The Civil War in Missouri

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Test Oath Registration Book for Platte Township, Clay County, Missouri

1866-1868
MHM Archives

Missouri’s Unionist provisional government established a test oath for voter eligibility at the state convention in October 1861. Anyone who failed to pledge allegiance to the United States and Missouri and failed to swear not to take up arms against either, was disqualified from voting. The test oath, or “ironclad oath,” restriction resulted in 52,000 fewer voters in Missouri at the ballot box in 1864 than in 1860. By disenfranchising Southern sympathizers, it ensured that Republicans would remain in power.