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NEWS OF 150 YEARS AGO

January-February 1862

From The Missouri Democrat, Thursday, January 9, 1862.

EXCITEMENT ON ’CHANGE.

DISRUPTION OF THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE.

The Secessionists Override the Union Men.

The Union Men Withdraw and Organize a New Board of Trade.

The Hall of the Chamber of Commerce was on yesterday afternoon the scene of much excitement. The occasion was the annual election of officers for the Chamber to serve during the present year. The proceedings were briefly as follows:

The Chamber was called to order by the President, Mr. D. A. January, minutes read, and report of the Secretary, Mr. Baker, read and approved.

Mr. January then proceeded in a few well chosen remarks to announce his retirement, and to express his thankfulness to the Chamber, &c., &c., extending the felicities usual on such occasions.

At the conclusion of his remarks, Major Edwards, of the firm of W. L. Ewing & Co., presented a long list of new members who applied for admission into the Chamber.

Mr. Ranney objected, and moved that no new members should be admitted to the Chamber until after the election.

This motion was insisted upon amid much confusion, but the President declined to put it.

Mr. Pierce, of the firm of Hening & Woodruff, said the motion was out of order, and that no new rule could be adopted except in accordance with No. 15, of the Rules and Regulations governing the Chamber. He called for the reading of the rules, which was read as follows:

“Any motion for adding to, altering or repealing any of these rules, shall be made at a meeting previous to being acted upon; and it, at a succeeding regular meeting, such addition, alteration or repeal be approved of by two-thirds of the members present, the same shall be carried and duly entered on the journal; Provided, however, that no such motion shall be finally put, unless twenty-five members be present.”

Mr. Ranney and others still urged the question upon his motion, amidst a perfect chaos of speeches, motions to adjourn, calls to order, promiscuous votings, cheerings and stampings.

Finally it was moved and carried that all those who were not members of the Chamber of Commerce should retire from the meeting. This included large numbers who were only members of the Corn Exchange, and as such were not entitled to vote. Those excluded only fell back a few paces, and as the Chamber again became noisy and confused in wrangling over the different motions that were proposed, they crowded up again to the scene of the strife as compactly as before. Some one then called for the reading of the names of the new members who were proposed.

Mr. January, for the sake of harmony, hoped that Major Edwards would withdraw the list of names, stating that he would vote for every one of them, but he saw that if it was insisted that they should be elected, the Chamber would be disrupted.

Major Edwards firmly refused to withdraw the names.

The names were then read as follows:

James H. Lucas, H. C. Cravelling,
Goodwin & Anderson, Hall, Woodward & Co.,
J. B. Sickles & Co., Charles Holmes,
Morris Culilus, Jackson, Perry & Co.,
James Archer, N. Stevens,
L. Ashbrook & Co., H. N. Kendall & Co.,
W. & R. Henrichschofen, McArthur & Fisher,
S. Jacoby, Meyer & Melster,
S. & J. Hamil, A. K. Northrup,
J. G. Greer & Co., Northern Line Packet Co.,
Dunham & Gregg, James Wilson,
Bemis & Brown, John E. Yore,
S. M. Edgall & Co., Lemcke & Bro.,
Lockwood & Wider, Hammerstein & Shield,
State Savings Assoc’n., G. B. Sweet & Bro.,
Robert Stevens & Co., C. B. Fick,
John Anick, Christopher & Richards,
Henry Martin, F. B. Chamberlain,
F. R. Alexander, Sam. McCartney & Co.,
Jacob Merritt & Co., St. Louis Building & Savings Association,
R. E. Goodall & Co., James Ham,
Eickerman & Co., W. C. Wilson,
John H. Bowen, Sam. Holmes,
A. R. Bowman, Chas. Whitmore,
John D. Perry, Block & Evers,
Jacob Carmann, H. Guildehaus & Co.,
Alkire & Bro., Harlow & Wall,
Ills. River Packet Co., L. W. Patchin & amp;Co.,
W. H & W. Smith & Co., Yeager & Eggers,
A. Vansyckel, Pike & Kellogg,
W. Hake & Bro., Cooley & Tower,
J. S. Boyden, Bauer & Bohl,
Samuel U. Davis & Co., J. F. Reevey, agent T. H. R. R.,
Henry Whitmore, Triplett, Brown & Co.,
H. M. Woodward, W. R. Green & Co.
Samuel Feahy,  
Mayer & Braun,  


Great excitement and confusion again ensued, when Capt. John J. Roe made a motion that the meeting should adjourn for two weeks, in which time he thought the excitement would die away and fair election could be held. Capt. Roe’s motion was put and vehemently voted down.

Another motion was made and carried, that all who were not members should be excluded from the hall. All went out, and the members of the Chamber of Commerce were admitted by the Assistant Secretary, one by one. The meeting was again called to order.

Mr. Ranney and his friends again renewed his clearly irregular and unwarranted motion that n new members should be chosen until after the election.

A motion to adjourn sine die was put, and a division called for which resulted in its defeat.

Mr. Betts, of the firm of Betts, Mellon & Wyman, stated that the list of new members was put forward with an improper motive, and that if they were to be balloted for, he would blackball every one of them. [This was vehemently cheered by Mr. Ranney and his friends.]

Finally the election was ordered, and before a score of balls had been put in the box it was announced by the President that the whole list had been rejected; as, under the rule, five black balls defeated any candidate for membership, and more than five black balls had been cast.

At this there was some little cheering, when Major Francis W. Crane proposed that all the Union men of the Chamber should withdraw, and not vote at the pending election of officers.

Tellers were selected, and the polls opened, but the Union members did not participate in the vote. Large numbers of them retired from the hall, and called an impromptu meeting in the office of the Secretary of the Chamber, where the following proceedings were had:

Stephen M. Edgell was called to the chair as President of the meeting, and Clinton B. Fisk was chosen Secretary.

The President was instructed to appoint a Committee of five persons, whse duty it should be to report at a subsequent meeting a plan of "THE UNION MERCHANT’S EXCHANGE OF ST. LOUIS." Said committee were instructed to make inquiry for suitable rooms, for the accommodation of the organization, and report location and terms of lease.

The names of the Committee will be announced by the President in the city papers of Friday morning, January 10th. The meeting adjourned to meet at the call of the President and Committee.

                                                         S. M. EDGELL, President.

                                                         CLINTON B. FISK, Secretary.

The balloting began in the Hall, Mr. Albert Pierce being nominated for the Presidency.

Mr. Whittaker withdrew his name as a candidate for the Presidency, and Mr. Edgar Ames as a candidate for the Vice Presidency.

Before closing of the polls Mr. Pierce appeared and withdrew his name from the ticket. The vote was small and soon counted with the following result:

                                                         Votes [The tallies were illegible]

PRESIDENT
Albert Pierce [The Missouri REPUBLICAN reported the name as Pearce]

VICE PRESIDENT
William Matthews
Edgar Ames

SECRETARY
E. H. Davis

COMMITTEE OF APPEALS
Thomas H. Larkin
N. Shaeffer
Theodore Betts
John Tolle
Hugh McKitrick
John F. Baker
J. Jackson
W. A. Moffett
Willis Powell
T. Ferguson
J. W. Borth
Saml. Johnson

FLOUR INSPECTORS
Wm. Stobie
J. L. Benson
Joseph Powell

The result was announced, and the crowd dispersed.

The above is as fair and correct an abstract of the proceedings as we believe could be given. The most circumstantial report would fail to convey half the excitement, bad blood and confusion of the meeting. If out of it all, anything creditable can be extracted, it is the fact that the ill temper so prevalent did not in any one case lead to personal violence.

The explanation of the whole affair is simply that it was a struggle between the Union and Secession members of the Chamber. How the contest arose, it matters not. The issue was joined upon Mr. W. B. Baker, the old Secretary for years, and always an unconditional, outspoken Union man, and Mr. Robert H. Davis, a member of the Chamber of long standing and an open and avowed Secessionist. While it is true that some of the secessionists were opposed to Mr. Baker wholly on personal grounds, it is equally certain that a majority of them opposed him on account of his Union sentiments, and so, having made up the issue, the Union men, almost to a man, though some of them were not his personal friends, stood up for Mr. Baker.

Mr. Baker’s friends finding that under a rule of the Chamber, no one could vote but those belonging to the Chamber, or who were, as it is termed, “paying members,” thereby excluding all the members of the Corn Exchange, which is largely Union, exerted themselves to procure new Union members, hoping to overthrow the secession majority in the Upper Chamber, and at the same time contributing by means of the admittance of $10 [?-barely legible] from each new member, timely assistance to the financial department of the Chamber.

The respectability of the list which they presented above, we scarcely think will be questioned in any quarter. The right of these persons to become members, is unquestionable under the 20th [?-barely legible] rule of the Chamber, which reads as follows:

“Any person desiring to become a member of the Chamber shall signify his wish through one of the members, or by written application to the Secretary, which application shall be laid before the Chamber at a stated meeting, when the candidate shall be balloted for, and if five or more negatives appear against him he cannot be admitted a member, nor be again proposed, until after the expiration of one year from the time of such application.”

The propriety of presenting their names on the eve of an election by Major Edwards is also unquestionable. It is sanctioned by the custom of the Chamber for a number of years. At every election, for some years past, numbers of new members have been elected, merchants taking the opportunity of coming forward for the first time and attaching themselves to the Chamber, and others renewing their membership.

If, then, it was clearly according to the rule and to usage to present these names as they were presented, the secessionists were clearly in the wrong in their opposition.

They had the same opportunity of mustering their friends to the support of Mr. Davis, and why did they not do it, instead of supporting the unscrupulous motion of Mr. Ranney to override an established rule of the Chamber, and afterwards carrying their point by black-balling a long list of names of the highest mercantile standing and responsibility? Or, if they had been disposed to act fairly in the matter, why did they not support the motion of the old and honored member, Capt. Roe, to adjourn for two weeks, in which time they might be able to meet in a different spirit, and with a disposition to make some compromise?

All these suggestions however were unheeded. They had the temporary preponderance, and they used their advantage unscrupulously. It was hardly to be expected that the Union men, under the circumstances, could content to be overslaughed and brow beaten in this manner. We believe they did perfectly right in refusing to vote, and in taking the preliminary steps to the organization of a new Chamber of Commerce.

The secessionists, though triumphant, wore their garlands with an ill affected air of gratification and ease. It may possibly have occurred to some of them that the withdrawal of so many old and respectable merchants was a very exhausting drain upon the vitality of the Chamber. It may also have struck some of them, that an independent and exclusive organization of persons of known hostility to the Government would not prove exactly a safe thing at this time in this city. With the soberness of this morning, proceeding from a night of cool reflection, we think many of these gentlemen will regret the part they have played, and will listen to the counsels of reason and moderation.

The ticket elected is a nullity. Mr. Pierce was nominated without his consent, and before the polls were closed, publicly and emphatically withdrew his name. Mr. Ames also positively declined. The only thing left, as it seems to us, is the total repudiation of the affair of yesterday, and the election of a new and thoroughly Union ticket. Otherwise we can see nothing but two distinct organizations, and consequences of the most disagreeable and destructive character to our mercantile community.

NOTE: The microfilm copy of this article was very poor. Some names especially may have been transcribed incorrectly.

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