Military & Service


Excerpt From the History of Adair, Sullivan, Putnam and Schuyler Counties, Missouri
The Goodspeed Publishing Company 1888

Loyal and Disloyal Mass Meetings - page 86

Some time in January, 1861, those in favor of Missouri seceding from the Union with the rest of her sister slave States made preparations for a meeting to be held in Milan, on Monday, February 4, for the purpose of choosing delegates to the State convention, which was to convene at Jefferson City, February 28, by publishing notices in the newspapers, and by posting up handbills throughout the county, advertising the meeting, and inviting all to attend. For a week or so before the time appointed for this meeting, a few of those opposed to its object were engaged in devising a plan for taking possession of it themselves, and turning it from a Secession to a Union meeting. With this object in view the following named persons quietly convened on the Friday night, or Saturday night before, and agreed upon a series of resolutions to be presented to the Monday's meeting, after its conversion from its proposed object to a very opposite one. The individuals meeting on Friday or Saturday night were H. T. McClanahan, 0. P. Phillips, Thomas Lane, S. H. B. Cochrane, James Beatty, James T. Dunlap, Ichabod Comstock, John McCullough, Joel De Witt, Gabriel Jones and P. W. Martin.

On Monday the county court was in session in the court-house, and in the morning the people, both Unionists and Secessionists, assembled in the town, in the court-house, and in the court-house yard. At noon, when the court adjourned, a rush was made for the court-room upstairs in the courthouse, which was quickly filled. Oliver H. Bennett, then the county's representative in the Legislature, who had come home to enthuse the people with secessionism, was elected chairman of the meeting. Speeches were made strongly in favor of Missouri's joining her fortunes with the South by E. S. Strahan, now one of the supreme judges of Oregon, by Dr. E. F. Perkins and by John C. Hutchinson. The burden of their speeches was that now a tyrant, in the person of Abraham Lincoln, had been elected President of the United States, that under him the Southern people would lose all their rights, and that the only safety for Southern institutions lay in the establishment of a Southern Confederacy; the rights guaranteed to them by the old constitution could be preserved in no other way.

After the meeting had been in progress some time, H. T. McClanahan, who was standing in the back part of the crowded court-room, climbed upon a bench, and endeavored to obtain recognition from the chairman, Mr. Bennett. This, however, was no easy task, but he at length succeeded. He said he did not believe that the people of Sullivan County were in favor of the dissolution of the Union, but that on the contrary, he believed that they, with himself, were in favor of sustaining the Government in any attempts it might find necessary to suppress the rebellion. As soon as his position was thus clearly placed before the meeting cries of " Go in, Hedge; I'm with you," came from all parts of the room, and he immediately called for a division of the house. " All those in favor of standing by the Union come to my side of the room; those in favor of secession rally round Strahan." At this signal a grand rush was made toward McClanahan, and a feeble rush toward Strahan; and when the division was complete it was found that about two-thirds of those present were in favor of the Union. The Secessionists, finding themselves in the minority, retired from the courtroom, and the Unionists then organized by electing James T. Dunlap, chairman.

Speeches were then made in favor of sending Union delegates to the State convention by Mr. Dunlap, John McCullough and H. T. McClanahan, and Col. Gabriel Jones, Benjamin Smith, O. P. Phillips, and Philip W. Martin were chosen delegates to the senatorial district convention to be held at Chillicothe, to nominate delegates to the State convention. The delegates to the State convention chosen by the Chillicothe convention were Jacob Smith, of Linn County; A. M. Woolfolk, of Livingston County, and William Jackson, of Putnam County. After the Union meeting had adjourned the Secessionists reassembled, and put in nomination R. F. Canterbury, of Milan, Cummings G. Fields, of Bucklin, Linn County, and Ratcliffe, of Chillicothe, as their delegates to the State convention, and at the election, which occurred almost immediately afterward, Smith, Woolfolk and Jackson carried the county by large majorities; after which there was never any doubt as to where Sullivan County stood in the great contest which finally decided the fate of both slavery and the Union.

Submitted By D. Minard


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