Friday, April 5, 2013

Clairborne Fox Jackson, born April 4, 1806

Claiborne Fox Jackson, one of ten children of Dempsey Carroll and Mary Orea "Molly" (Pickett) Jackson, was born in Fleming County, Kentucky, where his father was a wealthy tobacco farmer and slaveholder. 
Fleming County Courthouse
He was 55 years old when the Civil War began.

Howard County, Missouri
In 1826, Jackson moved with several of his older brothers to Missouri, settling in the Howard County town of Franklin.  Many of the first immigrants who settled in this region came from the South. They brought their slaves and established small and large farms along the Missouri River.  The Jackson brothers established a successful general mercantile store, where young Claiborne worked.  The establishment of the Santa Fe trail opened up a prosperous trade with Mexico.

Dr. John Sappington, 
Jackson's Father-in-law
In 1831, Jackson married Jane Breathhitt Sappington, daughter of John Sappington, a wealthy physician and slaveholder.  She died within a few months of the wedding, at the age of 18.
Grave of Jane Sappington Jackson

In 1832, with the outbreak of hostilities in the Black Hawk War, Jackson organized, and was elected captain of, a unit of Howard County volunteers for the conflict. 
Returning from the war, Jackson chose not to resume his business partnership with his brothers, instead deciding to try his fortune in nearby Saline County. 

In 1833, he married Louisa Catherine Sappington, sister of his late first wife. 

He also worked with his father-in-law in the manufacture and sale of "Dr. Sappington's Anti-Fever Pills", a patent medicine cure for malaria. The pills were widely distributed and a best-seller, especially in the American south and the then-Mexican southwest. Subsequently both men and their extended family became quite wealthy and influential.

Jackson was first elected to the Missouri General Assembly in 1836, representing Saline County. 

Tragedy struck in May, 1838 when Louisa Jackson died. It is possible this was due to complications of childbirth, as the Jackson's infant son,  Andrew, died the next month in June, 1838. 

Grave of Louisa Jackson
Jackson's next, and final, marriage was in 1838 to a third Sappington sister, Eliza.  Eliza was 32 years old at the time of their marriage, the same age as her new husband. Eliza would survive her husband by two years.
Eliza Sappington Jackson, Third Wife
Through his family connections with Dr. Sappington, Jackson, along with his brother-in-law  Meredith Marmaduke, became involved with Missouri Democratic politics. He moved to the Howard County seat of Fayette, Missouri -- then a center of political power in the state—in 1838 and worked for the local branch of the state bank. 

In 1840, Jackson very nearly found himself involved in a duel over politics. Writing anonymously to a Fayette newspaper, he made accusations that the Whig candidate for Missouri Governor that year, John B. Clark, was guilty of election fraud. More harsh words were exchanged and eventually Clark challenged Jackson to a duel before cooler heads prevailed and the matter was settled without gunplay.  
John B. Clark
Later, once Clark had switched party allegiance to the Democrats, he and Jackson became political allies.

Jackson would serve a total of twelve years in the Missouri House, including terms as Speaker in 1844 and 1846.  As leader of the pro-slavery Democrats, he headed efforts to defeat Senator Thomas Hart Benton.  Senator Benton’s forceful opposition to the further extension of slavery again brought him into direct conflict with the South and many Missourians.  Led by Jackson, in 1848 Missouri’s General Assembly passed a series of measures called the Jackson Resolutions.  The measures opposed Benton and asserted that Congress had no power to limit or prohibit slavery in the territories. These resolutions also instructed Missouri’s representatives in Washington DC to support the extension of slavery into the territories.
Senator Thomas Hart Benton
In 1850, with a family of seven, including five children between the ages of six and sixteen, he had property holdings in Howard County worth $10,000 and owned twenty slaves.  In 1856, at the death of his father-in-law, John Sappington,  Jackson inherited a large portion of the estate, including the Sappington home in the Arrow Rock district of Saline County. As a result, in 1860 he owned real estate worth nearly $49,900 and 38 slaves, and held personal property valued at $71,500. 

Living at Fox Castle, the Sappington plantation, Jackson listed himself in the 1860 census as a farmer, as did two of his three adult sons who still resided with the family. Fourteen of his slaves were males between the ages of thirteen and fifty-three, indicating that they were field hands, which suggests that Jackson operated a substantial plantation and had advanced into the ranks of the planter elite.

In 1857, Jackson became Banking Commissioner of Missouri. As Commissioner Jackson traveled to various locations around the state inspecting banking facilities, while at the same time building a power base for his next attempt at elected office, Governor of Missouri.

In the fall of 1860, Jackson resigned as Banking Commissioner to run for governor. As Jackson stumped the state, leaders of the state’s two Democratic factions confronted him about his nonsupport of either presidential candidate. Forced to declare one or the other or lose the support of both, Jackson again sought neutral ground. At Fayette (the final stop on his canvass), he claimed personal support of Breckinridge but conceded that Douglas was the party’s best hope for the presidency.  Though he strongly disagreed with Douglas' stance on slavery in the territories, he came out for Douglas.  Jackson won a narrow victory over Constitutional Unionist Sample Orr and two other candidates.

With Abraham Lincoln’s presidential victory in 1860, Jackson’s moderate stance changed abruptly.  Immediately after his election, he began working behind the scenes for Missouri's secession.  Jackson assumed the governor's office on January 2, 1861. During his inaugural address he declared that Missouri shared a common bond and interest with other states that allowed slavery and could not separate herself from them if the Union should be dissolved. He further called for a state convention to decide the issue.

On February 18, Missourians elected a special state convention to decide on secession and other matters. The convention voted 98-1 against secession, despite lobbying by Jackson. Jackson announced that he would continue the policy of his predecessor, whereby Missouri would be an "armed neutral," refusing to give arms or men to either side in the approaching Civil War.  
Jackson was carrying on secret correspondence with Confederate President Jefferson Davis, making plans to carry Missouri out of the Union by a military coup. The key point was the U.S. Arsenal in St. Louis, which contained large stocks of arms and ammunition. Jackson plotted to seize the Arsenal, and asked Davis to send artillery to breach the Arsenal's walls.
St. Louis Arsenal
After the bombardment of Fort Sumter on April 12–13, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation for the states to call up their militia and provide 75,000 troops to the Federal government to suppress the rebellion. He sent specific requests to all states, including Missouri.  Jackson wrote to Simon Cameron, Secretary of War,"Sir: Your dispatch of the 15th instant, making a call on Missouri for four regiments of men for immediate service, as been received. There can be, I apprehend, no doubt that the men are intended to form a part of the President's army to make war upon the people of the seceded states. Your requisition, in my judgment, is illegal, unconstitutional, and revolutionary in its object, inhuman, and diabolical and cannot be complied with. Not one man will the State of Missouri furnish to carry on any unholy crusade."
Jackson's Letter to Cameron
The commander of the Arsenal was Captain Nathaniel Lyon, a pro-Union regular Army  officer.  On April 26, 1861, under orders form Secretary of War Simon Cameron, Lyon worked with Missouri Volunteers and Illinois troops to secretly move 21,000 weapons (of 39,000 small arms present in the Arsenal) across the Mississippi River to Alton, Illinois.

Nathaniel Lyon
On May 3, 1861, Jackson ordered the Missouri Volunteer Militia to assemble at various encampments throughout Missouri, including St. Louis, for six days of training.  They assembled in Lindell's Grove on the city's western outskirts, in an encampment now called Camp Jackson. Governor Jackson's order to assemble the militia was legal according to the Missouri state constitution, as long as the encampment was intended only for training, and not for offensive action against Federal forces. However, the St. Louis Militia was commanded largely by secessionists, and had recently enlisted a new regiment composed almost completely by secessionists.  Also, artillery seized by Confederates from the U.S. Arsenal in Baton Rouge was secretly shipped to St. Louis by steamboat and delivered to Camp Jackson.

Lyon responded to the perceived threat with force. On May 10, 1861, Lyon surrounded Camp Jackson with pro-Union volunteer "Home Guards" (mostly drawn from the German immigrants of St. Louis), and took the Militia captive.  The prisoners were marched to the Arsenal, and during the march a riot broke out.  During two days of rioting, several soldiers, prisoners, and bystanders were killed. 

Alarmed by the incident, the Missouri Legislature immediately acted on Governor Jackson's call for a bill dividing he state into military districts and authorizing a State Guard.  On May 11, 1861, Jackson appointed Sterling Price to be Major General of the Missouri State Guard to resist invasion (by federal forces) and suppress insurrection by Missouri Unionist Volunteers in Federal service. 

On May 12, Price met with General William Harney, the Federal commander in Missouri. They agreed to the Price-Harney Truce, which permitted Missouri to remain neutral for the moment.  Theoretically, Price promised that the state forces, and the state government, would hold the state for the Union and prevent the entry of Confederate forces. 
William Harney
However, at the same time, Governor Jackson had secretly dispatched envoys to Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Confederate commanders in Arkansas, asking for an immediate invasion of the state.  He promised that  the State Guard would cooperate with the Confederate Army in a campaign against Federal forces to effect the "liberation" of St. Louis. 

Missouri Unionists were dismayed at what they perceived as Harney's one-sided adherence to the truce, and petitioned for Harney's removal from command. Harney was eventually removed on May 30, and temporarily replaced with Lyon, who was promoted from captain to brigadier general of volunteers.

On June 11, 1861, Jackson met with Lyon, hoping to extend the truce, but Lyon refused. Lyon marched on Jefferson City, the Missouri state capitol, with his forces, entering on June 13.  

Battle of Boonville
Jackson and other pro-Confederate officials fled to Boonville, Missouri. 
John Sappington Marmaduke
Union forces routed the State Guard, commanded by Jackson's nephew, John Sappington Marmaduke, at Boonville on June 17. 
Cartoon published after the battle of Boonville
On July 5, Jackson himself took command of 6,000 State Guards at Carthage, and drove back a much smaller Union detachment. However, the Union forces were in a dominating position, and Lyon chased Jackson and Price to the far southwest of the state.
Sterling Price
On July 22, the Missouri State Convention reconvened in Jefferson City. The convention again voted against secession, and on July 27, it declared the governor's office vacant. On July 28 the convention appointed Hamilton Gamble as provisional governor. Missouri would have an unelected governor for the remainder of the war. 
Hamilton Gamble
On August 5, Jackson issued a proclamation declaring Missouri a free republic and dissolving all ties with the Union. He then traveled to Richmond, Virginia to meet with Confederate President Davis, seeking support for Sterling Price's forces and official recognition by the Confederate government.
Jefferson Davis
On October 28, 1861, in Neosho, Missouri, secessionist members of the Missouri General Assembly met (with Jackson present) and passed an ordinance. On November 28, 1861 the Confederacy recognized Missouri as its twelfth state, with Jackson as governor.

However, Union forces occupied almost all of Missouri at the time, making the recognition moot.  Jackson took refuge in Arkansas with General Price and the Missouri army, where they were defeated at the Battle of Pea Ridge in March 1862.
Battle of Pea Ridge
Jackson traveled to Little Rock, Arkansas in the spring of 1862 to regroup and meet with wealthy Missouri secessionists who had fled south. They talked of a new campaign to retake Missouri.  In November they met again for military planning meetings. 
Clairborne Jackson at the time of the Civil War
On December 6, 1862, Jackson died from stomach cancer at age 56 in a Little Rock rooming house. 

A burial in Missouri was not possible because of the ongoing war, and he was buried in Little Rock's Mount Holly Cemetery. 

Following the end of the Civil War he was exhumed, and re-interred in the Sappington Cemetery near Arrow Rock, Missouri.

Grave of Clairborne Fox Jackson and his wife, Eliza

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