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Historically Yours: Missouri senators expelled from Congress

Historically Yours: Missouri senators expelled from Congress

January 8th, 2019 by Elizabeth Davis in Local News

According to the United States Constitution, "Article I, Section 5.2. Each House may determine the Rules of its proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member."

On Jan. 10, 1862, the Senate did just that to Missouri Senators Trusten Polk and Waldo P. Johnson for supporting the Confederate rebellion.

Trusten W. Polk was born in Bridgeville, Delaware, on May 29, 1811. By the time he was an adult, he was living in Missouri. In 1856, he ran for governor and won. He took office Jan. 5, 1857, but resigned less than two months later to take a seat in the US Senate.

Waldo P. Johnson was born on September 16, 1817, at Bridgeport, Virginia, (which is now West Virginia). He graduated from Rector College in 1839, was admitted to the bar, and began practicing law in Harrison County, Virginia, in 1841. Johnson moved to Osceola, Missouri, in 1842 where he continued his law practice. He served in the US army during the Mexican-American War. His political career began moving up after the war. In 1847, Johnson was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives. He served as the circuit attorney in 1848. Three years later he became a judge of the 7th judicial circuit. In 1852, he resigned and returned to the practice of law.

As threat of war loomed nearer, Johnson joined the peace convention which went to Washington, D.C., in 1861, in a last-ditch effort to avoid war. Neither side would give.

Like other members of Congress, Polk and Johnson left their seats in support of the Confederacy. After 46 days, the Senate voted to expel them. Missouri's Lieutenant Governor Willard P. Hall appointed Robert Wilson and John B. Henderson to replace them. Wilson and Henderson took their seats a week later.

Polk served as a Confederate colonel in the Missouri State Guard. He survived the war and died in St. Louis on April 16, 1876.

Johnson was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Confederate army and was later appointed to fill a vacancy in the Confederate senate. After the war, he lived in Hamilton, Ontario, from August 1865 to April 1866. In 1875, he was president of the Missouri State Constitutional Convention. Johnson died Aug. 14, 1884, in Osceola.

Elizabeth Davis was born and raised in Cooper County and has written Historically Yours for the Boonville Daily News for more than 10 years. In celebration of Missouri's Bicentennial, she has syndicated her column statewide and encourages readers all over the Show-Me State to submit topic suggestions for future columns to HistoricallyYours.davis@gmail.com

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