An attempt in educating a yankee regarding slavery in the north


To all, I send greetings from Mole Church.

Just last week we entertained a couple from Chicago for the largest part of the weekend. Pam grew up with the woman, in Southern IL. and has known the husband (born and raised in Chicago)for about 25 years. I have known them since just before Mayme’s birth.

It was the husbands first visit to our home; the wife had visted us previously. I believe to say that he was taken aback by the pro South atmosphere of Mole Church would be a gross understatement. Six flags flying over the memorial, a canopy and side curtains made from Confederate flags on the stage upstairs, two walls in the dining room full of SCV, and OCR, awards as well as a framed letter of thanks from the UDC; as well as more than 40 books on the war…….this place is Reb friendly!

It was inevitable that sometime in the near 48 hrs we were together, that damnyankee attitude and arrogance would show its ugly head, and it did.

Of course it started with that ole slavery thang…… so here is but a minute representation of what I sent him yesterday……. with the links for him to check it out himself.

May God always bless our beloved South and her people

T. Warren

We call scarcely realize that our own State once tolerated slavery – that for more than a quarter of a century Illinois was as absolutely a slave State as was Mississippi.

The imaginative and seminal Northwest Ordinance of 1787 established guidelines for the creation of states in the large triangle of land between the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and the Great Lakes and supposedly banned slavery in what became Illinois. However, that provision was evaded by a system of indenture, established during the territorial period and reinforced by the state legislature, permitting Negroes to be registered as servants, often for terms exceeding their lifetimes. Children born to the indentured servants were bound to the mother’s master for terms of 30 years for males and 28 years for females. An attempt to repeal the indenture laws was vetoed in 1817 by the territorial governor, Ninian Edwards. The fact that the first four governors held registered servants is one indication that proslavery feeling itself was strong in Illinois. The actual number of slaves was never large, with only 917 recorded in 1820, 746 in 1830, and 331 in 1840. Between 1000 and 2000, however, were regularly leased from Southern owners to work on the federal salt reservation near Shawneetown under a constitutional provision allowing slaves there until 1825.

The evidence seems to support the theory that these rules were not uniformly enforced. But they were invoked against "troublesome" black residents, or they could be used against whole communities when white citizens found the increase in black population had reached an unacceptable level. Blacks who violated the law faced punishments that included being advertised and sold at public auction (Illinois, 1853). Robert Dale Owen, speaking in Indiana in 1850, asked if any decent person desired "the continuance among us of a race to whom we are not willing to accord the most common protection against outrage and death." The rhetoric hardly is an exaggeration: during the constitutional debate in the state that year, one speaker had frankly acknowledged, "It would be better to kill them off at once, if there is no other way to get rid of them. … We know how the Puritans did with the Indians, who were infinitely more magninimous and less impudent than the colored race." ……The Black Codes dealt with more than just settlement. Oregon forbid blacks to hold real estate, make contracts, or bring lawsuits. Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, and California prohibited them from testifying in cases where a white man was a party. When the Illinois state constitution was adopted in 1818, it limited the vote to "free white men" and excluded blacks from the militia.



[R]ace prejudice seems stronger in those states that have abolished slavery than in those where it still exists, and nowhere is it more intolerant than in those states where slavery was never known." –Alexis De Tocqueville, “Democracy in America”

In some Northern states, after emancipation, blacks were legally allowed to vote, marry whites, file lawsuits, or sit on juries. In most, they were not. But even where the right was extended by law, often the white majority did not allow it to happen. In Massachusetts in 1795, despite the absence of any law prohibiting on black voting, Judge James Winthrop and Thomas Pemberton wrote “that Negroes could neither elect nor be elected to office in that state.”[1] De Tocqueville, in Philadelphia in 1831, asked why, since black men had the right to vote there, none ever dared do so. The answer came back: “The law with us is nothing if it is not supported by public opinion.” When Ohio’s prohibition against blacks testifying in legal cases involving white people was lifted in 1849, observers acknowledged that, at least in the southern part of the state, where most of the blacks lived, social prejudice would keep the ban in practical effect.

Like the black codes of the South and Midwest in the 19th century, enforcement of Northern colonial race laws was selective, and their real value lay in harassment and discouragement of further settlement, and in being a constant reminder to free blacks that their existence was precarious and dependent on white toleration. Across the North, such laws were the sword hung above the heads of a whole black population: Step out of line, make one false move, and you’ll be shipped out, or sold into slavery. And you don’t even have the right to face your (white) accuser in court (as you would in, say, ante-bellum Louisiana). It gets to the gist of what makes slavery itself, however comfortable, always worse than freedom, however miserable. Many Southern slaves, perhaps the mass of them, lived better than most northern industrial laborers, when you quantify their work requirements, nutrition, and life expectancy. .

So the Negro [in the North] is free, but he cannot share the rights, pleasures, labors, griefs, or even the tomb of him whose equal he has been declared; there is nowhere where he can meet him, neither in life nor in death.

In the South, where slavery still exists, less trouble is taken to keep the Negro apart: they sometimes share the labors and the pleasures of the white men; people are prepared to mix with them to some extent; legislation is more harsh against them, but customs are more tolerant and gentle.[3]