Missouri State Archives
Robert Marcellus Stewart, 1857-1860
Robert Marcellus Stewart was born to Charles and Elizabeth Severance Stewart in Truxton, New York, on March 12, 1815. Upon graduation from public schools, Stewart began teaching in Truxton at 17. After studying law, he was admitted to the New York Bar in 1836. He practiced law briefly in New York and then in Louisville, Kentucky, from 1837 to 1839.
Stewart moved to St. Joseph, Missouri, in 1839, when he opened a legal practice. He was elected a delegate to the 1845 Missouri Constitutional Convention and to the Missouri Senate. Upon the outbreak of the Mexican War, Stewart organized a company of soldiers attached to the Oregon Battalion. Captain Stewart was forced to resign his commission for health reasons and returned to St. Joseph.
He was elected to the Missouri Senate in 1846, serving a total of 10 years. After Governor Trusten Polk resigned his office to fill a vacant seat in the U. S. Senate in February 1857, Stewart was elected Missouri's 14th governor in the resulting special gubernatorial election, taking office on October 22, 1857.
A moderate, he opposed both secession and abolition. Governor Stewart vetoed legislation that would have forced free African Americans to either leave Missouri or be sold into slavery. In 1858 when violence erupted on the Missouri-Kansas border, he sent troops to the region; temporarily restoring order.
Upon the expiration of his term as governor, Stewart was elected to the 1860 Missouri State Convention, which decided that Missouri would remain in the Union. Poor health prevented military service during the Civil War. Governor Stewart died in St. Joseph on September 21, 1871, and is buried in the Mt. Mora Cemetery.
Records (1857-1860) of Governor Robert Marcellus Stewart (1815-1871) include appointments, correspondence, petitions, and swamp land records.
Rights and Reproductions
Copyright is in the public domain. Preferred Citation: [Item description], [date]; Robert Marcellus Stewart; Office of Governor, Record Group 3.14; Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City.
How to Use This Collection
The official title lists dates of service from inauguration to end of term. Records refer to the date range of materials included within the collection. All references to places are within the state of Missouri unless indicated, and county is specified when known. The spelling of proper names varies greatly. When correct spelling could not be determined the original spelling was retained. Officeholders are Missouri officials unless noted (U. S. Senator, U. S. Secretary of State, U. S. Attorney General, U. S. Supreme Court, and etcetera). State Representatives are referred to as Representative. U. S. Representatives are noted with the title Congressman. Much of the correspondence is written on note-sized stationary. Scanned images shown are the best available.
The collection finding aid provides information pertaining to additional Stewart material held by the Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City; New York Historical Society Archives, New York City; and the State Historical Society of Missouri, Columbia.