William W. Edwards Calls for Emancipation
November 2, 1863

In September 1863, William W. Edwards attended a convention of radical Unionists in Jefferson City, Missouri, and he helped draft a platform calling for immediate emancipation.


Jefferson City, September 2

 The Convention this afternoon began work on resolutions. One was passed denouncing the St. Louis Republican.

A committee of five, composed of Messrs. Gohbel, Jameson, Trapp, Andrew and Hayward, to which were afterwards added Gratz Brown and Emil Pretorius, was appointed to prepare a system of organization for safety.

A resolution was passed for the appointment of suitable persons to canvass their respective counties in behalf of the proceedings of the Convention.

Mr. Johnson, from the Committee on Platform and Resolutions, reported the following, the reading of which was received with demonstrations of the liveliest applause:

We, the loyal people of the State of Missouri, in mass convention assembled, at the City of Jefferson, for the purpose of expressing our sentiments upon those questions of vital importance, made imperative by the present condition of our State and National affairs, to assert those inalienable rights and privileges justly belonging to a free people, to afford each other that mutual aid and encouragement which we owe to one another, during the existing struggle, and to proclaim those principle[s] by which we shall be governed, and which we deem necessary for us to adhere to and battle for while carrying on to a complete and triumphant termination of the great struggle for the preservation of the Republic and the security of the great principles of freedom, progress and justice, do hereby promulgate and declare,

  1. We will sustain the Government in the vigorous prosecution of the war to the complete and final suppression of the rebellion, and to this we pledge all our energies and efforts.
  2. That we deprecate and denounce the military policy pursued in this State, and the delegation by the General Government of military powers to a Provisional State organization, the whole tendency of which is to throw back our people under the control of pro-slavery and reactionary influences, to paralyze the Federal power in suppressing the rebellion, and to prolong a reign of terror throughout large sections of the State, and to extend aid and comfort to those who are meditating hostility to the national authority in other States.
  3. That we do most heartily indorse the principles first enunciated by General Fremont in his proclamation of freedom of August 31, 1861, and afterwards sanctioned and embodied in the President’s proclamation of September 22, 1862, and January 1, 1863; that the salvation of the nation demands the prompt execution of said proclamations in spirit and in letter; that in all forthcoming struggles we shall recognize no man as our standard-bearer who is not pledged emphatically for said principles, and that those liberated under such proclamations cannot be reduced to slavery again; and that we will not sustain any reorganization of the country that does not embody the freedom principles therein contained.
  4. That this nation cannot look with indifference upon the attempt of European powers to establish on this continent a foreign control and influences dangerous to the independence of its people and the development and extension of free principles, and that it is the duty of our Government to resist any such innovation.
  5. That we arraign the Provisional Government as untrue to the loyal people of this State; First—As having usurped power and exercised it for sinister ends. Second—As having prostituted an assumed independent military power to the purpose of maintaining policies antagonistic to the General Government and an institution hostile to the welfare of the State. Third—As having imprisoned loyal men for expressing sentiments in opposition to the State Government. 4th—As having disarmed the loyal population in disturbed districts and having tolerated avowed and enrolled disloyalists everywhere. Fifth—As having issued orders in direct violation of the articles of war, in conflict with the orders of the War Department—and having refused to cooperate with the General Government, in cases of direct invasion, by withdrawing its troops from the service. Sixth—As having refused to permit enlistments into the United States volunteer forces by disqualifying orders. Seventh—As having used persistent efforts to have removed from command officers, displaying energetic action in the suppression of the rebellion, and to have suspended all orders levying assessments against disloyalists, finally refusing to cooperate in their execution. Eighth—As having enrolled, commissioned and brought into active service known and avowed disloyalists. Ninth—As having issued orders in violation of the Constitution and the laws.
  6. That we demand a policy of immediate emancipation in Missouri, because it is necessary not only to the financial condition of the State and the prosecution of its industrial enterprises and internal improvements, but especially because it is essential to the security of the lives of our citizens, the peace of our homes, and the quiet of our communities.
  7. That we are in favor of a constitutional enactment for the disfranchisement of all those who have taken up arms, or levied war against the Government, or adhered to the enemies thereof, in the present rebellion; that to allow them the free and unrestricted use of the ballot-box would be making them more dangerous than they were in the field, and would tend directly to the subversion and destruction of the Government.
  8. That we demand of our General Assembly to call a convention of the people, to take into consideration the grievances under which the State now labors, and to redress the wrongs which have been inflicted upon it by usurped authority; and that if our General Assembly shall refuse so to do, we will take such measures as will elicit the voice and the action of the people of this State.
  9. That Conventions are, in the nature of sovereign remedies, applied by the people for the redress of grievances; that they are extra constitutional, and while the custom has been to signify the will of the people for such call through their General Assembly, yet in the default of action on the part of the General Assembly, or in case of their refusal to obey instructions, nothing can derogate from the right of the people to act in their capacity.

C. P. JOHNSON                     S. H. BOYD
JOS R WINCHELL                A. L. GILSTRAP
JAMES W. OWEN                 WM. W. EDWARDS
L. C. MARVIN                       W. R. PENICK



Daily Missouri Republican, 3 September 1863