Claiborne Fox Jackson (1806 - 1862)

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Birthplace: Missouri
Death: Died in Missouri
Cause of death: stomach cancer
Managed by: MRA ♥
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About Claiborne Fox Jackson

Claiborne Fox Jackson (April 4, 1806 – December 6, 1862) was a lawyer, soldier, and Democratic politician from Missouri. He was the 15th Governor of Missouri in 1861, then governor-in-exile for the Confederacy during the American Civil War.

Early life

Jackson was born in Fleming County, Kentucky, a son of Dempsey Carroll and Mary Orea "Molly" (Pickett) Jackson. In 1822, he moved with his parents to Missouri, where he became a lawyer. Jackson and his father together owned a very profitable business. He served as a militia officer in the Black Hawk War. He was elected to the state legislature and served twelve years, including a term as Speaker from 1844 to 1846. In 1848, Jackson was elected to the state senate. As leader of the pro-slavery Democrats, he headed efforts to defeat powerful pro-Union Senator Thomas H. Benton. In 1857, Jackson became as Banking Commissioner of Missouri.

Jackson as governor

In the fall of 1860 Jackson resigned as Banking Commissioner to run for governor. Jackson campaigned, and was elected, as a Douglas Democrat, on an anti-secession platform. Immediately after his election, however, Jackson began working behind the scenes for Missouri's secession. Jackson assumed the governor's office on January 2, 1861.

On February 18, Missourians elected a special state convention to decide on secession and other matters. The convention voted 98-1 against secession, despite lobbying by Jackson. Jackson announced that he would continue the policy of his predecessor Robert M. Stewart, whereby Missouri would be an "armed neutral," refusing to give arms or men to either side in the approaching Civil War.

In secret, however, Jackson corresponded with Confederate President Jefferson Davis, making plans to carry Missouri out of the Union by a military coup.

The key point was the U.S. Arsenal in St. Louis, which contained large stocks of arms and ammunition. Jackson plotted to seize the Arsenal, and asked Davis to send artillery to breach the Arsenal's walls.

After the bombardment of Fort Sumter on April 12-13, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation for the states to call up their militia and provide 75,000 troops to the Federal government to suppress the rebellion. He sent specific requests to all states, including Missouri.

Jackson responded,

"Sir: Your dispatch of the 15th instant, making a call on Missouri for four regiments of men for immediate service, as been received. There can be, I apprehend, no doubt that the men are intended to form a part of the President's army to make war upon the people of the seceded states. Your requisition, in my judgment, is illegal, unconstitutional, and revolutionary in its object, inhuman, and diabolical and cannot be complied with. Not one man will the State of Missouri furnish to carry on any unholy crusade." The commander of the Arsenal was Captain Nathaniel Lyon, a pro-Union regular Army officer. On April 26, 1861, under orders form Secretary of War Simon Cameron Lyon, worked with Missouri Volunteers and Illinois troops to secretly moved 21,000 weapons (of 39,000 small arms present in the Arsenal) across the Mississippi River to Alton, Illinois.

Camp Jackson

In May 1861, Jackson ordered the Missouri Volunteer Militia to assemble at St. Louis for six days of training. They assembled in Lindell's Grove on the city's western outskirts, in an encampment now called Camp Jackson. Governor Jackson's order to assemble the militia was legal according to the Missouri state constitution, as long as the encampment was intended only for training, and not for offensive action against Federal forces. However, the St. Louis Militia was commanded largely by secessionists, and had recently enlisted a new regiment (2nd Regiment MVM) composed almost completely by secessionists. Also, artillery seized by Confederates from the U.S. Arsenal in Baton Rouge was secretly shipped to St. Louis by steamboat and delivered to Camp Jackson.

Lyon responded to the perceived threat with force. On May 10, 1861, Lyon surrounded Camp Jackson with pro-Union volunteer "Home Guards" (mostly drawn from the German immigrants of St. Louis), and took the Miltia prisoner. The prisoners were marched to the Arsenal, and during the march a riot broke out, leading to gunfire. Several soldiers, prisoners, and bystanders were killed.

Civil war in Missouri

On May 11, 1861, Jackson appointed Sterling Price to be Major General of the Missouri State Guard to resist invasion (by federal forces) and suppress insurrection (by Missouri Unionist Volunteers in Federal service). On May 12, Price met with General William S. Harney, the Federal commander in Missouri. They agreed to the Price-Harney Truce, which permitted Missouri to remain neutral for the moment. Theoretically, Price promised that the state forces, and the state government, would hold the state for the Union and prevent the entry of Confederate forces. However, at the same time Governor Jackson had (secretly) dispatched envoys to CSA President Jefferson Davis and Confederate commanders in Arkansas asking for an immediate invasion of the state, and promising the State Guard would cooperate with the Confederate Army in a campaign against Federal forces to effect the "liberation" of St. Louis. In addition, Lt Governor Thomas C. Richardson traveled to Richmond, with the agreement of Major General Price, to ask Jefferson Davis to order an invasion of the state.

Missouri Unionists were diamayed at what they perceived as Harney's one-sided adherence to the truce, and petitioned for Harney's removal from command. Harney was eventually removed on May 30, and temporarily replaced with Lyon, who was promoted from captain to brigadier general of volunteers.

On June 11, 1861, Jackson met with Lyon, hoping to extend the truce, but Lyon refused. Lyon marched on Jefferson City with his forces, entering on June 13. Jackson and other pro-Confederate officials fled to Boonville, Missouri. Union forces routed the State Guard at Boonville on June 17. At the Carthage on July 5, Jackson himself took command of 6,000 State Guards, and drove back a much smaller Union detachment. However, the Union forces were in a dominating position, and Lyon chased Jackson and Price to the far southwest of the state.

On July 22, 1861, a special all-Unionist Missouri State Convention met in Jefferson City. The convention voted against secession, and on July 27, it declared the governor's office vacant. On July 28 the convention appointed Hamilton Gamble as provisional governor. Missouri would have an unelected governor for the remainder of the war.

On October 28, 1861, in Neosho, Missouri, some secessionist members of the Missouri General Assembly met (with Jackson present) and passed an ordinance of secession. The Confederacy recognized Missouri as its twelfth state, with Jackson as governor. However, Union forces occupied almost all of Missouri and Jackson took refuge in Arkansas.

In late 1862, Jackson died from stomach cancer at age 56 in Little Rock, Arkansas. He was survived by his wife, Eliza. Governor Jackson is buried in the Sappington Cemetery in Arrow Rock, Missouri. He was succeeded as Confederate Governor of Missouri by Thomas Caute Reynolds.

In memoriam

The Claiborne Fox Jackson Provisional Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (Caimito, Panama) is named in his honor.

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Claiborne Fox Jackson, 1st Confederate Governor of Missouri's Timeline

April 4, 1806
February 17, 1831
Age 24
Saline Co., Missouri
September 12, 1833
Age 27
Salina Co., Missouri
July 13, 1834
Age 28
Arrow Rock, Missouri
April 25, 1836
Age 30
April, 1838
Age 31
November 27, 1838
Age 32
Saline Co., Missouri
Age 32
Age 33
Age 39