Images de page

Each and every

the females at the age of eighteen years. child born of indentured parents shall be entered with the clerk of the county in which they reside, by their owners, within six months after the birth of said child."

This clause, it may be noted, was not in accordance with the spirit of the Ordinance of 1787 which plainly declared that "There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in said territory otherwise than in the punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been convicted."

The Illinois Constitution gave the right of suffrage to all white males over twenty-one years old after a residence of six months within the State. The governor's term of office was fixed at four years and provided against his immediate reëlection. The seat of government was fixed at Kaskaskia.

When the subject of the admission of Illinois to Statehood came up for discussion in the National House of Representatives, two questions were asked. Spencer, of New York, wished to know whether it was clear that Illinois had the requisite number of inhabitants, to which Anderson, of Pennsylvania, speaking for the committee to which the matter of admission had been referred, replied that the committee had no information on the subject beyond what was contained in the preamble to the Constitution, which stated that the requisitions of the Act of Congress had been complied with, and the committee considered that evidence sufficient. Mr. Anderson was convinced from what he had himself seen in the newspapers that the population did amount to forty thousand souls.

Tallmadge, of New York, objected to the admission because of the uncertainty regarding the number of people in the Territory, but mainly because of the failure of the Constitution of the new State to prohibit slavery. He called attention to the fact that the Sixth Article of the Constitution in each of its three sections was contrary to the Ordinance of 1787. These three sections recognized slavery as it existed in Illinois.

He referred to the Constitution


of the State of Indiana in which slavery was carefully and scrupulously guarded against. After considerable discussion Illinois was admitted with a Constitution which did not prohibit slavery but put a stop to its future developThis settlement of the slavery question was not satisfactory. It made Illinois a free State but only in a qualified way. Slavery could still continue but it never could become an important institution. That slavery was recognized became evident in the "Black Code," passed by the first General Assembly of the State, on March 30, 1819. Some of the provisions of this code were as follows: Any person who brought slaves into the State with a view of emancipating them was compelled to give bonds of $1,000 that the slaves should not become public charges. To harbor a slave or to hinder the owner in retaking his slave was made a felony punishable by a fine of twofold the value of the slave and a whipping not to exceed thirty stripes. Any negro not having a proper certificate of his freedom was deemed a runaway slave subject to arrest. A slave found ten miles from home was subject to arrest and to be punished by thirty-five stripes. Persons participating in unlawful assemblies of slaves or servants were to be punished by thirty-nine stripes. In all cases where white men were punished by fines, slaves were punished by whippings.

The people of southern and central Illinois did not take kindly to the provision of the Constitution which made their State virtually a free State. The Missouri compromise resulted in the admission of Missouri as a slave State in 1820, and as a result large numbers of slave owners from the South with their property passed through Illinois on their way to their new homes. Southern Illinois was bordered on two sides by slave territory and its people were in sympathy with slavery. It was, therefore, with a feeling of resentment and loss that the inhabitants of southern and central Illinois perceived these customers for new lands passing through Illinois to settle in Missouri. This, they knew, was due to the fact that slavery was permitted across

the river, while the Illinois Constitution prohibited the introduction of slaves, and, therefore, the desire to make Illinois a slave State was increased. The change could be brought about only by amending the newly adopted Constitution. In order to do this it was necessary to get a twothirds vote of the legislature to recommend to the people the calling of a convention.

By the use of unfair means the required two-thirds vote was obtained and then followed a campaign which, for violence and personal abuse, is unequalled in the history of Illinois. This campaign lasted for eighteen months. Personal combats were frequent between members of the opposite parties, and the State seemed on the verge of civil war. Stump speeches and newspapers were made use of on both sides. One of the ablest champions of the antislavery people was the Baptist minister, J. M. Peck, who rode all through the southern part of the State and raised his voice in opposition to the convention. Nor should the zealous and efficient labors of George Flower be forgotten. He had established an English colony at Albion, Edwards County, in 1817, and his promotion of agricultural development and his benevolence brought him great influence, which was eminently serviceable in the defeat of the attempt to introduce slavery into the State.

When the vote was taken in August, 1824, it was found that four thousand nine hundred and fifty ballots were in favor of the convention and six thousand eight hundred and twenty-two against it. Thus it was decided for all time that Illinois should be a free State. The influence of that decision on the fortunes of the Civil War is beyond estimation.

The last slavery decision was made by the Supreme Court of Illinois in December, 1845, to the effect that the descendants of the old French slaves, born since 1787, and before or since the adoption of the Constitution of Illinois, could not be held in slavery.

When the Constitution of 1848 was adopted, the slavery clause was in the language of the Ordinance of 1787.




THERE were many diverse elements in the makeup of the population of the Northwest. Among these, three were especially important. The first of these in point of age, though not of influence, was the French. There were large numbers of these people in the Illinois country and in Detroit and its neighborhood up to 1830. It is difficult, however, to determine the exact extent of French influence, but it was of continually decreasing importance as the French came in contact with the vigorous and pushing pioneers from New England and New York. The French were conservative and could not understand the newcomers, who were so much interested in politics, religion, and education, and above all else, in making money.

In southern Michigan, especially in Detroit and the district centring on it, the French element was divided into classes. At the head of society was that class composed of persons of aristocratic descent and of inherited wealth. These constituted an intelligent and refined element in the society of the territory. A middle class was made up of the French farmers who cultivated their lands in the vicinity of Detroit in the ways of their forefathers and with the same primitive instruments. The lowest social stratum was made up of the Canadian boatmen and hunters, who found their occupation passing from them with the increase in population and the decline of the fur trade.

A second element in the population of the Northwest consisted of the pioneers from New England and New York who were called by their French neighbors by the despised term "Yankee." Large numbers of these came into Ohio, southern and central Illinois and Indiana, and later into southern Michigan. These northern pioneers, especially the early comers, were men of Puritan stock, and kept up the Puritan traditions in politics, religion, and education.

The third important element in the population was made up of emigrants from the South. In many ways they differed from their neighbors who had come from the North. They settled in the southern part of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, and brought with them markedly southern characteristics.

It would be a mistake to suppose that the non-French immigrants were uniformly of English descent, or even that they, or their direct ancestors, all came from the British Isles. An analysis of the racial elements of the pioneers of Ohio, the first part of the Northwest to be settled, will show the erroneousness of the supposition. Among the early settlers we find representatives of nearly all the races of northern Europe. There were English of both the Puritan and the Cavalier types, Irish, Scotch, Scotch-Irish, Swedes, Germans, and Dutch. All or nearly all of these had been born on American soil, but had preserved the national and religious characteristics of their ancestors, and these peculiarities endured for some years because of the isolation of the different settlements and the difficulty of intercommunication. There were distinct groups of settlements in Ohio, each with its own peculiarities.

At the southwest, between Great and Little Miami Rivers, was the Symmes Purchase. This was settled principally from New Jersey.

The Virginia Military District, situated to the east of the Symmes Purchase, had been reserved by Virginia as bounty land for its Revolutionary soldiers, and was settled

« PrécédentContinuer »