In 1818, Illinois entered the United States with a Constitution declaring itself a free state, following the guidance of the 1787 Northwest Ordinance, which outlawed slavery north of the Ohio River. But slavery’s roots went back centuries in the region, and its hold on the young state was strong. In the first years of statehood, the Illinois legislature included several proslavery advocates who boldly attempted in 1824 to change the Constitution to allow slavery. Who were these voices advocating for a permanent constitutional change to allow slavery? And who stood up against them, preserving the free state of Illinois we know?
Caroline Kisiel is a public historian and educator who has taught for over 25 years. With a background in immigration law, literature, history, storytelling, and performance, Caroline writes and presents on early Illinois history and is currently researching the role of Albion, Illinois, in the struggle to keep Illinois slavery-free in the early years of statehood. The program is made possible by a grant from Illinois Humanities. Free to attend, but donations are appreciated, and registration is required. To register, click HERE.
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