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Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society

The Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, established in 1908, is the scholarly publication of the Illinois State Historical Society. The peer-reviewed Journal welcomes articles, essays, and documents about history, literature, art technology, law, and other subjects related to Illinois and the Midwest. Submission guidelines can be found here.

The Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society is published quarterly and is available to everyone for purchase, discounts are included for members of the Illinois State Historical Society. Visit our Membership section for membership options and information.

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Volume 108 - Number 3-4 - Fall/Winter 2015

Volume 108 - Number 3-4 - Fall/Winter 2015

Volume 108 - Number 3-4 - Fall/Winter 2015

IN 1963, DURING THE HEIGHT of the Civil War centennial, the Illinois State Historical Society published a special issue of its journal to commemorate and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. The articles in the issue covered a wide range of topics related to African American history in Illinois up to the Civil War era. Although the ISHS had published articles on Illinois African American history through the years, a special issue devoted exclusively to the top was deemed appropriate.
As the sesquicentennial of both the Civil War and the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment draws to a close, it is no less appropriate to devote a special issue of this journal to African American history in Illinois. In hist second inaugural address Lincoln said that all knew that slavery somehow was the cause of the Civil War. To commemorate and remember the war without discussing slavery and the broader questions of African American citizenship and participation in society would be wrong. And so, I am happy to present six outstanding articles covering a variety of topics on Illinois African American history.


In "The Early African American Settlement of Chicago, 1833-1870," Christopher Robert Reed offers an analysis on the establishment of an African American community in Chicago. In a comprehensive review Reed touches on all aspects of the growing community including its social, religious, educational, economic and political spheres and he highlights the lives of some of the individuals and institutions that shaped that community.

In "The 1847 Illinois Constitutional Convention and Persons of Color," Jerome B. Meites reviews how white delegates dealt with African Americans in Illinois while drafting the state's 1848 constitution. Although abolitionists made their presence felt, the ultimate result of the convention with regards to African Americans was the passage of the 1853 Black Law, a discriminatory piece of legislation that prohibited free blacks from immigrating to Illinois. Meites concludes by saying that Illinois, a northern state known as the "Land of Lincoln and Liberty Too," was, in fact, not a bastion of liberty and the 1848 constitution reflected this.

In "Antebellum Struggle for Citizenship," Roger D. Bridges discusses not only the reaction in the African American community to the 1847 convention and the enactment of the 1853 Black Law but also the community's effort at opposing other discriminatory black laws. Illinois African Americans, denied the right to vote and under constant threat under the black laws and the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act, actively worked for their rights before the Civil War. Their struggle for citizenship took several forms including petitioning the general assembly, conducting mass meetings, investigation colonization plans and participating in nation and state colored conventions.

In "We Are Here Assembled: Illinois Colored Conventions, 1853-1873," Victoria L. Harrison goes into greater depth on Illinois colored conventions. Harrison reviews the changing nature of five state conventions held between 1853 abd 1873 and ties them in to the national convention movement and to both national and state events. In the end, however, she questions how effective the conventions were as agents for change.

In "I Earn By My Own Labor Day To Day":African American Women's Activism in the Wartime Midwest, Jennifer discusses the activism of African American women in Illinois and the Midwest by highlighting their efforts during the Civil War, Although they were constrained at the time by both their race and their sex, Harbour concludes, "black women had almost no political or socioeconomic power, so the instead used what they did have access to-their activist culture-in order to conduct emancipation".

In "To Protect the Rights of the White Race": Illinois Republican Racial Politics in the 1860 Campaign and the Twenty Second General Assembly, Sally Heinzel argues that opposition to slavery or its expansion was different than supporting full equality. She states that the majority of Illinois Republicans on the eve of the Civil War preferred not to alter the status of African Americans in Illinois.

Book Reviews

Northern Men with Southern Loyalties: The Democratic Party and the Sectional Crisis. By Michael Todd Landis
Reviewed by: Stephen L. Hansen

Collaborators for Emancipation: Abraham Lincoln and Owen Lovejoy. By William F. Moore and Jane Ann Moore
Reviewed by: Robert McColley

Lincoln & Liberty: Wisdom for the Ages. Ed. by Lucas E. Morel
Reviewed by: Patricia Ann Owens

Lincoln and the War's End. By John C. Baugh
Reviewed by: Wallace Dean Draper

Lincoln's Assassination. By Edward Steers, Jr.
Reviewed by: Sean A. Scott

The True Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography. By Betty Boles Edison
Reviewed by: Matthew Toland

The Devils to Pay. John Buford at Gettysburg. A History and Walking Tour. By Eric J. Wittenberg
Reviewed by: Samuel Blackwell

Stonewall's Prussian Mapmaker: The Journals of Captain Oscar Hinrichs. Ed. by Richard Brady Williams
Reviewed by: Greg Bailey

Spring 1865: The Closing Campaigns of the Civil War. By Perry D. Jamieson
Reviewed by: Larry T. Balsamo

After Appomattoc: Military Occupation and the Ends of War. By Gregory P Downs
Reviewed by: Brent M.S. Campney

Music Along the Rapidan: Civil War Soldier, Music, and Community during Winter Quarters, Virginia. By James A. Davis
Reviewed by: Catherine Bateson

Unione and States' Rights: A History and Interpretation of Interposition, Nullification, and Secession 150 Years After Sumter. Ed. by Neil H. Cogan
Reviewed by: John G. Grove
Previous Issue Volume 108 - Number 2 - Summer 2015
Next Issue Volume 109 - Number 1 - Spring 2016
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