The Missouri Historical
Vol X, No. 3 Columbia April, 1916
EARLY OPPOSITION TO THOMAS HART BENTON.
C. H. McCLURE.
In February, 1850, Thomas Hart Benton was defeated
for reelection to the Senate of the United States. The contest in which Benton lost his seat in the Senate has several
characteristics which make it stand out prominently in the
history of the State and of the Nation. The passage of the
Jackson resolutions marks a definite time at which the contest seemed to begin. Two questions which later became of
great significance to the entire nation—the right of Congress
to prohibit slavery in a territory, and disunion—were the
issues. The struggle was marked by one of the most spectacular and vindictive speaking campaigns in our history.
The apparent suddenness, the later significance of the issues
involved, and the spectacular nature of the contest seem to
have satisfied all investigators that the overthrow of Benton
was to be attributed entirely to this contest and the issues
involved in it. Thus Meigs, Rogers, and Roosevelt, the
three biographers of Benton, agree that after his first election
in 1820 he was elected practically without opposition until
his defeat in 1850 j1 while Ray in his "Repeal of the Missouri
Compromise" places the beginning of the contest in 1844,
»Meigs, Life of Benton, p. 407f; Rogers, Life of Benton, p. 36; Roosevelt,
Life of Benton, p. 351.