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The St. Louis Mercantile Library

Tour Stop

Directions: In 1861, The St. Louis Mercantile Library [ Waypoint = N38 37.706 W90 11.319 ] was located in a building at 510 Locust Street in St. Louis, Missouri 63102. In 1998, the library was moved to its current location on the campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

  • Cross over to the south side of Locust Street.
  • Walk west for about a half block and you should see the 510 Locust Street address and the sign for the Mercantile Library.
The former location of the St. Louis Mercantile Library at 510 Locust Street The St. Louis Mercantile Library building at 510 Locust Street circa 1870

Description: Again, there is not much to see, but this was a very historic location in 1861 and then later in 1865. The St. Louis Mercantile Library opened its doors at the 510 Locust Street location in November 1854. This location played a key role in 1861. The Missouri State Convention would meet in the library's auditorium in March of 1861.

Claiborne Fox Jackson, Governor, Missouri

In his inaugural address on January 3, 1861, Missouri Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson had called for a state convention in order to settle the question of secession for Missouri. On January 18th, the legislature voted to approve a Missouri State Convention. The purpose of the convention would be to determine whether or not Missouri would secede from the union to “vindicate the sovereignty of the State and the protection of her institutions.” On February 18th, Missourians voted to choose delegates for the Missouri State Convention. Not a single, openly avowed Secessionist was elected. The delegates' political beliefs were split evenly between Conditional Unionists and Unconditional Unionists. The Convention met in Jefferson City on February 28th but decided to adjourn and move to St. Louis where they would meet in the auditorium of the St. Louis Mercantile Library. [79]

The resolutions recommended by the Committee on Federal Relations and adopted by the Convention held: [80]

  1. There is at present no adequate cause to secede.
  2. The Union shall be perpetuated and harmony restored.
  3. The Crittenden amendments are recommended.
  4. A convention of all States shall propose amendments to the United States Constitution.
  5. Coercion will cause civil war; therefore the military power of the United States and of the Seceded States should be withheld and stayed.
  6. The Convention should adjourn to December 3, 1861, or be subject to a call of an appointed Committee.
Allegorical print commemorating the ordinance providing for the immediate emancipation of slaves in Missouri that was passed on January 11, 1865

Another significant event that took place in the auditorium of the St. Louis Mercantile Library was the abolishment of slavery in the State of Missouri. In 1865 there was a session of the Missouri State Convention that met from January 6 to April 10 in 1865. On January 11th, the State Convention passed the following ordinance: [81]

An Ordinance

Abolishing Slavery in Missouri

Be it ordained by the People 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 shall have been duly convicted; and all persons held to service or labor as slaves are hereby declared free.

Passed in Convention, January eleventh, A. D. one thousand eight hundred and sixty-five.

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