An Influx of ImmigrantsGo Back
In the mid-1800s, Missouri experienced multiple waves of immigration. As these new inhabitants became more numerous, they shifted Missouri's previous balance of power between pro- and anti-slavery populations. Immigrants came from all over Europe, but the German population alone accounted for almost one-third of St. Louis's numbers. The failure of the 1848 Revolution brought many German liberals to Missouri. Their anti-slavery views helped the fledgling Republican Party in St. Louis gain a strong foothold.
In addition, new arrivals created a significant labor force that decreased the need for slave labor in the city. Irish immigrants, second in number only to the Germans, fled their native land in the late 1840s, motivated by the devastating potato famine of 1845–1846 and the collapse of the Young Ireland Rebellion of 1848. They tended to view slaves as rivals for the employment they anxiously sought.
However, opposition to slavery did not translate into a belief in African American rights and citizenship; many people favored some program of colonization out of the country for freed slaves.