Excerpt of James O. Broadhead's Speech Before the Missouri Convention
March 14, 1861

In this 1861 speech, James O. Broadhead agrues against secession for the state of Missouri, but does not argue against slavery. 

[Mr. Broadhead:] Missouri as a member of a Southern Confederacy would be a non-slaveholding State in a slave community, for slaves would be driven off, because we are surrounded by a cordon of free States into which our slaves would escape, and slavery would not exist ten years after Missouri joined a Southern Confederacy. As she stands now, she is protected; and I am willing to go as far as any living man to protect the institution of slavery in the State of Missouri. I have no prejudice against the institution. I have been raised with the institution, and I know something of it. I am a slave owner myself; but I am not willing to sacrifice other interests to the slave interest, or say that it is the peculiar institution of Missouri, when we know that it is not true. I am not willing to sacrifice to the slave interest, the commercial, mining, or other interests of the State. I stand here not as a Southern man, but as a Missourian and an American citizen. Born at the South, I think I know something of my duty to the South as well as to the Constitution of my country. — But, further than this. Look at the position of Missouri in a geographical point of view. Here she is in the temperate zone, the home of the white man, in the middle of a great valley, and, whether you go east or west, you find similar institutions to those that almost surround us. All these States want a communication through this State, and Missouri is the pathway through which they must travel; and they will have that pathway just as certain as we will have an outlet to the ocean. And more than this, efforts have been made for the purpose of connecting the Atlantic with the Pacific Ocean, by means of a railroad, in order that the wealth of the Indies may be poured into the lap of this country of ours. And Missouri stands in the pathway of nations; over her soil this pathway must run, just as inevitably as fate. And do you suppose that the accumulated interest of the East and the West, and I may say the world, will ever submit to have an interdict placed upon that pathway. I say, then, gentlemen of the Convention, that Missouri cannot go out of the Union if she would; and I think I know what I say when I speak it, that she has not the power to go out of the Union if she would...

Our ancestors periled all in the formation of this Government; they pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor, to maintain the principles of republican liberty. Are we willing to do less? Are our lives and honor worth more than theirs? Certainly not. Could they, but three months ago, or five months ago, have seen this country in the pride of its power—could they have seen the morning light of science which but dimly dawned upon their vision, shining more and more brightly even unto the perfect day—could they have seen the elements harnessed down to the service and wants of man—could they have seen our mightiest rivers spanned with the triumphal arches, and the distant portions of the continent united by bands of iron, upon which are borne by a power not known to them, the peaceful caravan of commerce, which the victories of peace have brought us—could they have seen all these triumphs, how much would they not have pledged for their eternal preservation? Shall Missouri do less? Shall she cast the bark of her hopes upon the stormy sea of revolution, or will she remain, as I think she will, firmly anchored upon the rock of the Constitution, under the protection of our national flag? So far as she is concerned, she should live there and die there.


Journal And Proceedings of the Missouri State Convention: Held At Jefferson City And St. Louis, March, 1861 (St. Louis, [Mo.]: G. Knapp & co., printers, 1861), 122-123.