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MISSOURI STATE ARCHIVES
Missouri Constitutions, 1820-1945

Introduction

1820--The first Missouri constitutional convention met at the Mansion House Hotel in St. Louis. Written in only 38 days, the first Missouri Constitution was adopted on July 19, 1820. 1845--As Missouri’s population increased, the state outgrew the constitutional limits on the creation of new counties. A Second constitutional convention assembled in Jefferson City from November 1845 until January 1846. Missouri voters refused to ratify the proposed constitution in August 1846. 1865--From January 6 to April 8, 1865, delegates met at the St. Louis Mercantile Hall to draft a new constitution. The resulting document was known as the “Draconian Constitution” for its loyalty oath conditions. Designed to exclude all but the most resolute Unionist from public life in Missouri following the Civil War, the document was ratified on June 6, 1865. In 1867, the U. S. Supreme Court struck down the oaths of loyalty in Cummings v. Missouri (71 U. S. 277). 1875--Missouri citizens approved a constitutional convention in 1874. Delegates met in Jefferson City from May 5th to August 2nd, 1875. The subsequent Constitution required the legislature to appropriate 25% of the general revenue to support public schools and mandated the establishment of separate schools for children of African descent. Missouri voters ratified the constitution on October 30, 1875. 1922--Delegates assembled for a fifth constitutional convention in Jefferson City from May 15, 1922 to November 6, 1923. Instead of a constitution, 21 amendments were proposed. Because voters refused to approve all of the amendments at the special election of February 26, 1924, none of the amendments were ratified. 1945--The final Missouri constitutional convention convened in Jefferson City on September 21, 1943. The completed document was approved by the delegates on September 28, 1944. Submitted to the voters as a single proposition, the Constitution was ratified by voters on February 27, 1945 and has since been amended numerous times.

The Collection

Adopted and proposed Missouri constitutions comprise the collection. The 1845 (Proposed) constitution survived the 1911 Capitol Fire with fire and water damage. The paper upon which the 1865 and 1875 constitutions were written has darkened with age. The 1922 Constitution was not submitted as a single document.

Rights and Reproductions

Copyright is in the public domain. Preferred citation: [Item description], [date]; Office of the Secretary of State, Record Group 5; Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City. Each constitution has a specific record group number (for example, the 1865 Constitution is in Record Group 5.24). Please see the respective finding aid for each constitution. The National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D. C. holds the original copy of the 1820 Missouri Constitution.

Additional Resources

Additional materials pertaining to specific constitutional conventions and constitutions are noted within each individual finding aid.


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