Many people assume that since Illinois was a northern free state, that there was no slavery here. But it’s a bit more complicated. Chattel slavery in the territorial years, indentured servitude, slavery exemptions in at least five counties, and gradual emancipation all meant that unfree labor was a constant in Illinois leading up to the Civil War.
Dr. Bryan Jack (at left) will provide an overview of slavery and unfree labor in Illinois. Jack is an associate professor of historical studies at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.