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MEDIA ADVISORY: Mizzou hosts ‘A Fire Bell in the Past,’ the first international conference highlighting the Missouri Crisis of 1818-1821

February 14th, 2019

Story Contact: Eric Stann, 573-882-3346,

WHAT: The Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy will host “A Fire Bell in the Past,” the first international conference to focus on the Missouri Crisis of 1818-1821. In 1820, the Missouri Compromise was passed by the U.S. Congress admitting Missouri as a slave state and Maine as a free state. Missouri’s application for statehood sparked a nearly three-year national crisis over the question of slavery versus freedom. Leading up to Missouri’s upcoming Bicentennial, the conference will highlight an important moment in world history in which Missouri played a major part. At “A Fire Bell in the Past,” international, national, state and local scholars will share their various perspectives on this period of American history in Missouri between 1818 and 1821.


The following individuals will speak on the panel for ‘The Origins of the Missouri Crisis:’

  • Bobby Lee, Harvard University, author of “The Boon’s Lick Land Rush and the Coming of the Missouri Crisis”
  • Diane Mutti-Burke, UMKC, author of “Jefferson’s Fire-Bell: Slavery in the American Borderlands”
  • James Gigantino, University of Arkansas, author of “The First Compromise: Slavery and the Arkansas Territory, 1819”

The following individuals will speak on the panel for ‘The Missouri Crisis in a Wider World:’

  • Peter Kastor, Washington University, author of “The Multinational History of Missouri Statehood and the Re-imagining of North American Polities”
  • Tangi Villerbu, University of La Rochelle, author of “Ste Genevieve in 1820: An Atlantic History”
  • Martin Öhman, University of Gothenburg, author of “An Era of a Systematic Contest: Friends of Industry, International Competition, and the Missouri Question”

WHEN: February 15-16, 2019

  • 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 15: Panel on The Origins of the Missouri Crisis
  • 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 15: Panel on The Missouri Crisis in a Wider World

WHERE: Palmer Room, Reynolds Journalism Institute (First Floor), MU Campus

NOTES: This event is free and open to the public. Any media wishing to attend are invited to contact Eric Stann of the MU News Bureau at or 573-882-3346. There will be media availability with several of the organizers from the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy.

For more information on the event, please see A Fire Bell in the Past. A complete list of speakers and the topics they will address can be viewed here.