The Civil War in Missouri

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Thomas Hart Benton

Oil on canvas, painting by George Caleb Bingham, ca. 1850
MHM Collections

Missouri’s Democratic Senator Thomas Hart Benton found himself cast out of power after promoting a spirit of compromise in a climate where government leaders had become decidedly partisan in their opinions on slavery. By urging compromise, Benton became a target for “Southern Rights” Democrats like David Rice Atchison and Claiborne F. Jackson, who waged a campaign against him in 1851 that ended Benton’s long senatorial career.