An Ordinance Abolishing Slavery in Missouri

Be it ordained by this Project(?) of the State of Missouri in Convention Assembled.

That, hereafter in this State, there shall be neither Slavery, nor involuntary Servitude, except in punishment of crime whereof the party must have been duly convicted, and all persons held to service, or labor as slaves are hereby declared free.

A. Krekel
President of
Missouri State Convention

A [????] copy of the Original Ordinance
as passed and on record
Amos P. Foster
Secr. of the
Mo. State Convention

This document is from the 1865 Constitutional Convention, written just before the end of the Civil War. During the war, Missouri was in the difficult position of being a Union state with countless southern sympathizers. With the end of war in sight, many citizens, Radical Republicans chief among them, felt a new constitution was in order. In February 1864, the General Assembly called for a vote on a convention and ordered that, if approved, the convention would first consider amendments deemed necessary for the emancipation of slaves and then determine how to maintain voting privileges for loyal citizens.

This ordinance was proposed at the constitutional convention that convened January 6, 1865, in St. Louis. Passed on January 11, 1865, the ordinance abolished slavery in Missouri; only four delegates voted against it. This document is significant in the state’s history because it was approved three weeks before the United States Congress proposed the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing slavery in the United States, did not go into effect until December 18, 1865.

This document was one of those rescued from the burning Capitol building after it was struck by lightning on February 5, 1911. Although the Capitol was destroyed, many important documents were saved with varying degrees of damage.