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The Negro in IllinoisThe WPA Papers$
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Brian Dolinar

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037696

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037696.001.0001

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(p.6) 2. Slavery
The Negro in Illinois

Arna Bontemps

University of Illinois Press

This chapter discusses slavery in Illinois before and after emancipation. It begins with a brief history of slavery in Illinois, dating back to 1734 when the laws of Louis XIV were enacted, regulating the traffic in slaves in the province of Louisiana—which included Illinois. Slavery was legalized under English rule when General Gage took possession of the territory and allowed the French inhabitants the privilege of becoming English subjects. When George Rogers Clark came into the Northwest, the Virginia House of Burgesses charted the whole territory and enacted a law in October 1778, making it the county of Illinois. The chapter also looks at a man who played a major role in consolidating the opposition to slavery and to lead this opposition effectively: James Lemen. Finally, it considers the controversial Black Laws, or Black Codes, which treated the territory's Negroes and mulattoes as taxable property and were denied citizenship, and the battle between those who opposed and were in favor of making Illinois a slave state.

Keywords:   slavery, Illinois, slaves, James Lemen, Black Laws, Negroes, mulattoes, citizenship

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