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Full text of "Black code of Illinois"

p2679773| 
|Eo78b 

Zebina Eastman. "Black Code of Illinois 

[partial text only; author died 
while writing it] (looJ) 



ILLINOIS HISTORICAL SURVEY 



UNIVERSITY Oi- 
^'W'? LIBRARY 



// 



4 &UL*4 . 

LIBRARY 

OF THE 

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS 

BLACK CODE OF ILLINOIS. 



h 

AT the portal of the State of Illinois, as if engraved on a 
column of brass, stands this inscription, from the Ordinance 
for its Government: 

" There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the 
said Territory, otherwise than in punishment of crime whereof the 
party shall have been duly convicted." 

Why there should have been any occasion for this 
restriction is one of the most marvelous eccentricities of 
modern Christian civilization. Had the inscription over 
the gateway been " Murder shall not enter here," it would 
not have been more strange. There is a history to this 
transaction which will invite the attention of us all, but 
which can not be comprised in one chapter, and it serves 
our purpose to introduce it simply as the first great fact, . 
which must be before our sight, as the monumental tablet 
from which we take our departure. 

The interest in this great fact will be intensified when we 
trace up future history, and find that the consecration of the 
Northwest Territory, of which Illinois is a part, to freedom 
forever, by the patriots founding this Nation, became the 
pivotal Act by which slavery was not only excluded from 
this section, but through which the Nation itself was finally 
delivered from that curse; for it was on this consecrated 
soil that the moral battle was fought, and that preceded 
the war of emancipation. Here, in this State, was the first 
contest waged against slavery, which became a conquest. 



1 8 THE BLACK CODE OF ILLINOIS. 

This conquest was the defeat, by the votes of the people of 
Illinois in 1823-4, of the attempt to legalize slavery in the 
State in violation of the Ordinance, in nullifying the Call 
for a Convention to alter the constitution for that purpose. 
Here a Lovejoy gave his blood in martyrdom, and in the 
sphere of its Territory did a Giddings, Chase, Samuel 
Lewis, a second Lovejoy, a Codding, a Collins, and an 
"Uncle Tom's Cabin," work out their mission to this end. 
In this State were trained for their great work, a Grant and 
a Washburne, and for the completion of it all was raised 
up ABRAHAM LINCOLN, to become the emancipator of the 
four million slaves that, by the powers of evil, had been 
nursed in the bosom of this Republic. Had there been no 
Northwest in this moral sense, and no Northwestern Ordi- 
nance for its Government, how vastly different would have 
been the fate of this Nation, with its fearful slide into apos- 
tasy, in its moral, political, and governmental condition! 
This Ordinance bore date July 1*3, 1787.* 

The enabling Act of Congress, by which the people of 
the State might vote to put off their minority, and enter 
into the indissoluble bonds of the National Union, required 
strict conformity to this condition of perpetual freedom. 

CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS. 

The Constitution of the State, made in 1818, makes this 
harmonious declaration : " Neither slavery nor involuntary 
servitude shall hereafter be introduced into this State other- 
wise than for the punishment of crimes where the party 
shall have been duly convicted," indorsing and using the 
words of the Ordinance. 

One would think the Temple of Liberty sufficiently 
guarded, bulwarked by these two firm buttresses, on which 
stand the pillars at its portal. But there is something more 
in this State Constitution, with only a break of a semicolon- 

* Virginia made her cession March i, 1784. 



THE BLACK CODE OF ILLINOIS. 19 

It is this: "Nor shall any male person arrived at the age of 
21 years, nor any female person arrived at the age of 18 
years, be held to serve any person as a servant under any 
indenture hereafter made, unless such person shall enter 
into such indenture while in a state of perfect freedom, and 
on a condition of a bona-fide consideration received or to 
be received for their services. Nor shall any indenture of 
any negro or mulatto hereafter made and executed out of 
this State, or if made in this State, whose term of service 
exceeds one year, be of the least validity, except those 
given in cases of apprenticeship." 

There seems to be a strange muddle of conditions in this 
language. Involuntary servitude is prohibited, yet there 
are certain conditions that remind us that permission is 
granted under prohibition. Under the Constitution, no 
person shall hereafter be bound as a servant unless he shall 
enter into a contract with. perfect freedom; is there here a 
constitutional inference that under the old law there was 
constraint, and they were forced to be servants as they 
had been forced to be slaves? Again, there shall be no 
validity to a contract with a negro for more than one year's 
service, except in case of apprenticeship. What else could 
apprenticeship mean to a negro but that same condition he 
was in before regulated by this Constitution ? 

The Constitutional provisions are continued in other sec- 
tions: "No person bound to labor in any other state shall 
be hired to labor in this State, except within the tract 
reserved for the salt-works near Shawneetown, nor even in 
that place for a longer period than one year at any one 
time, nor shall it be allowed there after the year 1825. 
Any violation of this article shall effect the emancipation 
of such person from his obligation to service." Permis- 
sion again under prohibition. There is something about 
this salt-work business worthy of attention. It was one 
of the rat-holes through which slavery crept into the Terri- 



20 THE BLACK CODE OF ILLINOIS. 

tory. Saline springs or bogs were discovered which gave 
to the early settlers the much-needed article of salt, if prop- 
erly improved. To bring over a slave from Kentucky to 
make salt enough to salt his porridge served the legal pur- 
pose of his introduction, and many a farm was fenced and 
worked in the southern portion of the State by slaves work- 
ing in the salt-works; and that process of saving slavery 
with salt continued till 1825."" 

Another section provides as follows: "Each and every 
person who has been bound to service by contract or in- 
denture in virtue of the laws of Illinois Territory heretofore 
existing, and in conformity to the provisions of the same, 
without fraud or collusion, shall be held to a specific per- 
formance of their contracts or indenture: and such negroes 
or mulattoes as have been registered in conformity with 
the aforesaid laws shall serve out the time appointed by 
said laws; provided, however, that the children hereafter 
born of such persons, negroes or mulattoes, shall become 

* A saline, or water strong enough to make salt, was found in a district of 
country about ten or twelve miles northwest of Shawneetown, on the Ohio 
River. The salines were reserved from sale by the United States. The 
General Government leased these salines to individuals, and afterward to the 
State of Illinois, allowing slaves to be brought into the Territory for the pur- 
pose of working them. Under the Territorial law, hundreds and thousands 
of slaves were introduced into the southern part of the Territory, chiefly from 
the states of Kentucky and Tennessee. 

For all practical purposes, this part of the Territory was as much a slave- 
state as any of the states south of the Ohio River. To roll a barrel of salt 
once a year, or put salt into a salt-cellar, was sufficient excuse for any man to 
hire a slave, and raise a field of corn. Slaves were not only worked at the 
saline, they were waiters in taverns, draymen, and used in all manner of work 
on the north side of the Ohio River. As villages and settlements extended 
farther, the disease was carried with them. A black man or a black woman 
was found in many families, in defiance of law, up to the confines of our Set- 
tlement, sixty miles north, and in one instance in it. In some, but not many, 
cases, they were held defiantly; in others, evasively. English Settlement in 
Jtdwards County. By Geo. Flower. Chicago Historical Society's Collection. 
Vol. I. Chicago, 1882. 



THE BLACK CODE OF ILLINOIS. 21 

free the males at the age of 21 years, and the female at 
the age of 18 years. Each and every child born of indent- 
ured parents shall be entered with the clerk of the county 
in which they reside, by the owners, within six months from 
the birth of said child." It seems by this that children of 
indentured persons were constitutionally owned by their 
masters. By reference to the law, which will be soon 
quoted, it will be seen that perpetual slavery was possible 
under this clause of the Constitution, for none of the chil- 
dren were emancipated till they were of legal age; but 
propagation may come much earlier than legal majority. 

Such were the Constitutional provisions of the first Con- 
stitution of the State, looking fair on their face; but on 
close scrutiny it is seen to attempt to provide for a mud- 
dled condition of things, which that old muddle of mud- 
dles, the slave system ever brought to the community 
and muddled the heads of our good fathers. They would 
prohibit it, but were required to make provisions for its 
continuance. The fathers of our Constitution, like Gov. 
Edwards and Nathanial Pope, were among the best of our 
early men. It was the hardest fate ever brought upon a 
nation, to face this perpetuated evil of centuries with the 
necessity that it must be ended ; and it is not strange that 
it took the greatest war of modern times to cut that intri- 
cate knot with the sword.* 

Wm. H. Brown, Esq., in a lecture before the Chicago 

* At the meeting of the Convention for forming the Constitution of Illinois, 
in August, 1818, a decided majority of the delegates were in favor of admitting 
slavery, in the face of the Northwestern Ordinance, and the Act of Congress 
authorizing the Call of the Convention, to the contrary notwithstanding. We 
were so informed by Col. Steyhenson, a member for Madison County, who 
said it was entirely owing to the efforts and influence of three men, who were 
not members, that the unrestricted admission of slavery into the State was not 
allowed by the Constitution. These men were Ninian Edwards, Nathaniel 
Pope, and Daniel P. Cook. As this fact was known to the disappointed 
slavocrats, they conceived the design of trying the question again at a future 
period. Hoofer lVa,rren. 



22 THE BLACK CODE OF ILLINOIS. 

Lyceum, December 8, 1840,* states that "the sixth article 
of the Constitution, declaring that slavery or involuntary 
servitude should not hereafter be introduced into the State, 
was the subject of warm debate, and the only exciting 
topic during the session." He then gives a sketch of the 
slave laws of the Territory, which will be given here in the 
proper place, and continues: "Thus it will be perceive'd 
that the subject of slavery, in all its varieties, as it then 
existed, was calculated to excite a deep interest when it 
was supposed that, by Acts of the Convention, it was to 
be upheld or wholly swept away. Its advocates were anx- 
ious to insert into the Constitution a saving clause, by 
which their supposed rights would be confirmed, while the 
ultras of the opposite party were ready to overturn the 
whole fabric. The Convention took a middle course, leav- 
ing the right to the French slaves and their descendants, 
to be adjudicated by the Courts of the country; and 
declaring that those who had been bound to service by 
indenture or contract, in conformity with the Territorial 
Law, without fraud or collusion, should be held to a specific 
performance of their contracts, and also that those who 
had been registered should serve out the time appointed 
by law. The anti-slavery men were contented with the 
saving clause in the words, "without fraud or collusion," as 
they contended that in all cases of indentured servants 
there was both the one and the other. To a great extent, 
they were no doubt correct ; for cases were not uncommon 
where the unfortunate servant, before going to the clerk's 
office, was whipped into a proper state of mind, 'freely 
and voluntarily' to enter into contract with his master. 
But in all cases it was understood that if his consent were 
not given, the slave would be immediately removed to a 
slave-holding state, to remain in bondage in the hands of 
some one perhaps less kind than his present possessor;" 
* FERGUS' HISTORICAL SERIES, No. 4. 



THE BLACK CODE OF ILLINOIS. 23 

and the master had sixty days in which to make the 
removal. 

FRENCH SLAVES. 

We must now go back a century or more to find facts 
which will help to solve this muddle of the Constitution. 

Notwithstanding Illinois was a part of the Northwest 
Territory, and under the restriction of this Ordinance and 
one of the States formed under it, it was nevertheless one 
of the old slave-colonies. Slavery was introduced into Illi- 
nois in 1720, when it was a part of the French possessions 
of the Northwest. Philip Francis Renault formed a com- 
pany in France for working mines in upper Louisiana, 
which was a part of Illinois; and he started from his coun- 
try ostensibly in the mining business, with two hundred 
mechanics and laborers, and on his way at San Domingo, 
he purchased five hundred slaves, and brought them with 
him to Illinois. A portion of these, or their descendants, 
were afterward removed to the other French possessions, 
on the west of the Mississippi, and helped to swell the ag- 
gregate of Louisiana slavery. Those that remained were 
the progenitors of the class known in our State from old 
time as the "French slaves," and fell in later as a part of 
the report of the census of slaves in Illinois ; and the French- 
man Renault must be set down as the first Illinois slave- 
holder.* 

These French slave-holders have been described as being 

* I find mention made of this important character in E. G. Mason's " Kas- 
kaskia and its Parish Records" (FERGUS* HISTORICAL SERIES, No. 12), 
under date of May, 1721. He appears at the register of the baptism of the 
son of a Pawnee slave, as le Sieur Philippe de la Renaudiere, directeur des 
mines pour la Compagnie " Occident. Mr. Mason says, " He was a great man 
in the new colony," and he appears next in the entry of the baptism of a son 
born of the marriage of himself (this Renaudiere) with the lady Perrine Pivet. 
The baptism of the son of this great man, of a little place, was a state affair, 
involving the signatures of all the other great characters of the community. 



24 THE BLACK CODE OF ILLINOIS. 

of rather high-class men, and kind and paternal to their 
slaves. We know that the French, on their possession of 
the Northwest, found little difficulty in affiliating with the 
aborigines, and doubtless they could look upon the black 
person as not altogether uncompanionable. As indicative 
of the French relations both to the Indians and the Negroes, 
we find such entries as these from Mr. Mason's transcript 
of the Parish Records of Kaskaskia. The first entry, in 
an early volume, is the record of the baptism of a son of 
one of Hennepin's voyageurs, intermarried with a daughter 
of the chief of the Kaskaskias. Entries of the baptisms 
of children by intermarriages with the Indians are very 
common. There is an entry of the baptism of the daugh- 
ter of a slave woman, which bears an Indian name. Records- 
are made of the baptisms of slaves, men and women ; and 
also of the marriage of slaves with each other. We know 
that the Catholics (of which religion these French settlers 
were) regard marriage as a holy sacrament, and baptism a 
sort of saving ordinance. These ceremonies, performed 
with the slaves Renault bought in St. Domingo, show that 
in the estimation of the good fathers the property relation 
could not step in to bar them from their spiritual privileges; 
whereas we know that in our enlightened period of Ameri- 
can Christian bondage, marriages were never solemnized 
with the slaves, except in mockery, and with the union 
limited to circumstances and the will of , the owner to sep- 
arate the twain; and baptism seldom, and then often in 
this form: "Caesar, the property of Napoleon Bonaparte 
Smith, I baptise thee in the name of- ," etc. We 

are glad to record that any sunshine of humanity could 
any where have penetrated into that dark cloud. 

This importation of blacks made a distinct class and the 
occasion of a distinct order of slaveholders about Kaskaskia 
and the American Bottoms, and where now descendants of 
both masters and slaves reside in a common Illinois citi- 



THE BLACK CODE OF ILLINOIS. 2$ 

zenship.* At that time slavery was legalized in all Chris- 
tian countries that is, if regulating a system which the law 
did not create be legalizing it. If there is any law that 
created American slavery, I have not yet found it. These 
slaves that Renault brought to Illinois were under French 
jurisdiction at that time and for nearly half a century, till 
the Northwest was ceded to Great Britain in the treaty of 
1763. They then came under the English law of bondage (if 
there was any such); and when the Territory was captured 
by George Rogers Clark, in 1778, which was done in the 
name of the sovereignty of Virginia, if they continued 
slaves under any law, it must have been under the slave 
code of Virginia. When that State c^eded the territory to 
the Nation, these slaves must have been perpetuated in 
bondage under United States law; and yet the United 
States had no such law. From the cession of Virginia to 
the Nation in 1784, till 1790, when Gov. St. Clair organ- 
ized the county which took his name, the people who resided 
in this Territory had no legislative or judicial supervision, 

* The Settlement of Kaskaskia, Prairie-du-Rocher, Fort Chartres, Prairie- 
du-Pont, and Cahokia, in the "American Bottom," now included in the coun- 
ties of Randolph, Monroe, and St. Clair, were made by Frenchmen about one 
hundred years previously to the passage of the Ordinance of 1787. These 
French settlers were principally Indian traders, the owners of a considerable 
number of slaves, which they continued to hold in defiance of that Ordinance^ 
and by the time the Territory and State began to be settled by Americans, 
they had become very wealthy. They, or their descendants, by means of 
intermarriage with American immigrants, have wielded an influence which has 
continued to rule the political destiny of the State. Among those Americans 
who thus made their fortunes by marrying the daughters or granddaughters of 
the old French settlers, are some of the numerous family of the Morrisons, 
Elias K. Kane, Col. Thomas Jefferson, Vance Owen, late Dr. Belts of Chi- 
cago. Judge Breese, (Judge Thomas, ) John Reynolds, and Adam W. Snyder. 
//. Warren in Genius of Liberty. 

Of the French descendants direct, there were those who had the same influ- 
ence in the line of their .inherited perquisite, as, for instance, Pierre Menard 
and Nicholas Jarrott. And as politicians, and they have been prominent as 
such in the State, they were ever true to their inherited interests. 



26 THE BLACK CODE OF ILLINOIS. 

and were a law unto themselves, holding the slaves with 
the grip which they had previously obtained. But the 
Ordinance for the secession declared that "there shall be 
neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said Terri- 
tory." Why this Ordinance was inoperative in this essen- 
tial point, to the slavery then in existence, is something 
similar in character to the later Dred Scott decision virt- 
ually that not to have slavery was unconstitutional. But 
the action of the Ordinance of 1787 was said to be pro- 
spective, and the courts so decided. It was not until 
1845 that the supreme court of this State settled this ques- 
tion of "vested rights," deciding that the slave descendants 
of Renault's importation of 125 years previous were free; 
and the Constitution of this State, of 1848, put an end to 
( involuntary servitude of every form in Illinois.* In 1800, 
there was probably a population in the section that became 
Illinois of about three thousand persons. At that time there 
were reported in the census, including Indiana as well, 133 
slaves. These must have been in the main in Illinois, and 
the descendants of the "French slaves." In 1810, Illinois 
had 168 slaves; in 1820,917 a vast increase in the course 
of twenty years, showing that the increase must have come, 
if genuine slaves, from smuggling in from the border 
slave States, and held under the inherited vested rights, or 
laborers in the salt-works, or from the "indentured -ser- 
vants system," which was a dodge upon the restrictive 
clause of the Ordinance. In 1820, the population of the 
State was 48,919 whites, 1,476 blacks, 917 of which were 
slaves; total, 50,395. 

ATTEMPTS TO ABROGATE THE ORDINANCE OF '87. 

There came, in time, the practise of disregarding this 
prohibition in bringing slaves into many parts of the 

* Western Annals. 



THE BLACK CODE OF ILLINOIS. 2/ 

Territory, and even reporting them in the census. This 
was done in Wisconsin as late as 1840, the marshal report- 
ing a number of slaves in the said Territory. Dr. E. G. 
Dyer, of Burlington, Wis., father of the United States 
judge, C. E. Dyer, of Racine, attacked the marshal for this 
illegal report, and disclosed the fact that these reported 
slaves were held generally by persons in official positions 
in the United States government* Such were some of the 
early assumptions of the doctrine of squatter sovereignty, 
that a man had the inalienable right to take his slave with 
him into any territory into which he chose to remove. These 
facts are a little ahead of the logical events of history. But 
it suits the symmetry of the subject to bring them in here. 
It is best, however, to state here that the prohibition of 
slavery in the Northwest Territory was a bid, like "free 
Kansas," for its settlement by a hardy and industrious class 
who thrived by the labor of their own hands, and for its 
settlement by a class of men from the South who were 
conscientiously opposed to slaveholding. It was empha- 
sized as a free country, and free men felt invited to make 
here their homes. The early population of the Northwest 
was composed of men of this mingled character; and 
those who believed that prosperity came from one man 
having the power to compel some other man to work for 
him for nothing, viz.: those who would own slaves. -j* 

There came, then, from this condition the incipient con- 
flict of ideas of the past generation. The anti-slavery sen- 

* See Appendix Slavery in Wisconsin. 

t During the consideration of the Ordinance of '87 in Congress, Rev. Ma- 
nassah Cutler, representing a company of capitalists from New England, was 
negotiating with Congress for the purchase of four millions of acres of land 
in the Northwest, on which to settle colonies from the East, which he declared 
would be "of the most robust and industrious people in America, which would 
instantly advance the price of Federal lands," etc. The anti-slavery sentiment 
of Virginia and the period of the Revolution, seconded by the desire of free 
laborers to possess the land, determined the policy of the Ordinance. 



28 THE BLACK CODE OF ILLINOIS. 

timent of the Revolution was then pervading as a live 
principle. There was dissatisfaction by interested persons 
on the other side at the restriction in the Ordinance. The 
first petition on the subject to Congress came in 1796, from 
four persons in Kaskaskia, in this State, the seat of this 
inherited French slavery, asking that slavery might be 
tolerated there. It seems that they felt they were holding 
their chattels on a feeble tenure. At that time we were 
all in one common Northwest Territory. Ohio became a 
State in 1 800; then all the territory west and north of the 
Ohio River, from the mouth of the Kentucky, became the 
Territory of Indiana, with William Henry Harrison gover- 
nor. In 1804, a Convention was held at Vincennes, of 
which Gov. Harrison was president, to deliberate on terri- 
torial interests, and from this Convention went up a memo- 
rial to Congress, which was referred to a committee, which 
reported, recommending the suspension of the sixth article 
of the Ordinance of 1787, "in a qualified manner, for ten 
years, so as to permit the introduction of slaves born in. 
the United States." This report was not adopted, and 
neither the previous prayer of the Kaskaskians heeded. 

At the session of the Indiana Territorial Legislature in 
1806-7, a series of resolutions were adopted and reported 
to Congress by the delegate, requesting the suspension of 
this restrictive article of the Ordinance. We were then a 
part of that Territory. Jesse B. Thomas was speaker of 
the house, and Pierre Menard, president of the council ; 
both citizens of Illinois, the latter a French slaveholder, and 
the former intermarried w r ith such. This report was lost 
in Congress also. These early efforts to establish slavery 
aroused the people, and an issue was made similiar to that 
which was made afterward in our State called the "conven- 
tion question." . Jonathan Jennings, an anti-slavery man t 
was elected Delegate to Congress, which position he held 
till Indiana was admitted as a State. It is known that 



THE BLACK CODE OF ILLINOIS. 29 

Gen. Harrison was in favor of introducing slavery into 
the Northwest Territory.* 

These facts prepare us for the introduction of " The 
Black Code of Illinois." Some of the people, if they could 
not have slavery legitimately, would have it illegitimately; 
for the infamy which fell upon us was conceived in sin and 
brought forth in iniquity, a half-parented progeny. 

TERRITORIAL LEGISLATION. 

The Indiana Territorial Legislature passed an Act, 
dated Sept. 17, 1807, which is the embryo of our Black 
Code, with this title: "An Act concerning the introduction 
of Negroes and Mulattoes into this Territory." 

As statute enactments are rather dull reading, I will 
summarise the thirteen sections of this act of 1807, which 
is the nucleus of our Black Code, into a few sentences. 

The Act permits the oivncr of any negro or mulatto, 

* There are facts as well as admissions that prove the views entertained by 
Gen. Harrison. See Henry Wilson's History of the Slave Power, also Harri- 
son's Speech at Vincennes, during the presidential canvass of 1840. 

"When this provision (excluding slavery fro/n the Territory of Illinois) was 
under consideration, Gen. Harrison, then a member of the House of Repre- 
sentatives from Ohio, declared in debate that this prohibitary clause could 
have no effect after the State was duly organized and admitted to the Union. 
[This seems to be primary squatter sovereignty.] He contended that his own 
State, Ohio, had the right, notwithstanding the Ordinance and the Act of 
Congress, at any time to alter her Constitution so as to admit slavery. "- 
Jlooper IVarren in Genius of Liberty, July 17, 1841. 

And not only was he in favor of legalizing slavery in the Northwest Terri- 
tory, but it appears that he was actually a slaveholder under the Ordinance of 
'87. We now give some facts from a rare and reliable source, Lundy's Genius 
sf Universal Emancipation. The article was published in 1822, in the Genius 
and in a Cincinnati paper, where the scene occurred : 

"A circumstance transpired about seven years ago in this city which shows 
clearly the tyrannical disposition of this self-styled ardent friend of human 
liberty. The story is related by the family who witnessed the scene, as follows : 
About the time above stated, Gen. Harrison entered the house of Mr. Jacob 
Hoops, on Sixth Street,, in search of a black woman named ISetty, whose ser- 
vice he claimed. He found her at her work in the kitchen, and immediately 



3O THE BLACK CODE OK ILLINOIS. 

above the age of 15, to bring him into the Territory and 
within 30 days to register him with the clerk, and there 
make an agreement, which is to be recorded. 

Sec. I. Authorizes the owner of any negro or mulatto 
of and above the age of 15 years, and owing service and 
labor as a slave, in any State or Territory in the United 
States, to bring said slaves into this Territory. 

Sec. 2. Provides that the owner of such negro, etc., 
might within 30 days go with the same before the Clerk of 
the Court of Common Pleas, in the county where the par- 
ties reside, and agree with the negro or mulatto upon the 
number of years he or she should serve the master, to be 
recorded by the Clerk. 

Sec. 3. Allows the master, in case of the refusal of 
the slave to make such contract, to remove him within 60 
days into any State or Territory. If the slave should 
stand on his new dignity and refuse, the master could 

ordered her to get her clothes and follow him. The woman started to go up 
stairs, which were at that time in an unfinished state, and as she was old and 
clumsy, and probably withal a good deal agitated, she found it difficult to 
ascend. Whereupon the general fell to beating her with his cane, in a most 
unmerciful manner, and actually broke it by the violence of the blows. Not- 
withstanding he was William H. Harrison, late a general in the army, he 
received a severe reprimand from a young lady, the daughter of Mr. Hoops, 
which, if it did not shame him very much, astonished him. Mr. Hoops, 
hearing a disturbance in the house, went in and inquired the cause; where- 
upon the humane, noble-hearted general, seeing a man in the house, imme- 
diately retired. Shortly after, he had the woman arrested according to law, 
took her before a magistrate, and substantiated his claim to her. 

Now came on the second act of the heart-rending scene. The woman (as 
might be expected from the treatment she had received) utterly refused to go 
with the general. She said he had agreed to set her free at a certain time, on 
condition she would come with him from Vincennes to this State; that she 
had left her husband and came on that condition; and that the time appointed 
had expired. But her entreaties were of no avail; this friend of human free- 
dom had her dragged in a most shocking, brutal manner across the common 
to his boat on the river!" What strange combinations of legal assumptions 
could have made Gen. Harrison believe he had any title to this woman, to 
take her from one free state to another! or to hold her anywhere! 



THE BLACK CODE OF ILLINOIS. 31 

remove him in 60 days. Property could be acquired in 
these registered slaves, till males were 35, females 32 and 
children born of such should be owned by their master till 
30 and 28. 

Sec. 5. Provides that any person removing into the 
Territory with, or should any person acquire, a property in 
such slaves, they might hold such slaves to service, males 
to the age of 35, females to 32. 

Sec. 6. Made it the duty of the master to register with 
the Clerk their names and ages, and they were styled reg- 
istered or indentured servants. 

Sec. 13. Provided that children born of such indentured 
parents, should serve their masters (owners}, males until 
the age of 30, females 28. 

This continued to be the law of the Territory, of which 
Illinois was a part; in 1809, Illinois became a Territory of 
herself, and re-enacted the former territorial laws, making 
the Act above quoted the law of the Illinois Territory. It 
is this law that is referred to in the Constitution quoted, 
and therein somewhat modified. This Territorial Black 
Code, with the Constitutional modifications, became the 
law by adoption of the State of Illinois, until she remod- 
eled and enlarged it in 1819. 

But the iniquity of the thing was not yet wholly ma- 
tured. Under the State law, it was simplified and worked 
up into a system. The laws were revised, and what had 
gone before with that which seemed best to have added, 
were codiciled, so to speak, or made into our code. The 
revision took place in 1833. It is in this revision, with the 
act of 1829, where the special elements of slavery come in, 
by which we may characterize it as a Slave, as well as a 
Black Code. 

STATE LEGISLATION. 
Act approved March 30, 1819. 



32 THE BLACK CODE OF ILLINOIS. 

Sec. I. Prohibits any black or mulatto person settling 
or residing in the State without producing a certificate of 
freedom, etc. This section was amended and will be 
referred to again. It was the first blow at free negroes. 
It follows the precedent of slave- state legislation, that 
gives no place for a negro on our broad domain unless he 
be a slave; in this case, that this State shall not be an 
asylum for those who ran away from oppression. 

There are 25 sections to this act, and if it were not for 
the variety of the matter, would be very dull reading. I 
have carefully summarised them all. It would weary you 
beyond measure, if I were to give these sections entire. 
But you may be assured they will read very well by the 
side of the Blue Laws; Black and Blue together. 

Sec. 2. Makes it the duty of all free negroes having 
families and having a certificate, as before provided, to 
register their families, with a description of each name, 
age, etc. 

Sec. 3. Prohibits any person from bringing any slave 
into this State for the purpose of emancipating such slave, 
making it a condition for those who do so, to give bond 
in the penal sum of one thousand dollars, condition that 
such slave shall not become a county charge; neglecting 
so to do, subjected the offender to a fine of $200 for each 
one so emancipated. [The law was in operation, and 
upon Gov. Coles, for emancipating his Virginia slaves, at 
Edwardsville, in 1819.]* It was amended in 1833, so as to 

* Edward Coles, afterward governor, was born in Virginia, and was an 
anti-slavery man of the old school of Jefferson, Franklin, etc. He removed 
to this State for permanent residence in 1819. He brought with him a family 
of slaves, whom he had inherited. On a flatboat on the Ohio River he for- 
merly gave them their freedom. On the 4th of July, 1819, he legally eman- 
cipated them, giving them deeds of emancipation. This was in violation of 
the law of March 19, which had been passed the previous spring, and which, 
at that time, was not generally known, not having been published. These 
deeds of emancipation were the basis of much persecution, and a long and 



THE BLACK CODE OF ILLINOIS. 33 

allow the emancipator release, on giving bonds that the 
slave should not become a county charge. 

Sec. 4. Requires every black or mulatto (except slaves 
or persons held to service) to register his name and his 
family, with their description and the evidences of free- 
dom, which shall be recorded by the clerk, which certifi- 
cate of record should be sufficient evidence of freedom, 
except as against the claim of a slave-owner. This was a 
law altogether to hit the free negro. 

Sec. 5. Forbids any person, under a penalty of one 
dollar and fifty cents a-day, from hiring or employing such 
negroes, without a certificate of freedom, keeping the said 
free negro out of employment. This was amended. 

Sec. 10. Makes it the duty of masters to provide ser- 
vants with sufficient food, clothing, etc., a law found 
necessary in slavery but it is no where found necessary to 
require an owner to give his horse sufficient hay and grain, 
unless on common grounds of cruelty to animals. 

Sec. ii. Makes these contracts for services assignable 
to other persons, with consent of servants, such assign- 
ments to administrators, assigns, etc. Thus the property 
relation is recognized. It was a common thing to sell 
these servants. 

Sec. 12. Provides that any servant being lazy, disor- 
derly, guilty of misbehavior, may be whipped, upon an 
, order of a justice; or refusing to work, be compelled by a 
like process, and forfeiting two days to the end of his ser- 
vice for every one in which he so refuses and is whipped 

bitter lawsuit. Suit was instituted against him in 1824, while he was governor 
of the State, by a worthless fellow set on for the purpose, with the title, The 
County of Madison versus Edward Coles. John Reynolds was the judge, and 
the case went over to another term, and judgment rendered against defendant 
for $2000. The Legislature, in 1825, passed an Act releasing all penalties 
under this Act. But the case was still kept in court by appeals and devices 
of annoyance, until finally the emancipator was let off from the penalty of this 
philanthropic deed, by the payment of heavy costs. 

3 



34 THE BLACK CODE OF ILLINOIS. 

up to it, and all expenses, including whipping, be paid by 
him in labor, which would finally have to be whipped out 
of him. 

Sec. 13. Provides that for the failure of the master's 
duties, or if he is guilty of injuring his servant, it must be 
redressed in the Circuit Court a pretty hard court for a 
flogged slave to get access to. 

Sec. 14. Makes all contracts between masters and ser- 
vants, during the time of service, void. 

Sec. 15. Makes it the duty of the Circuit Court at all 
times to hear complaints of servants, being citizens, (here 
is a difference) against masters, for immoderate correction, 
or on complaints of masters against servants for desertion, 
etc. There was a slave law in slave States that absolved 
a master from punishment if the slave died under moder- 
ate correction. 

There seems to be some protection to the negro in these 
sections, but we shall see that in the Act concerning Prac- 
tise in the Courts, in R. Laws, page 536, it provides that a 
person having one-fourth negro-blood, shall in no case be 
a witness against a white person. 

Sec. 1 6. Provides that if any servant shall lawfully 
acquire property during the time of service, such property 
shall be for his own use; and the master is compelled to 
care for him when sick and lame, until his term expires, 
under penalty of $30, for use of the county. [Mercy here 
again some what strained.] 

Sec. 17. Forbids any negro or Indian from purchasing 
any servant other than of their own color, and makes such 
contract void. [If this law had extended to white per- 
sons it might have put a new face on servant hire.] 

Sec. 18. Forbids any person to hire or to buy, sell, 
receive of, to, or from any servant or slave, any coin, or 
commodity, without consent of the master, under a forfeit- 
ure of four times the value of the article sold or given. 



THE BLACK CODE OF ILLINOIS. 35 

[A dollar given in good-will on Christmas would involve 
a forfeiture of four dollars.] It also provides that at the 
expiration of the term, the clerk shall give a certificate, 
which shall indemnify any person for thereafter hiring. 

Sec. 19. Provides that in all cases of penal acts, where 
free persons are punishable by fine, servants shall be pun- 
ished by whipping^ and the rate given (twenty lashes for 
every eight dollars, the rate of the currency being forty 
cents a lash), unless the offender procures another person 
to pay his fine. 

[We see from the above, with all power of contract gone, 
and buying and selling prohibited, what little chance the 
person has of lawfully acquiring property, or what chance 
he may have of paying off a penalty, for which the white 
loafer pays eight dollars, while the black must settle it at 
the rate of twenty lashes for every eight dollars. We can 
see no reasonableness in this, except that, like the skinning 
of eels, they did n't mind it, because they were used to it.] 

Sec. 20. Provides that at the expiration of his service, 
every servant may have his freedom recorded, etc. 

Sec. 21. Provides that if any slave or servant shall be 
found at a distance of ten miles from the tenement of his 
master without a pass, it shall be lawful for any person to 
apprehend and carry him or her before a justice, by whose 
order he or she may be whipped, not exceeding thirty-five 
lashes. [How much thirty-five lashes means there is no 
way to tell, unless some one tries it, having them well laid 
on.] 

Sec. 22. Provides that if any slave or servant shall pre- 
sume to come and be upon the plantation, or at the dwell- 
ing of any person whatever, without leave of his or her 
owner, not being sent on lawful business, [it is pretty hard 
to tell just here, in this muddle of law, what is lawful 
business for a slave] the owner of such plantation or 
dwelling may give such servant or slave ten lashes on the 
bare back. 



36 THE BLACK CODE OF ILLINOIS. 

Sec. 23. Provides that riots, routs, unlawful assemblies, 
trespasses, and seditious speeches by any slave or slaves, 
servant or servants, may be punished, at the discretion of a 
justice; and whoever will, MAY apprehend such persons 
and bring them before the justice. [This Mr. Whoever 
Will becomes a constable. There may be a black crowd, 
perhaps of one more than three jolly persons, and at the 
lead of one white villain they may be brought before a 
justice, and he the only witness of their evil plotting or 
riotous conduct, (negroes will sometimes laugh boister- 
ously,) and not one of them can say a word of defence or 
explanation, or affirm that they were not engaged in their 
spiritual devotions, but they must bare their backs to 
whatever flagelation the justice may discretionarily inflict.] 

We have a vague notion that the Ordinance of '87 had 
something to say to the effect that slaves should not be 
on this soil to tempt the lash of the justice; also that the 
Constitution has something to say in regard to offences, 
trial by jury, and about unreasonable arrests; and that 
punishments should be in proportion to offences, and not 
according to the amount of whisky that had been imbibed. 

Sec. 24. Imposes a fine of $20 upon any person who 
suffers or permits slaves or servants of color, to the num- 
ber of more than three, to assemble in any house, yard, or 
shed, (pasture and wood-lot ought to have been added) for 
the purpose of reveling, night or day. [Fun, as well as 
mischief, is here discouraged by the righteous law. This 
is a law for white men, and they come in for some share of 
the penalty, in giving any countenance to the effervescent 
demonstrations of the colored person's right to be a man.] 

Sec. 25. Makes it the duty of all coroners, sheriffs, 
judges, and justices, who see or know of any such assem- 
blage, immediately to commit such persons to jail; and on 
proof have them whipped, (whipped for having a jolly 
time,) not exceeding exceeding how much? thirty-nine 



THE BLACK CODE OF ILLINOIS. 37 

lashes on the bare back, the very next day, unless it should 
be Sunday, then the whipping was to come off Monday. 
[Swift and pious justice! Every black crowd of more 
than three, for having a jolly night of it, might be tolera- 
bly sure of a thirty-nine lash flogging the very next day, 
unless it was done on the slave's favorite night for a good 
time, Saturday night, then they might be sure of the Sab- 
bath's rest and contemplation in jail of what should come 
on Monday, which might be called a red-day. One is per- 
plexed which to admire most, the philanthropy of this law 
or its piety, as is indicated by its reverence for the Lord's 
Holy Day.] 

These several last sections seem like a transcript of the 
slave codes of Louisiana or South Carolina. The people of 
those days in Illinois must have lived in mortal fear of an 
insurrection of their numerous slaves. Possibly there may 
have been an awakening of conscience to have made cow- 
ards of them all. 

THE SLAVE PARTY. 

Thus far, as to the legislation of the State, soon after 
Illinois became one of the Union, perhaps indicating the 
civilization of the times. The Act of which the foregoing 
is a summary, was approved March 30, 1819. Shadrack 
Bond was then our first Governor. It was evidently in 
accordance with the sentiments of the Governor, and the 
personal party which supported him. Political party lines 
were not then drawn. But there was then- already a nu- 
cleus of a party forming; HOOPER WARREN, the editor of 
the only anti-slavery paper in the State, or indeed then in 
the Nation, called it the SLAVE PARTY. The promoters of 
the slave system in our legislature but not the people at 
large had shown thus much their greed for the slavery 
that was monopolized in the section known as the slave 
States. That system was wisely excluded by the Ordi- 



38 THE BLACK CODE OF ILLINOIS. 

nance of '87, and they took the next best substitute they 
could for it; indentured and registered servants, and slav- 
ery to a limited extent, in a thin disguise, and in the 
monopoly of the salt business. The population at the 
extreme section of the State was made up largely from 
emigrants over the line in Kentucky, and the neighboring 
State of Tennessee, and they thought it a political blun- 
der that slavery had been excluded from this Territory. 
Among the population there was a class of men from the 
South who were conscientiously opposed to slavery; and 
also in the northern section, a population from the Free- 
States, who had never had the curse of slavery upon them, 
and desired to be ever free from it. This class abounded 
in th,e northern counties, which had rapidly become more 
populous; but at the same time, by the apportionment of 
representatives in districts, the slave party, as Mr. Warren 
called it, had a preponderating influence in the legislature. 
The legislature for many years in the beginning of our 
career as a State, was in favor of the slave policy, and the 
people against it. 

LEGALIZATION OF SLAVERY. 

Therefore, four years after the passage of this law, of 
which I have given a synopsis, the legislature, through 
some crookedness, passed an Act, to authorize the people 
to vote on a call for a convention to alter the constitution, 
by a two-thirds vote, for the ostensible purpose of legislat- 
ing slavery, genuine Kentucky slavery, into the State of 
Illinois. This was that important epoch in our State his- 
tory known as the Convention Question, and not much 
known at the present time either. The people voted it 
down by a respectable majority. With this object, voted 
for at that election on the same ticket, "For the Conven- 
tion," which meant for slavery, were the following proposi- 
tions: 



THE BLACK CODE OF ILLINOIS. 39 

"For exclusion of negroes and mulattoes. No right of 
suffrage or office to negroes or mulattoes." 

"For laws excluding negroes and mulattoes from com- 
ing into and voting in this State." 

I never have been able to find the Act which authorized 
the people to vote on the Convention, but I infer that the 
vote was on these propositions as well, and was voted 
down with the call, for I find them on a ticket, as given in 
the lately-published life of Gov. Edward Coles, by Hon. 
E. B. Washburne. This Convention Question forms a 
chapter of its own. It has been an overlooked episode in 
our history. Almost all that has been published about it, 
consecutively, has come from the auspices of the Histori- 
cal Society, in Mr. Brown's Lecture,* and in Mr. Wash- 
burne's Life of Coles. It is remarkable as being the only 
triumph made by the people over a direct issue for slavery, 
national or otherwise, made by the machinations of the 
slave power, from the passage of the Ordinance of '87 till 
the defeat of the slave power in its rebellion. It was a 
political conflict, immediately succeeding the Missouri 
Compromise, in which the slave power won, and which 
partook of the nature of the prolongation of that contest, 
transferred to a free State. 

It is worthy of note, how much the people in the early 
period of our State were misrepresented by the legisla- 
ture. The people were soundly opposed to the slavery 
policy, from the earliest time, so that, as we have seen, the 
combined Territory of Indiana elected Jonathan Jennings, 
an anti-slavery man, delegate, and kept him in office till 
Indiana became a State; then, in the Territory of Illinois, 
Nathaniel Pope, an anti-slavery man, was elected and was 
a delegate when Illinois became a State; and Ninan 
Edwards, the Territorial Governor, was known as an anti- 
slavery man, though, as one of our first Senators, he voted 
* FERGUS' HISTORICAL SERIES, No. 4. 



40 THE BLACK CODE OF ILLINOIS. 

for the admission of Missouri with slavery. The people 
were known to be opposed to the Missouri Compromise, 
yet the legislature elected Senators who supported it, while 
the people elected Daniel P. Cook to Congress, who had 
voted against it; the legislature refused to censure or 
instruct their Senators, while the people reflected Cook by 
a large majority; the legislature voted for a convention, 
and the people largely voted it down; the people con- 
tinued to reelect Mr. Cook, the anti-slavery Representative 
to Congress, while the legislature made Senators succes- 
sively of the candidates, John McLean, and E. K. Kane, 
who were beaten by Mr. Cook in the election with the 
people. 

The legislature having failed to get a recognition from 
the people for the Convention, and for the expulsion of 
free negroes, and general slave policy in that vote of 1824, 
proceeded to do what they could, in their own way, to 
carry out this policy, apparently independent of their 
constituents. The legislature was then so constituted, as 
partly explained before, that a minority of the voters 
could elect a majority of the State Representatives and 
Senators. 

It is to be observed that this Act of 1819, which I have 
abridged, related mainly to the introduction of negroes as 
servants. It need -not be inferred there were no negroes, 
free or otherwise, in the State, or that they were indiffer- 
ent as to their treatment and fate, or that they laid down 
supinely under the burden of oppression laid upon .them, 
or that they had no friends to advocate their rights. They 
had such friends as Gov. Coles, Hooper Warren, John M. 
Peck, Morris Birkbeck, and George Flower. Persons styl- 
ing themselves free persons of color, had the audacity to 
petition the Legislature of 1822-3, in which they very 
humbly asked a redress from their grievances under the 
law cited, and for the right of suffrage. The petition starts 



THE BLACK CODE OF ILLINOIS. 41 

forth with this premise: "Notwithstanding the Father of 
Mercies moved the hearts of the citizens of this State, and 
actuated them to throw off the shackles of slavery from 
our sable race, yet, awful to relate, (and in a free country, 
too,) we are the objects of rapine, plunder, and devasta- 
tion to free-booters." One would think so from the law 
which I have given in synopsis. This petition deserves 
a place in full in this history. The style of the production 
shows that it was of the colored people's own concoction.* 
The promoters of the slave party had failed to get from 
the people any authority for special legislation against free 
blacks. If their policy is to be pursued, some amend- 
ments or additions to the existing code will be required; 
and the coming emergency, in the growing civilization, or 
uncivilization, which contact with the growing love for 
slavery aggression demanded, must be regarded with or 
without constitutional authority. The process of amend- 
ment did not mend, but marred, as alterations in the com- 
mandments consists in breaking them in other spots. 

LEGISLATION INTENSIFIED. 

So in 1829, five years after the rebuff on the Convention 
Question, and the several disapprovals by the people of 
the policy of the slave party, the Black or Slave Code was 
amended by additions, and the animus of th& times vented 
upon the negro as a negro, in the Act of January 7, (1829) 
which will now come up for review. 

This Act will be seen to be largely a transcript of the 
genuine slave code of the Southern Slave States, applied 
to territory where slavery was forever prohibited. Hith- 
erto the negro had in a measure been left to himself, if he 
did not happen to belong to the enslaved class; and there 
did not seem to be any call to legislate to keep the negro 
in the bonds which had been laid upon him in the other 

* See Appendix. 



42 THE BLACK CODE OF ILLINOIS. 

states. So this act becomes a voluntary offering to the 
slave system that was locked up in the Nation. This, and 
the previous one of 1819, was further sanctified by being 
taken in bodily into the Revised Laws of 1833. We will 
now proceed with a synopsis of the Act of January 7, 
1829 passed ten years after the previous Act. 

Sec. i. Prohibits any black or mulatto person, not 
being a citizen of the United States, from coming and 
residing in this State, until such person shall produce to 
the County Commissioners' Court where he or she shall 
settle, a certificate of freedom, duly authenticated; and 
also give bond in the penal sum of one thousand dollars, 
with sufficient security, conditioned that such person shall 
never become a charge to any county in this State as a 
poor person; and at all times to demean himself or herself 
in strict conformity with the laws that now are, or here- 
after shall be, enacted. It also imposes a fine of Jive 
hundred dollars (one-half to the county and the other to 
the prosecutor) upon all persons who shall harbor, hire, or 
in any way give sustenance, to any negro or mulatto who 
has not such bond. 

[Now in all conscience, what has come over the face of 
the earth, especially Illinois, these last ten years, that 
should so have affected the negro, the morals, the religion, 
the education, culture, and civilization of the people of this 
State, up to the momentous epoch of 1829, that such an 
act, bearing upon the negro, should have been passed, as 
indicated by this first section? What sticklers for the 
observance of law the people have at once become, or the 
legislature, that they put one class of people under bond 
to obey the law which another class have enacted, or may 
hereafter enact! And have the people such regard for it, 
that before they give a hungry man a dinner, before they 
send him down into the pasture to drive up the cows, 
before they let a poor colored woman wash their shirts, 



THE BLACK CODE OF ILLINOIS. 43 

before they pull certain persons out of the water for fear 
they will be drowned, they will search in their pockets to 
see if they have given a bond for freedom!] 

We will observe the apparent sincerity with which the 
first clause opens, in recognizing the rights of citizens of 
any one of the other States. This was suggested from a 
clause in the Missouri -Compromise Act, that while the 
said act permitted slavery, it prohibited the State from 
excluding from her citizenship any person who was a 
citizen of another State; which meant free negroes from 
States where there was no restriction on account of color. 
New York was then an instance of this kind. This was 
supposed to be a bitter pill for Missouri; but she took it 
with her slavery with a right good relish, and she honora- 
bly stood by it to the last; and a free 'nigger' of New York 
was always a free 'nigger' in Missouri. Illinois imitated her 
slave-holding honor in that regard, in this clause of the 
section quoted. But as the apostacy towards slavery came 
on, this right in Illinois was regarded less sacred, and this 
clause was repealed, as we shall see, and a colored citizen 
of New York was no longer permitted to settle in Illinois, 
and thus the State sunk itself below the slave-holding 
honor of Missouri. 

Sec. 2. Declares that any black or mulatto person who 
shall be found in this State, not having such a certificate 
(as required in section one), shall be deemed a run-away 
slave or servant, and may be taken by any inhabitant in 
this State before a justice, and if unable to produce a cer- 
tificate, the justice shall commit him or her to the custody 
of the sheriff, who shall keep such person, and in three 
days advertise him upon the court-house door, and in the 
nearest newspaper, giving a description of such supposed 
run-away; and if within six weeks the person so com- 
mitted shall not produce a certificate or other evidence of 
freedom, (the citizen of New York could produce neither 



44 THE BLACK CODE OF ILLINOIS. 

master or certificate of freedom, and other evidence might 
not be available, and no claim could be made for him 
except by a kidnapper) the sheriff shall hire out such per- 
son for the best price, after five days' notice, from month 
to month, for one year; and if during the year no owner 
shall appear and substantiate a claim to such person, the 
sheriff shall give a certificate of the facts; whereupon 
such person shall be deemed free, unless thereafter lawfully 
claimed by a proper owner. Should such owner appear, 
he is required to pay to the taker-up ten dollars, to the 
justice two dollars, and to the sheriff reasonable fees and 
expenses. [We see that the object of this section is to 
make a blood-hound of the State for southern slave-hold- 
ers; and that the "any inhabitant" who plays the part of 
the blood-hound is well paid, and that justice at two dol- 
lars is cheap.] 

Sec. 3. Forbids, under penalty of fine, whipping, and 
imprisonment, any marriage of all persons of color with a 
white person, male or female; and makes such marriage 
null. And fine is threatened to any person who shall 
license, or perform the marriage ceremony. [This is a 
consummation not devoutly to be wished by the newly- 
married couple, the whipping -post. It is a prohibition 
against legal amalgamation; illegitimate amalgamation is 
not even discouraged by this Act, and the prohibition of 
the testimony of a colored person, male or female, against 
a white person, opens wide the flood-gates of sin.] 

Sec. 4. Provides that if any negro or mulatto, the 
property of any citizen of the United States, shall come 
into the State for the purpose of hiring out, and shall 
institute proceedings for his freedom, his case shall be dis- 
missed from the court. And then the sheriff shall take 
possession of the negro and confine him in jail, and notify 
the owner, and keep him till the owner comes. [A short 
way to dispose of a case in court! How happy it would 



THE BLACK CODE OF ILLINOIS. 45 

be for some of us impecunious fellows if, when we are sued 
for a debt, the case is thrown out of court, and the cred- 
itor seized and put in jail. That would have been an old- 
fashioned stay-law, with an amendment.] 

Such is an abstract of the Act of 1829, which was also 
incorporated into the Revised Laws of 1833. But this Act 
had to be amended, but not mended. For in 1831, the 
law was made to declare that no black or mulatto person 
should be permitted to reside in the State, thus cutting 
down the right of citizenship of citizens of other States, 
which Missouri never assumed to do up to the advent of 
the rebellion. The same Amendment also fines any per- 
son one hundred dollars for bringing any slave into the 
State for the purpose of freeing him, and fines all persons 
who assist him in so doing. [This was passed before the 
under-ground railroads did a flourishing business.] 

These, the Act of 1819 and the Act of 1829, were the 
two main pillars of the Black Code. But there were other 
laws that had other phases, in which they touched the 
black man; indeed, the animus of white pride, after this is 
intensified. What an awful inference used to come from 
this idea of color! The devil is made black; in Africa, the 
devil is white. 

I quote now from the Criminal Code, approved Febru- 
ary 1 6, 1833. All that has gone before we understand, 
the fines, and the whippings, and the imprisonments, were 
civil; now we arb to see what was criminal in our treat- 
ment of the black 'man. And we have it in laws that 
apply primarily to white people; these, white people are 
to obey; whereas before it was only black persons who 
were to obey who could not go on to a neighbor's farm 
without permission, who could not gather together in num- 
bers more than three, and who could not have a jolly time 
on Saturday without being flogged on Monday. 



46 THE BLACK CODE OF ILLINOIS. 

THE CRIMINAL CODE. 

Sec. 149. Enacts that if any person (the law does not 
say in this Act, "if any black or mulatto person") shall 
harbor or secrete any negro or person of color, the same 
being a slave or servant, owing service to any person resid- 
ing in this State, or any other Stale or Territory of the 
Unite i States, (what a care it has for the citizens of other 
States!) or shall in any way /tinder or prevent the lawful 
owner from retaking such slave or servant in a lawful man- 
ner, he shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and 
fined, not exceeding five hundred dollars, or imprisoned, 
not exceeding six months. 

Now we know what crime is. This law was passed 
nearly twenty years before the national 'fugitive-slave law. 
It virtually made Illinois the blood-hound of the whole 
slave region, including any supposed territory, which only 
the future could curse with slavery. Other States followed 
this example with similar enactments. It is very possible 
that Judge Douglas, in his zeal for the good cause, may 
have given to his friend, Senator Mason, of Virginia, a 
copy of this Act, as a model for the National Fugitive-Slave 
Law of 1850. To Illinois belongs the dishonor of having 
been the first to make a law which made it a crime to 
feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, and to shelter the 
stranger, or protect the fugitive from oppression. "Beray 
not him that wandereth," is a command to humanity that 
has come ringing down through all the ages of the past. 
She opened wide the gate of destruction, as revealed by 
the Saviour of Men, in the picture of the scene of the 
Last Judgment. 

Sec. 150. Actually forbids any person who holds to 
service any servant under the laws of the Territory of 
Indiana or Illinois, from taking them out of the State for 
sale (otherwise kidnapping them), under the fearful penalty 



THE BLACK CODE OF ILLINOIS. 47 

of forfeiting his right to them, and of a fine, not exceed- 
ing five hundred dollars, one-half to the benefit of the 
kidnapped. The penalty of kidnapping is just the same 
in fine as feeding and comforting the same person in dis- 
tress, with the imprisonment left out. 

TRUTH ON THE COLOR LINE. 

Section 16 and section 3 in other Acts declare that the 
testimony of no black or mulatto person, or Indian, shall 
be received in evidence against a white person. One- 
fourth negro blood defines a mulatto, or makes a black 
man. These Acts apply to civil and criminal proceedings. 
Observe that I introduced certain sections, with the premise 
that no black or mulatto person should do so and so. 
Now we know actually what a black person is he may be 
the offspring of an African, or be the child of a person 
purely of European extraction, with another European 
whose father or mother was an African. Thus the cele- 
brated French author, Dumas, could not have given testi- 
mony against Patrick O'Flanagan in a court of justice in 
Illinois. 

The Act of 1827 denies the right of habeas corpus to 
the black man in a trial for his liberty. 

The law for the establishment of free schools, after 
eulogizing education as the means of perpetuating the 
liberties of the people, limits the benefits of the school 
system to white children. No black or mulatto person, 
the son of the greatest of the black's, Tousaint L'Over- 
ture, intermarried with the sister of the greatest of the 
whites, Napoleon Bonaparte, (an alliance which, if made, 
he need not have been so much ashamed of, as he might 
have been of some of his family alliances,) could not have 
been legally taught to read God's Word in the public 
schools of Illinois. 



48 THE BLACK CODE OF ILLINOIS. 

OTHER LEGISLATION. 

In an act for taxation, passed as late as 1839, are 
classed along with stud horses, asses, jennies, mules, and 
cattle, slaves and servants of color for assessment for taxes, 
with other kinds of personal property. Thus were men, 
because colored, bought and sold as property, advertised 
in newspapers as runaways, bequeathed in wills, and set- 
tled in estates, and now classed with jackasses, as prop- 
erty for taxation, under the laws of this State. 

As population increased and civilization advanced in 
the State, it is but to be presumed that amendments and 
alterations of our laws would be required. Here seemed 
to be a broad sphere of amendment in the proper sense. 
So we find, as in 1833, that in 1845 our laws required 
revision, and condensation into the practical form for 
administration, so we have the statute book of 1845. 
Immediately following the intense agitation for the repeal 
of these laws, and the various attempts at prosecution, 
such as the Lovejoy trial, we find in this new book of 
the law all this code affecting the negro, which I have ! 
reviewed, properly compiled, and made available in the 
courts of justice for effective use. The Black Code is there 
perhaps rehashed, but certainly boiled down and intensi- 
fied, parting with none of its peculiar ancient animus, but 
as ever weighted down with all the malignity that patriot- 
ism demanded should be aimed at the unfortunate negro. 

A HIGH MISDEMEANOR. 

We come along down now a few years further, till two 
or three years after the enactment of the National Fugi- ; 
tive- Slave Law, (the Nation therein showed the big N,) 
and we find still another law on this irrepressible subject, 
that of February 12, 1853. What immediate occasion 
there was for it it is hard to tell; it is only an emphasis, 
like the traditional sentence of the judge on the culprit of