Tag Archives: 1821

Statehood

Missouri became a State on August 10, 1821. Its birth was not easy though. The land was purchased by the United States in 1804, and organized into  a Territory in 1812, with the first Legislative session held in Pierre Choteau Senior’s home. For the second session they were at the home of Madame Dubrevill on Second Street, also in St. Louis.

Residents wanted to discuss Statehood, so they gathered at E. Maury’s Hotel on October 26, 1818. There they began to draft a Constitution, which was completed when the Convention met at the Mansion House on June 12, 1820. This was a large 3 story brick on the corner of Third and Vine Streets, that had been built in 1816. At this session, the Convention also drafted a resolution that the seat of government would remain at St. Louis until 1826, when it would be moved to a point on the Missouri River within 40 miles of the Osage River. The rivers were the highways of their day.

The first session of the Missouri General Assembly was convened in St. Louis, and the election returns counted, with Alexander McNair becoming the first Governor. This was followed by high drama at the Missouri Hotel, at Main and Morgan Streets. U.S. Senators were elected by a caucus of a joint General Assembly, and the first seat went to David Barton by a unanimous decision. However, a bitter fight broke out between Judge John B. Lucas and Thomas Hart Benton. For days the 14 State Senators and the 43 members of the House debated and remained in a deadlock. It grew acrimonious and bitter. Then someone remembered that Representative Daniel Ralls had not come down from his room because he was ill. Needing the stalemate to end, a group of Benton supporters, carried his bed down to the Dining Room, where he feebly announced his vote for Benton. He died within a few days.

Before it adjourned, and after  yet another long fight, they named Saint Charles the Mointeroirestemporary Seat of Justice.  McNair convened a special session on June 4, 1821 to discuss the objections raised by the U.S. Congress, on the second floor of a brick building on Main Street. That summer the heated debate over slavery floated down to listeners in front of the Peck Brothers Mercantile. A great compromise suggested by Henry Clay, ended the debate. Missouri was a slave state with the institution part of its history from its very beginning. With 11 free states, and 11 states in the Union, it would take the free state of Maine to balance Missouri’s entry as the 24th State.

Whereas the Congress of the United States, by a joint resolution of the 2d day of March last, entitled “Resolution providing for the admission of the State of Missouri into the Union on a certain condition,” did determine and declare “that Missouri should be admitted into this Union on an equal footing with the original States in all respects whatever upon the fundamental condition that the fourth clause of the twenty-sixth section of the third article of the constitution submitted on the part of said State to Congress shall never be construed to authorize the passage of any law, and that no law shall be passed in conformity thereto, by which any citizen of either of the States of this Union shall be excluded from the enjoyment of any of the privileges and immunities to which such citizen is entitled under the Constitution of the United States: Provided, That the legislature of said State, by a solemn public act, shall declare the assent of the said State to the said fundamental condition, and shall transmit to the President of the United States on or before the first Monday in November next an authentic copy of said act, upon the receipt whereof the President, by proclamation, shall announce the fact, whereupon, and without any further proceeding on the part of Congress, the admission of the said State into this Union shall be considered as complete;” and

Whereas by a solemn public act of the assembly of said State of Missouri, passed on the 26th of June, in the present year, entitled “A solemn public act declaring the assent of this State to the fundamental condition contained in a resolution passed by the Congress of the United States providing for the admission of the State of Missouri into the Union on a certain condition,” an authentic copy whereof has been communicated to me, it is solemnly and publicly enacted and declared that that State has assented, and does assent, that the fourth clause of the twenty-sixth section of the third article of the constitution of said State “shall never be construed to authorize the passage of any law, and that no law shall be passed in conformity thereto, by which any citizen of either of the United States shall be excluded from the enjoyment of any of the privileges and immunities to which such citizens are entitled under the Constitution of the United States:”

Now, therefore, I, James Monroe, President of the United States, in pursuance of the resolution of Congress aforesaid, have issued this my proclamation, announcing the fact that the said State of Missouri has assented to the fundamental condition required by the resolution of Congress aforesaid, whereupon the admission of the said State of Missouri into this Union is declared to be complete.

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Original Plat of Saint Charles

The Story of an Old Map

Everyone loves old maps. They do a lot more than give directions. Historic maps can share what a place looked like at a certain point in time and transport us back to another era. There are some maps can do more – they can share a story as well. This is the story of a map that takes people back in time, to the City of St. Charles historic past, all the way back to its’ original plat.

A few years ago, while working at the St. Charles County Historical Society in 2010, a crinkled and faded was found. The secretary at that time, Cleta Flynn, was introducing me to some of the more reclusive collections tucked away in corners of the historic building, the City’s original Market House. Saying “if you like old maps, this large map case has a lot of interesting old ones.” I found one that was taped, creased, folded and flattened (something us archivists hate) that appeared to have not seen daylight in a hundred years – which was good for the map – but rather sad.

Keeping the old map handy for the next few years, it would be used for study from time to time. Trying to unlock its secrets, mapthe map did not appear to have any date on it, nor did it have a signature to recognize who had drawn this treasure trove of information. Realizing it was a map of St. Charles, and that it was old (which could be recognized by its ink and paper) we became determined to learn more. It was old, but just how old? And who had drawn it? And why? What was its’ purpose and who was the information for? This wasn’t a map for directions.

The map clearly laid out St. Charles as a grid of streets and cross streets, giving their names. The street names were old and historic – Barbour, Chauncey, Pike and Clay. Over the years we would pull the map out whenever a researcher needed information about early St. Charles. The names of the owners in each of these blocks became very important. It became obvious that if we were to know just when the map was made, perhaps knowing when the owners should be found on such a map, we could possibly discern a date. And so every time we were able, we used the map, taking great care.

Finally we were able to pin the map down to the era of circa 1817, give or take a few years. That is when knowing its importance and wanting to make certain of its preservation, the map was sent off for conservation by Lisa Fox, Head Conservator at the Missouri State Archives. She and her wonderful team worked their magic, carefully removing the old tape, creases, and dirt to reveal an even more magical piece of history. The map, approximately fourteen by seventy-two inches was then digitized in order to enable everyone to delve into its history.

Because of this great work, the map is carefully preserved, yet made available to everyone. Since then, I wanted to know more of the maps other great mysteries. Who was its’ creator and why? Sometimes, when trying to discover the stories found in old documents and maps, you have to travel to the time in which the people lived. So I went to the City’s Record Book A and on Page 8 found this:

Authorizing and ordering the limits of the Town of St. Charles to be estendd [sic] according to the original plan of said town and providing for and ordering a certain proportion of the town commons to be surveyed and divided into lots and regularly numbered which saw lots so surveyed and numbered, together with the Town lots as Extended surveyed & numbered were ordered to be Leased at public sale by the Clerk of the board on the 10th day of September 1821.

City Council Book A Page 8
City of St. Charles Minutes, Book A, Page 8 Microfilm Reel 977.839 Kathryn Linnemann Library

 

Up until 1818, they had been working with a map drawn by Soulard, according to their Minutes. Then there is a bit of a gap,  and then is the above entry. As they immediately start selling and leasing these additional lots, which are NOT shown on this map, this indicates that this map is perhaps the one they started with. During this same time period, they have also employed the surveyors Prospect K. Robbins and Nathan Boone. Five pages later, Prospect K. Robbins is paid $20 for surveying completed on the 18th of  September 1821. Both Robbins and Boone had worked together before, as a 3 man team was needed – Chain man, Link Man and Surveyor. The third team member may have been James Findley who had settled in Troy when it was founded, as early deeds for this same time period refer to a map made by Findley.

And as you begin to understand the history, the next question becomes “why?” The old map that I was using told me a)the layout of the streets and gave a name and a survey number of the owners of the land. It told me about people who owned land in St. Charles. St. Charles had just become the temporary State Capitol and people were flooding in. The names of the streets running parallel to the Missouri River are Main, Second, High and Fourth. The cross streets run from Barbour, which is the original southern city limits to Tecumseh Street on the north. Buildings are not shown, and the land measurement used is the old French foot. The name of the owner, if the lot is owned by someone other than the City, is referred to as a survey number in a personal Surveyor’s book.

When the map was restored and processed by the State Archives conservator in 2013, the dates I had suggested of circa 1820 were also confirmed in their examination of the paper and ink used. Lynn Morrow, with the Missouri State Archives had examined the map before retiring that year. He also suggested that a friend of his in St. Charles, Robert Myers, might be able to shed more light on the mysteries of the old map. When Robert and I met, I took along a copy of “the map”. When the map had been returned to the Archives, I had obtained a print copy for my own research at the same time I had had one made for the Society. Theirs hangs on the wall in the archives. Mine has become well traveled.

Seeing “the old map” Myers asked “if I had ever seen the map in the City offices?” to which I responded no. Formerly Myers had worked for the City of St. Charles and presently works for St. Charles County. He graciously set up an appointment for me to see this other map, and where I would also meet Chuck Lovelace. Not knowing what to expect, I was totally shocked when I was shown a framed copy of another very old map that was almost identical! And it had a seal that attested to being a true and authentic hand drawn (in 1871) copy of “The Original Plat of the City of St. Charles”.While this new map discovered is wonderful with much darker ink, and even more information, it was further confirmation of the first map’s identity. The information on this map, matched exactly, block by block. This was the Original Plat, perhaps a working copy for the surveyor, although which one drew it we don’t know yet.

Working to compare the handwriting of Auguste Chouteau, Antoine Soulard, Nathan Boone, Prospect Robbins and Joseph Evans (who did receive $50 from the City on July 13, 1822 for surveying) has not yet provided an “aha!” moment yet. The closest so far are Nathan Boone and Prospect Robbins.

This map transports us back to town of St. Charles that has emerged from the early settlement founded by Louis Blanchette in 1769. It has grown past its territorial days as a fur traders outpost, and reached a new glory as important State figures walk these same streets we do today. These people were important in that day as the street names affirm: Barbour, Pike, Clay, Madison and Jefferson. There is so much to yet be learned.