Attend An Event

Illinois Antislavery and the Struggle for Freedom

A Road Scholar Program by Jeanne Schultz Angel

Illinoisans played prominent roles in antislavery movements preceding the Civil War, but their reasons for doing so varied widely. Understanding the wide range of motivations that might lie behind any given individual’s opposition to slavery – commitment to human rights, belief in racial equality, economic considerations, and religious convictions, among others – is important to understanding the escalation to war.

Angel will explore the role that the Underground Railroad played in the lives of Freedom Seekers. She will examine the criteria that historians use to separate fact from fiction and determine which purported Underground Railroad sites are verifiable. She will demonstrate that the range of responses to slavery on the part of Illinoisans was more complex than the state’s designation as the “Land of Lincoln” might suggest and that some of the underlying issues still manifest themselves in one form or another today. Her presentation will include information about significant slavery- and antislavery-related sites in Illinois, including the Crenshaw House in Gallatin County, the Dr. Richard Eells House in Quincy, and the Sheldon Peck Homestead in Lombard. It will also examine the legacy of sundown towns and the impact of human trafficking in present-day Illinois.

This event is Free and Open to the public. For more information, please contact Laurel Schilling at schillingl@bellwoodlibrary.org.