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Ashcroft returns Missouri emancipation ordinance after cleaning 


An original copy of the 1865 ordinance abolishing slavery in Missouri was returned to the Department of Natural Resouces (DNR) Thursday after being cleaned and repaired by the state archives.  

Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft presented the ordinance at an event on the porch of the historic Teubner-Husmann House in Hermann alongside Missouri State Parks Director Mike Sutherland. The document, which belongs to the Deutschheim State Historic Site, had been lent to the Missouri State Archives’ conservation lab — a division of Ashcroft’s office — for cleaning ahead of its presentation as part of next year’s bicentennial celebration. 

“We’re thankful to the Department of Natural Resources, State Parks, and the Deutschheim State Historic Site for allowing us to borrow this historic document,” Ashcroft said. “It was an honor for our office to repair and conserve this piece of Missouri history ahead of the state’s upcoming bicentennial.”

The 1865 ordinance ended slavery in Missouri after gradual emancipation following the Civil War. (PROVIDED/SECRETARY OF STATE’S OFFICE)

The ordinance was enacted as part of the state’s second constitution, ratified in 1865. Missouri was not included in the 1862 Emancipation Proclamation due to its status as a border state in the Civil War, and the Constitutional Convention met to address backlash from the state’s gradual emancipation policies. 

The ordinance was introduced and approved on the same day with a vote of 60-4, just three months before what would become the 13th Amendment was introduced in Congress. 

The official version of the document was housed in Missouri’s second Capitol building and was severely damaged in the 1911 fire, according to Ashcroft’s office

The document was sent to the state archives for cleaning in September. Conservators removed dirt and acid buildup from the document and repaired holes and tears, improving its flexibility and resistance to future blemishes.  

The bicentennial of Missouri’s statehood is Aug. 10, 2021.