2018 Missouri Summer Teachers Academy


Officially in the books, our third annual Summer Teachers Academy brought high school educators from all over the state—from Trenton to Ste. Genevieve to Willard, and from Kansas City to St. Louis—to Columbia to spend June 12-14 studying Missouri history alongside Mizzou faculty and invited guests of the Kinder Institute and Missouri Humanities Council, our co-sponsors for the event. In addition to the regular seminars, teachers also were treated to an historic campus tour with MU Emeritus Director of Admissions Gary Smith, a pair of lunch discussions with incoming Kinder Postdoc Luke Perez and KBIA Senior Reporter Kristofor Husted, and a keynote dinner lecture on “The State the Union Couldn’t Swallow” with Kinder Institute Associate Director Jeff Pasely. Though not full recaps, included in the list of seminars below are some of the highlights from those sessions that we were able to sneak out of the office to attend.

Session 1: “Border State Conservatism and Political Abolition during the Civil War,” with Kinder Institute Grad Fellow in American Political History Zach Dowdle (June 12)

…In a letter to ally James Broadhead written in the wake of his failed 1857 run at the Missouri Governor’s office, a race he lost to Democrat and New York transplant Robert Stewart, James Sidney Rollins chalked his defeat up to being soft on slavery and suggested to Broadhead that he would become electable only by out-slaving the slave democracy. The idea appalled the letter’s reader, but it was a strategy that Rollins would nonetheless deploy, appealing to pro-slavery sentiment in the heart of the state on his way to winning the 1860 and 1862 House elections. And at least initially, this would continue while Rollins was in D.C., where, as a Constitutional Unionist, he may have been dismayed by southern secession but still voted and spoke out against efforts to end slavery.

And then, on January 31, 1865, everything changed, and Rollins cast a critical swing vote that led to the passage of the 13th Amendment. But why? What happened in the six or so months between June 1864, when he voted against the Amendment, and January 1865? As Dowdle argued, there are various approaches we can take to answering this question. On one hand, from a perspective of political maneuvering, appealing to pro-slavery Missourians had become strategically moot. Not only had Rollins committed to retire from politics, but Missouri had also abolished slavery in the state just weeks before the January vote in the House. At the same time, though, the rhetoric that Rollins used in speaking to Congress and the press about the need to abolish slavery suggests at least some moral motivation underlying his shift. He thanked God, for example, that the nation would no longer defend such a heinous violation of natural rights, and he would later publicly champion fellow Missouri Representative John Brooks Henderson, the author of the Thirteenth Amendment, for crafting a text as heroically important as the Declaration of Independence…

Session 2: “The Political Crisis of the 1850s along the Missouri-Kansas Border,” MU Professor of History and Kinder Institute Chair in Constitutional Democracy Jay Sexton

…Often overlooked in conversations about the violent, pre-Civil War chaos that broke out along the border of Kansas and Missouri are the international changes that helped trigger it. By the late 1840s, Prof. Sexton explained, the U.S. had become a secure power for the first time in its history, a fact that is significant here for how it underscores the degree to which American statecraft during the late-18th and early-19th centuries was driven by fear of international threats to the young nation. Particularly in the territories east and then west of the Mississippi, concerns that foreign intervention could fragment the union—that settlers’ political allegiance might be for sale to the highest bidder—led the United States to prioritize stability over meaningfully addressing the issue of slavery. And as seen in the Northwest vs. Southwest Ordinances, this resulted in the U.S. “leading from behind” when it came to territorial policy, deferring to existing labor practices or structures in legislating slavery in new states.

The Mexican-American War, Prof. Sexton went on to note, marks a critical, though also somewhat overlooked, inflection point in this narrative. That Great Britain not only supported but also financed the United States’ post-war acquisition of California and other western territories points to a broader shift in European interest away from testing the United States’ authority and toward fostering—and profiting from—North American economic development. With this, the need to promote geopolitical security at all costs could no longer reasonably serve as a binding force of nation for the U.S. and, in turn, the slave question could no longer be sidestepped. Instead, it would become immediately central to national administration, and as the federal government feebly attempted to address this question—with the Compromise of 1850 and the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act—a cycle of violence was quickly developing in and around Lawrence…

Session 3: “Mormonizing Political and Religious Dissent in 19th-century Missouri,” Arent Fox LLP Attorney Stephen S. Davis

Session 4: “Missouri’s Native Population in the Early 19th Century,” Missouri State Archives Curator of Exhibits and Special Projects Greg Olson

Session 5: “The Disestablishment of the Catholic Church in Louisiana Territory and Religious Liberty,” Missouri State University Associate Professor of Political Science Kevin Pybas

Session 6: “Constitutional Revision in Missouri: The Convention of 1943-44,” MU Professor of Political Science and Kinder Institute Director Justin Dyer

…Though many predate the U.S. Constitution—Massachusetts’, for example, is the longest standing constitution in the world—state constitutions rarely make headlines, a lack of attention that belies their importance. From education to property rights to drinking water legislation, much of what government does—much of what government is designed to do—happens at the state level and is thus determined by state constitutions.

In the case of Missouri, the act of arriving at a workable constitution has been uniquely circuitous. The original 1820 Constitution was replaced in 1865 with the ardently unionist “Drake Constitution,” which was itself supplanted ten years later. Stable by Missouri standards, the 1875 Constitution would be in place for decades, though in a plot twist at the heart of Prof. Dyer’s talk, it would be amended early in the 20th century to allow for constitutional amendment by initiative. And this is exactly what happened in 1942, when Missourians voted to convene a new constitutional convention. And so with the support of newspaper editorial boards, civic organizations, and business leaders—academics even composed manuals for how to go about organizing and executing an endeavor of this scope—a bipartisan cohort of 82 delegates plus Chairperson Robert Blake gathered in Jefferson City to draft the current Missouri Constitution, ratified in 1945 (though amended countless times since) and modernized to address what were considered key issues of the World War II/post-Depression era, including home rule for big cities, judicial selection processes, balanced budgets, and municipal taxation powers…

Session 7: “Paving over Paradise: Black Columbians’ Struggle for Statehood,” MU History Ph.D. Candidate Mary Beth Brown

Session 8: “Missourians and their Environment, MU Emeritus Professor of History Susan Flader

…As Prof. Flader noted in framing out her talk, at the core of the history of the conservation movement in Missouri is a clash of political cultures. For example, due to a disproportionately rural and traditionalist state legislature around the turn of century, the state could only muster modest budgetary support for conservation efforts, despite being led by the progressive and moralistic Herbert Hadley. Under Governor Arthur Hyde, however, and thanks in large part to the rise of pro-conservation citizen groups like the Izaak Walton League, a 5% cut of fishing and hunting licenses for state forests became 25%, and this trend of support would continue to gain traction. In the years following, citizen petition initiatives incrementally pushed back against the mistrust of government fomented in Ozark-area political culture, and after World War II, conservation victories started to roll in: the passage of the State Forestry Act, the establishment of the Missouri State River System, and more than one successful bid to secure tax-based funding to support the Missouri Department of Conservation. But no victory has been more significant than Leo Drey’s steady acquisition of land that would become the Pioneer Forest, a nearly 160,000-acre demonstration forest that reveals the myriad values of sustainable eco-management and serves as a metaphor of sorts for the state as a whole’s growing commitment to building a premier park system and to preserving Missouri’s environmental crown jewels…

Session 9: “Separation of Church & State: Missouri’s Prohibition on State Funding and the Case of Trinity Lutheran,” Kinder Institute Postdoctoral Fellow in American Politics David Golemboski