Kinder Institute: Slavery and Politics at the University of Missouri

University of Missouri - Jesse Hall

Kinder Institute: “‘Everyone…Denounces his Course’: Slavery and Politics at the University of Missouri, 1839-1856”


The Kinder Institute at the University of Missouri, a JMC partner program, will be hosting a lecture from JMC fellow Zachary Dowdle on the University of Missouri’s historical relationship with slavery. Dowdle will explore the university’s connections, and resistance, to the slave economy and slave politics in the decades after its founding.

“The University of Missouri, being a public institution in a slave state, necessarily had direct and indirect ties to the slave economy from which many of the wealthiest people earned their wealth. Despite these indelible financial connections, the university as conceived and initially operated did not work to support the institution intellectually or politically. Only after proslavery legislators took control of the state government and installed James Shannon as the second president of the university did the public function of the school shift. As Shannon became increasingly radical, the citizens of the state rejected his extreme proslavery project, eventually forcing him to relinquish control of the university.”

Friday, February 21, 2020 • 3:30 PM
Swallow Hall, Room 101 • University of Missouri

Free and open to the public

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Zachary Dowdle is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Missouri’s Kinder Institute. His dissertation, completed with Kinder Institute Associate Director Jeff Pasley, looked at shifting conceptions of race and gender in the political culture of nineteenth-century Missouri and the United States through an examination of the career of James Sidney Rollins, a slave owner who was a leading Whig politician and pro-Unionist. Rollins served as a representative at both the state and national levels, working to establish the University of Missouri in the 1830s and providing a crucial swing vote in Congress that approved the Thirteenth Amendment. Dowdle has presented his work at conferences in Columbia, New Orleans, and San Diego. He has served as a Graduate Fellow for the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy as well as the Goodrich Fellow at the State Historical Society of Missouri.

Dowdle is a JMC fellow.

Learn more about Zachary Dowdle >>



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