Daniel Dunklin

Daniel Dunklin was born 14 Jan. 1790 in Greenville, S. Carolina.  He moved to Missouri with his widowed mother & settled at Mine-Au-Breton in 1810 on a Spanish land grant he had obtained. He, along with local postmasters reviewed postal routes in the area.  He served with the Missouri Militia during the War of 1812 & later worked at farming & mining in Potosi & he was also a tavern owner.  He served as Sheriff of Washington County, Missouri from 1815 - 1821.   Delegates of Washington County met at Dunklin's Tavern & nominated him to run for representative of the state legislature.  He was elected & served from 1822 - 1823.  He was the Father of Public Schools, , and Lieutenant Governor of Missouri from 1828 to 1832 & Democratic governor of Missouri from 1832 - 1836.  He was U.S. surveyor general of Missouri & Illinois for four years, Dunklin County in Missouri is named after him as is a Jefferson County school district.  In 1840 he sold all of his holdings at Potosi & moved to the Herculaneum area where he died of pneumonia 25 Aug. 1844  & his grave there is a State Historical Site.


The Constitution-Tribune
24 July 1928

Daniel Dunklin was born on the 14th of January, 1790, near Greenville, South Carolina, moving some years later to Kentucky.  His widowed mother left Kentucky in 1810, & settled in Potosi, Missouri.

In the war of 1812 Dunklin served three campaigns under General Dodge in the territories of Missouri & Illinois.  At the close of the war he was appointed sheriff of Washington County.  During this period he was admitted to the bar but practiced very little.  In November, 1815, he married his boyhood sweetheart, bringing her from Kentucky to Potosi, where he erected a tavern.  He was an influential man in his community & a deep reader as evidenced by his wellthumber library.  It was partly through his entreaties that the Potosi Academy was founded, to, which he donated many books.

Dunklinís tavern served as a public gathering place.  It is related that in July, 1822, an assemblage had gathered from Washington county to nominate a representative to the state legislature.  Two candidates were considered, but after a dayís balloting neither was selected.  Someone suggested Dunklin, stating that a man who had served so well in school work would make a good representative.  He was nominated & elected.  In 1828 he was elected lieutenant-governor.  Still ambitious, he made plans to occupy the gubernatorial chair.  Cannily he foresaw the advantage of securing the support of the rural districts over his opponent, who was strongly favored by the city of St. Louis & capitalized the idea by forwarding legislation for the outlying communities.  He was elected in 1832.

The great question before the American people at this time was nullification.  In his campaign speeches Dunklin sided with President Jackson but after his election as governor he became very inconsistent, favoring the individual statesí authority.  However, he concluded that the federal government, had the power to levy import duties, & even an abuse of such power could not be met with nullifying edicts by every state.

Like Jackson & Benton, Governor Dunklin had little or no faith in paper money.  He opposed private banks chartered by the states.  Yet the need of Missouri & especially of the St. Louis mercantile interests for banks & money was pressing.  Governor Dunklin accordingly advocated a state bank founded largely on the state school funds.  With some modifications this proposal was adopted during his successorís term Ė 1837, to the great benefit of Missouriís economic life but with small benefits to Missouriís public  schools.

Up to 1835 no system of free public schools had been established in Missouri, nor do we have evidence of such organization as a result of the act passed in the year.  Governor Dunklin was intensely interested in seeing such a tax-supported system instituted, & it was largely through his efforts that the legislature passed an act in 1833 authorizing the appointment  of a commission to formulate plans.  After tremendous pressure the more important features of the bill reported by the commission were passed in 1835 & it was at this time that President Jackson wrote Dunklin ďThis is your eternal bid for fame.Ē  Though this law did not result in establishing a system of public tax supported schools throughout the state, it created the first state board of education, made provision for common school by local taxation on the basis of property held, whereas the act of 1825 provided for taxation on persons sending pupils, & it was a forward movement toward our present system.

Governor Dunklin was in some way a social reformer.  He recommended a state institution for the deaf & dumb.  He was vitally concerned in good roads.  He urged a reform of the state penal system & especially the abolition of whipping as a punishment. 

Governor Dunklin resigned the executive office three months before his term expired, but soon after received an appointment as surveyor-general at Missouri & Illinois.  In 1843 he became commissioner to adjust & designate the boundary line between Missouri & Arkansas.  He was active in public affairs until his death on July 25, 1844