The Madison County Historical Society will host a program on Emancipation and Slavery in Illinois on Sunday, June 10, at 2 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall of Immanuel United Methodist Church at 800 N. Main St. in Edwardsville.
Many believe that Illinois was a free state with no slavery, but the issue of slavery and emancipation in Illinois is a bit more complicated. Illinois, a Northern state generally assumed to be free of slavery, was in many ways a region of quasi-slavery. Chattel slavery in the territorial years, indentured servitude, slavery exemptions in at least five counties, and gradual emancipation all meant that unfree labor was a constant in Illinois leading up to the Civil War.
Along with this difficult history, in 1865 Illinois became the first state to ratify the 13th Amendment, the amendment abolishing slavery in the United States and emancipating the enslaved. This discussion will give an overview of slavery and unfree labor in Illinois and will focus on the various ways emancipation happened in the state.
Dr. Bryan Jack (shown) is associate professor of historical studies at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He earned his Ph.D. at Saint Louis University, and his MA from the University of Alabama. He is the author of the book, “The Saint Louis African American Community and the Exodusters,” and the editor of the book, “Southern History on Screen.” His articles have appeared in the Griot, and the Councilor, and internationally in US Studies Online, and The Journal of American Studies of Turkey. He is completing an article on memorialization of the slave trade in downtown St. Louis.
MCHS programs are free to the public. Regular hours at the Madison County Archival Library are Wednesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. The Madison County Historical Museum is currently closed for renovations. For additional information, call (618) 656-7569.
Editor’s note: An earlier version contained an incorrect date.