|During this period, aware that
his financial castle was tumbling about his ears, 6.Benjamin Franklin
Massey entered a new
field - the arena of Missouri politics. He ran for and was
elected a Missouri State Senator, serving in the Twelfth General
Assembly, held in 1842. He was then age 31.
a financially bad year for B.F. Massey. Although his
Senatorial post provided income, it was inadequate. For example,
he had rented a slave from an older brother, who was forced to file a
Power of Attorney to collect the wages earned by the slave.
Another example: Massey had to sell two slaves at auction; the Powells
bought the slaves but permitted Massey to keep them in his possession
as a loan.
|This generous act by the Powells
is interesting evidence that the long-time cordial relationship between
them and Massey had not deteriorated.
|The year 1844 was even worse,
financially, than 1843. On the favorable side, Massey's political
career was doing well; he had been re-elected a State Senator and was
serving in the Thirteenth General Assembly. But, back in Sarcoxie,
things were very bad indeed.
|The Circuit Court decided the
lawsuit in favor of the Powells and entered a judgement against Tingle
& Massey. Tingle & Massey lacked the means to pay this
$5,147 Judgement, and the Court ordered the Tingle & Massey land
holdings sold at auction. This was done; the Powells were the
high bidder, and took over Tingle & Massey's 408 acres, including
the Sarcoxie town site. Thus ended the Tingle & Massey joint
venture in real estate and merchandising in total disaster. B.F.
Massey was age 33.
|Massey's political career
progressed well. In 1845 he was elected a member of the Missouri
Constitutional Convention. In 1846 he was elected Chief Clerk of
the Missouri House of Representatives and was re-elected in
1848. Then came a setback.
|In 1849, he ran for a seat in
the Missouri State Senate but met defeat. He then sought the post
of Missouri Secretary of State, then an appointed office, but he lost
|All this time, in fact from
1838, Massey had maintained his Spring River Valley farm, and was
classified as "Farmer" in both the 1840 and 1850 Census enumerations.
|In 1850, still seeking financial
security, he joined the California Gold Rush. This quest was
unsuccessful, and in addition he suffered a disabling attack of
rheumatism and had to be invalided home via the Isthmus of Panama in
|In 1852, he, or perhaps William
Tingle, found the means to pay $1,000 "in full satisfaction" of the
Powell court judgment against them.
|In 1854, Massey ran again for
the Missouri State Senate, and, as in 1849, met defeat. This was
a very low point in Massey's financial life; he was 43 years old, had a
wife and eight children, with only the farm for support. But he
|He ran again for the office of
Missouri Secretary of State and this time was elected to serve the
four-year term, from 1856 to 1860. In 1857, Warwick Hough, his
son-in-law to-be, was appointed his Chief clerk.
|During his first term as
Secretary of State, he wrote many letters to his friend and political
ally, Dr. John F. Snyder, which Dr. Snyder fortunately preserved.
These letters covered the many subjects that concerned these two men:-
day-to-day practical politicking, political advice to Dr. Snyder, the
Missouri railroad situation, Missouri's banking problems, and the
like. And a small amount of personal news.
|Massey was now a seasoned,
experienced, practical, political figure. He was satisfied that
he had attained his political goals. In a 10 Dec.1858 letter to
Dr. Snyder, he wrote:
|"You ask me what I want;
do I want the same office I have, or do I want to succeed Stewart [then
Governor] or Phelps [then Senator]. If my circumstances shell
render it accept any political peace at all, and I expect they will, I
should prefer to keep the place I have. ... If you had the power by a
word, without any act on my part, to give me a seat in Congress, I
should not accept it. I am too domestic to fancy being separated
from my family. ... As far as any personal considerations go, I would
rather be Secretary than governor."
|In 1860, B.F. Massey ran for,
and was elected, Secretary of State for a second four-year term.
During this second term, his letters to Dr. Snyder continue to express
his worry about the State railway subsidies and the proliferation of
State banks draining away great amounts from the State Treasury.
He was also concerned about the Negro problem, arming Missouri, and, of
|At this point in his career,
Massey's financial security seemed assured. He had pursued a
political career for eighteen years, had attained the highest political
post that he aspired to, and had every reason to believe that he could
continue in his post of Secretary of State. He was 49 years old
and the future looked secure and bright. But it was not to be.