National Archives Opens Divided Loyalties Civil War Exhibit December 27

On Tuesday, December 27, 2011, the National Archives at Kansas City will open a new exhibit in conjunction with the Missouri State Archives to commemorate the 150thAnniversary of the Civil War.

Divided Loyalties examines the upheaval and uncertainty that characterized Missouri during the Civil War era. As Missourians divided their loyalties between the Union and the Confederacy, many found themselves facing dire consequences for their decisions. This exhibit focuses on the social conflict that permeated the state for the two decades that followed the Kansas border wars of the mid-1850s. Going beyond the stories of battle and military strategy, original documents demonstrate how even those Missourians who did not serve in the military could be subjected to suspicion, discrimination, and violence.

Divided Loyalties opens with a look at pre-Civil War Missouri and the role that the institution of slavery played in the state’s culture and economy. Highlighting original documents, including the famous court case brought by Dred and Harriet Scott and two 1850s-era sale bills for slaves, this section shows how slaves were treated as property that could be bought, sold, and distributed by the courts. Divided Loyalties also reveals how the issue of slavery split Missouri’s population, resulting in deep-seated tension and opposition in government, business, military, and social life.

Missourians continued to face many challenges after the war as a result of sectional differences.  Individuals who had supported the Confederate cause suffered discrimination, the loss of civil rights, and seizure of their property and goods. The exhibit examines how the court system was used to resolve disputes and settle grievances over crimes committed during the war, including murder, theft, vandalism, and slander. It also features court documents relating to post-war vigilante groups like the, Bald Knobbers and Frank and Jesse James, who resorted to violence and crime when the court system failed.

Divided Loyalties offers visitors the chance to examine letters, court cases, enlistment papers, field reports, maps, and photographs from the Civil War-related holdings of the National Archives at Kansas City, including:

  • A Muster Roll for the Missouri Volunteers at the Saint Louis Arsenal, the first record made of Federal enlistments in Missouri.
  • The Colored Volunteer Enlistment for Harrison Small, a slave who enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1863.
  • A letter giving a first-hand account of Quantrill’s raid on Lawrence.
  • Arrest warrants for William Quantrill and former Missouri Governor Claiborne Jackson.
  • Court cases documenting seizure of property and effects from Confederate sympathizers, including former Missouri Governor Trusten Polk.
  • Indictments against members of the Christian County Bald Knobbers.
  • Indictments against Frank and Jesse James for robbery.

Divided Loyalties: Civil War Documents from the Missouri State Archives is a traveling exhibit developed by the Missouri State Archives. It has been augmented with 40 original documents from the holdings of the National Archives at Kansas City. The exhibit is on display at the National Archives at Kansas City from December 27, 2011 through April 28, 2012. To schedule a group tour, call Mickey Ebert at 816-268-8013 or email mickey.ebert@nara.gov.

The National Archives at Kansas City is home to more than 50,000 cubic feet of historical records dating from the 1820s to the 1990s created or received by nearly 100 Federal agencies. Serving the Central Plains Region, the archives holds records from the states of Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota available for public access. The facility is located at 400 West Pershing Road, Kansas City, MO 64108.  It is open to the public Tuesday-Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. for research, with the exhibits open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For more information, call 816-268-8000 or visit: www.archives.gov/central-plains.

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