The Artifact Gallery was made possible by a generous gift from the William T. Kemper Foundation – Commerce Bank, Trustee.
As war loomed, Colonel Frank Blair Jr. became the center of the emerging Republican Party in Missouri. He was not opposed to slavery where it existed, but he saw its expansion as a hindrance to economic growth. During the election of 1860, he organized the St. Louis Wide Awakes, a paramilitary group dedicated to the ideals of the Republican Party and its candidate, Abraham Lincoln. Wide Awakes often served as protection for Blair and other Republican speakers at rallies during the turbulent campaign. Following Lincoln’s election and the subsequent secession of the Southern states, Blair took on the task of assembling pro-Union organizations. He created the St. Louis Committee of Safety, which monitored secessionist activities in the city, and organized militia units called Home Guards that recruited heavily from the German community.