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The Civil War in Missouri

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Born into Slavery

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Slavery continued to be practiced with greater and greater profit in the decades after Missouri gained statehood. The price for a male slave in the 1820s was $350; by 1860 that figure had risen to $1,600. The slave population in Missouri increased from just over 10,000 in 1829 to almost 115,000 in 1860.

As slave numbers grew, so did the slaveholders' dependence on slave labor—and their fear of a potential revolt. In addition to being an economic and social system, slavery in Missouri was fortified in law. In colonial days, slave codes had prevented African Americans from gathering in large groups and from marrying without their owner's consent. They were not allowed to carry firearms or to learn to read and write, among other restrictions. Based on the color of their skin, men and women, and children too, were presumed to be slaves, even if they had been born free or released from bondage. Slave laws became even more restrictive as Missouri achieved statehood and came within U.S. jurisdiction.

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