The Civil War in Missouri

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The Artifact Gallery was made possible by a generous gift from the William T. Kemper Foundation – Commerce Bank, Trustee.

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Pin Worn by Wide Awakes

MHM Collections

In anticipation of the 1860 elections, a grassroots movement of youths organized clubs across the country to show their support for Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party. In St. Louis, Missouri, membership was composed primarily of progressive German immigrants, who formed a nucleus of Union support in the city. The Wide Awakes formed under the guidance of Frank Blair Jr., who organized them to maintain peace at Republican meetings and rallies during campaigns. Three hundred of them traveled with the congressman to provide protection at a speech he was giving in Ironton. The Wide Awakes assumed a quasi-military identity by wearing uniforms and marching in the streets as a sign of solidarity. For those in the city who sided with Republicans they found the presence of the Wide Awakes reassuring, but supporters of secession countered the clubs by forming their own paramilitary group, calling themselves the Missouri Minute Men.