Missouri's Confederate: Claiborne Fox Jackson and the Creation of Southern Identity in the Border West

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University of Missouri Press, 2000 - Biography & Autobiography - 342 pages
Claiborne Fox Jackson (1806-1862) remains one of Missouri's most controversial historical figures. Elected Missouri's governor in 1860 after serving as a state legislator and Democratic party chief, Jackson was the force behind a movement for the neutral state's secession before a federal sortie exiled him from office. Although Jackson's administration was replaced by a temporary government that maintained allegiance to the Union, he led a rump assembly that drafted an ordinance of secession in October 1861 and spearheaded its acceptance by the Confederate Congress. Despite the fact that the majority of the state's populace refused to recognize the act, the Confederacy named Missouri its twelfth state the following month. A year later Jackson died in exile in Arkansas, an apparent footnote to the war that engulfed his region and that consumed him. In this first full-length study of Claiborne Fox Jackson, Christopher Phillips offers much more than a traditional biography. His extensive analysis of Jackson's rise to power through the tangle that was Missouri's antebellum politics and of Jackson's complex actions in pursuit of his state's secession complete the deeper and broader story of regional identity--one that began with a growing defense of the institution of slavery and which crystallized during and after the bitter, internecine struggle in the neutral border state during the American Civil War. Placing slavery within the realm of western democratic expansion rather than of plantation agriculture in border slave states such as Missouri, Philips argues that southern identity in the region was not born, but created. While most rural Missourians were proslavery, their "southernization" transcended such boundaries, with southern identity becoming a means by which residents sought to reestablish local jurisdiction in defiance of federal authority during and after the war. This identification, intrinsically political and thus ideological, centered-and still centers-upon the events surrounding the Civil War, whether in Missouri or elsewhere. By positioning personal and political struggles and triumphs within Missourians' shifting identity and the redefinition of their collective memory, Phillips reveals the complex process by which these once Missouri westerners became and remain Missouri southerners. Missouri's Confederate not only provides a fascinating depiction of Jackson and his world but also offers the most complete scholarly analysis of Missouri's maturing antebellum identity. Anyone with an interest in the Civil War, the American West, or the American South will find this important new biography a powerful contribution to our understanding of nineteenth-century America and the origins-as well as the legacy-of the Civil War.

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Contents

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Page 50 - The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing.
Page 38 - I regret that I am now to die in the belief, that the useless sacrifice of themselves by the generation of 1776, to acquire self-government and happiness to their country, is to be thrown away by the unwise and unworthy passions of their sons, and that my only consolation is to be, that I live not to weep over it.
Page 242 - The object of the convention, as defined in its call, was "to consider the then existing relations between the Government of the United States, the people and governments of the different States, and the government and people of the State of Missouri; and to adopt such measures for vindicating the sovereignty of the State and the protection of its institutions as shall appear to them to be demanded.
Page 299 - They ought not to be allowed much space among better people — people who did something. I grant that, but they ought at least to be allowed to state why they didn't do anything and also to explain the process by which they didn't do anything. Surely this kind of light must have a sort of value. Out West there was a good deal of confusion in men's minds during the first months of the great trouble — a good deal of unsettledness, of leaning first this way, then that, then the other way.
Page 51 - When the inhabitant of a democratic country compares himself individually with all those about him, he feels with pride that he is the equal of any one of them; but when he comes to survey the totality of his fellows, and to place himself in contrast with so huge a body, he is instantly overwhelmed by the sense of his own insignificance and weakness.
Page 263 - State; rather than concede to the State of Missouri for one single instant the right to dictate to my government in any matter however unimportant, I would...

About the author (2000)

Christopher Phillips is an educator, a freelance writer, and the founder of the non-profit Society for Philosophical Inquiry.