood was election of Missouri’s first Governor, Lieutenant Governor, members of the General Assembly, the U. S. House representative, county sheriffs, and county coroners on August 28, 1820.

Missouri State Archives

Welcome to the Missouri Bicentennial Minute from the State Historical Society of Missouri. The first Missouri Constitution, drafted mainly by David Barton, was adopted by the convention and not submitted to the voters for approval. Some historians praise the document as “a marvel of moderation and political sagacity,” and it remained in effect until after the Civil War.

(From Louis Houck, History of Missouri Vol. 3, p. 266.)

The enabling act passed by Congress directed Missouri to draft a constitution. The acrimonious debates in Congress in which northern interests proposed to dictate terms of the state constitution alienated even some Missourians who favored restriction of slavery.

The enabling act delineated the number of delegates by county, with 41 total delegates. Delegate election occurred on the first Monday and two succeeding days of May, 1820. While both parties presented candidates to the voters, restrictionists were in the minority. Thus, voters elected strong pro-slavery men.