[civilwarwest] Re: slave labor and confederate forces
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>Thanks Margret, that was excellent. My next question is this, have
you written any books? If not then why not? :)
Thanks and have a great day. Hope it isn't snowing like hell where
you are. (we have an unexpected blizzard here in Northern New
England. Boston is wet, but there is snow on everything North of it.)
No books written. Unfortunately, there's no way I can find the time to do
one properly in terms of research, etc., and I wouldn't want to do one
unless I felt I had something that would really add to the understanding of
I'm in Pennsylvania. It's just grim and drizzly here. The snow is long
gone and, fortunately, while it is chilly, it's too warm for ice.
- The creed is pretty black in the northern end of Illinois; about the center
it is a pretty good mulatto; and it is almost white when you get down to
Egypt. Senator Stephen A. Douglas, in the United States Senate, February
With consideration for some political exaggeration, Douglas had it about
right. Indeed a major reason for the Republican selection of Abraham Lincoln
was the diverse population of his home state, and the correct perception
that he was a moderate anti-slavery conservative (not as oxymoronic as it
Describing Southern Illinois as Egypt goes back to at least early
statehood days, and in still occasionally used: a few years ago, I was
driving on an election night and station surfing the car radio when I
picked up a Chicago radio station. They were giving state-wide results and
the reporter made the comment that the returns were slow coming in from
The term was applied to the area essentially South of todays I-70: in the
nineteenth century the counties included varied a little, depending upon the
newspaper editors political leanings but Alton, where Abolitionist Owen
Lovejoy had been murdered by a pro-slavery mob in 1837, and Springfield were
about as far North as Egypt ran. Egypt was settled by families from the
slave South, primarily Kentucky and Virginia, with names like Logan from
Ellicott Mills, Maryland and Thomas Lincoln from Kentucky by way of Indiana.
On the other hand, Northern Illinois was settled by Yankees from New
England, from the Burned Over District of New York, and Ohios Western
Reserve, as well as large numbers of foreign-born.
In 1860, the census showed significant differences between Northern and
Southern Illinois: the largest city in Egypt was Cairo, at the mouth of the
Ohio River (and pronounced like the syrup, not the city in Egypt), with a
population of 2,188 compared to Chicagos 112,172. In the state as a whole,
foreign born made up 19% of the residents of Illinois but only 5% of those
living in Egypt.
The position of slavery in Illinois was complex: the Northwest Ordnance
prohibited slavery in the Territories north of the Ohio River, but the
Ordnance also allowed those already owning slaves in Illinois to keep them.
In addition, the Illinois Territorial legislature allowed black
apprentices, slaves in everything but name (the slave owners conveniently
ignored the problem that, like a minor child, a slave could not legally
After statehood, the Southern Illinois argued for the state to legalize
slavery, the Northwest Ordnance no longer being in force now that the
territory was a state. After an 18 month fight, the measure was defeated in
1824 by a vote of 6,822 to 4,950.
The fight to make and keep Illinois a free state was led by Edward Coles,
the states second governor: he was a Virginian, who had grown up in
Albemarle County, next door, as it were, to Monticello. Coles corresponded
and talked frequently with the elder Jefferson about the Particular
Institution, which Coles had come to detest. Jefferson maintained that
slavery was bad but, rather like Robert E. Lee a generation later, nothing
could be done about the wolf. (Cole had served as private secretary to
Pres. Madison and was instrumental in bringing together in their old age
those two revolutionaries, turned political opponents, Jefferson and John
Coles refused to believe nothing could be done about slavery. He sold his
plantation and immigrated with his slaves to Illinois in 1819. Once there,
Coles manumitted the slaves and purchased and settled each family on 160
acre tracts of Missouri bottom land near his new home in Edwardsville, down
in Egypt. Edwardsville in located in the Mississippi bottom lands, east of
St. Louis, and just north of where I-70 and I-270 and I-55 cross each other.
Reparations with a vengeance! The standard biography of Edward Coles was
written by congressman and member of one of the more remarkable political
families in American history, Elihu Washburne. We remember Washburne today
primarily because of his Civil War sponsorship of a man from Washburnes
home in Galena, Ulysses S. Grant.
Even after the anti-slavery vote, and like most free states, Illinois
continued to allow transit of slaves, en route from one slave state to
another. At the same time, the state legally allowed a slave holder to bring
slaves into the state to work a farm, as long as the slaves did not become
permanent residents. Slave owners satisfied the legal requirement by
importing slaves in the spring and taking them back to Kentucky or Missouri
for the winter.
Tom and Sarah Lincoln and their Hanks and Johnston cousins, you will recall,
moved to Coles County, on the edge of Egypt (and named for Edward Coles).
Coles County is about half way between Urbana and Effingham on I-59.
Although not part of the Eighth Circuit, which Lincoln followed, it was on
the edge and, given that his father and step-mother lived near the country
seat Charleston, Lincoln would come to Charleston when he was riding the
circuit, conduct some legal business and visit his relatives.
In 1847, in Charleston, Lincoln got involved in his only case where he
represented a salve owner attempting to recover an alleged fugitive. Robert
Matson of Kentucky had farmed land near Newman, then part of Coles County.
Each fall he would take the slaves back to Kentucky. Matson had a
year-round manager, an African-American named Anthony Bryant. Since Bryant
lived there full time, he was freed by virtue of his tenure. But his wife,
Jane Bryant, and their four children, were returned each winter to Kentucky.
In the fall of 1847, Bryant took his wife and children to Oakland and placed
them under the care of a pair of abolitionists, Gideon Ashmore and Dr. Hiram
Rutherford. Matson swore out a warrant for the return of the fugitives.
Under the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law, all Matson would have needed to do was go
before one of the Federal commissioners and swear they were all his slaves,
and that would have been the end of it. But on October 16, 1847, Ashmore
hired an attorney, Orlando Ficklin, who filed a writ of habeas corpus for
the return of the slaves, claiming that since Matson had allowed them to
winter over in Illinois, they were free. Matson retaliated by filing suit
against Ashmore and Rutherford for $2,000 for what was in essence, theft of
Usher Linder, Matsons attorney, asked Lincoln to draw up some of the legal
documents in the case, and attest the bond for costs. According to Ficklin,
writing in the 1870s, this was Lincolns only involvement.
Rutherford approached Lincoln to represent him, but Lincoln had to turn
Rutherford down, since he now had a conflict of interest.
The case was heard on October 16, 1847 (nothing slow about justice in those
days!) before two state supreme court justices, who rode the circuit as a
court of appeals (rather like U.S. Justice Taney was doing when he ruled in
ex parte Merryman).
Usher Linder argued that the U.S. Constitution created an obligation on the
part of Illinois to protect property of citizens of other states. Ficklin
countered, claiming the Northwest Ordnance as well as the state
constitution, made slavery illegal in Illinois. Lincoln, for his part,
agreed with Ficklin that, if the Bryants were residents, they became free
but since Matson had never declared the slaves were to become residents of
Illinois, the Bryants remained slaves. Ficklin always believed that Lincoln
s argument helped his case.
The justices ruled against Matson, assessing him costs and freeing the
Bryants. Matson immediately absconded home to Kentucky, stiffing Lincoln and
Linder of their fees, as well as the monies due to Ashmore and Rutherford.
The major result was that not only transit of slaves through Illinois was
now jeopardized, but the practice of bringing slaves in to work the land
To show how confused people could get about such things, Matsons attorney,
Linder, and Ficklin were both Democrats but Linder became a staunch War
Democrat although his son joined the Confederate army, was captured and
paroled by the President. Ficklin became a leading Illinois copperhead.
Although Lincoln had few ties and received few votes from the area he
had personal friends, who were also political enemies, people like Dr. John
Logan, a state representative from Jackson County on the lower Mississippi
River. In 1836, Abraham Lincoln, also a state representative, sponsored
legislation slicing a new county from Sangamon (Springfield) and naming it
for Dr. Logan.
Logan had a son, John Alexander Logan, named for his father and maternal
grandmother. After service in the Mexican War, the young John Logan followed
his father to the legislature, serving from 1852 to his election to Congress
in 1858. Logan was a good representative of the feelings and prejudices of
his are. He ran on a pro-slavery and Negrophobe candidacy, promising to push
for legislation to keep blacks, free or slave, out of the state. After a
hard fight, the result was the passing in 1853 of what came to be know as
Logans Nigger Laws. The laws prohibited the entry of blacks into the
state, with a $100 fine levied on the white who brought them in and
provisions for the black to be jailed and fined and if unable to pay the
fine and jail costs, the black could be forced to work off the expenses.
One result was that Missouri slaves quickly learned that freedom did not
exist immediately across the Mississippi although further North, opposite
Iowa, escaped slaves would find white friends. When the former antebellum
boy from Hannibal, Missouri came to write the finest novel in the English
language, Mark Twain used the presence of the Logan laws as a literary
excuse to have Huck and Jim go down the Mississippi, with the intention of
turning up the Ohio to freedom via the Underground railroad in Ohio. The
Logan laws remained on the Illinois books until their repeal in 1863.
And they helped fasten a nickname on the fiery Jack Logan: Black Jack
referred not only to his swarthy complexion but also his Negrophobe
Jumping ahead a few years, Logan would become one of the finest of the Civil
Wars amateur political generals, along with Missouris Frank Blair and
Louisianas Dick Taylor. And his politics would change, as he moved South.
When Vicksburg surrendered to Grant, Logan was appointed military governor
of the city, with responsibility for paroling the surrendered Confederates.
Logan discovered that when a Confederate officer brought his servant in
and Logan would ask the slave if the latter wanted to accompany the officer,
the black always answered yes as the Rebel officer was present. But when
interviewed separately the slaves opted for freedom and refused to go along
with their now former masters. Logan changed the interview process and
Pemberton complained bitterly to Grant however Grant supported Logan.
Logan even sent several blacks North to live on his farm a farm located
deep in Egypt.
For further reading:
James P. Jones, John A. Logan and Southern Illinois in the Civil War (1967
E.B. Washburne, Sketch of Edward Coles, Second Governor of Illinois, and of
the Slavery Struggle of 1823-24 (1882, reprint: 1969)
Paul Finkelman, Slavery and the Founders: Race and Liberty in the Age of
Paul Finkelman, An Imperfect Union : Slavery, Federalism, and Comity (1981)
N. Dwight Harris, The History of Negro Servitude in Illinois and of the
Slavery Agitation in That State, 1719-1864 (1904, reprinted 1969)
And, as I was finishing this up to post it, the March 2001 Civil War History
arrived and the lead article is on the topic
Suzanne Cooper Guasco, The Deadly Influence of Negro Capitalists:
Southern Yeomen and Resistance to the Expansion of Slavery in Illinois,
Civil War History (March, 2001), pp. 7-29. Guascos footnotes provide leads
to additional readings.
Judy and Bob Huddleston
10643 Sperry Street
Northglenn, CO 80234-3612
- Thanks for the great post, Bob, you have shed tremendous light on this
subject. How interesting that Abe himself was involved the court case
that ended the practice of " temporary slave labor" in Illinois, but
argued for the "wrong" side! I was mostly unsure of all of this and am
grateful for your post and will definitely save it, thanks again.
- mega dittos!
A really great informative post Thank you Bob!
--- In civilwarwest@y..., carlw4514@y... wrote:
> Thanks for the great post, Bob, you have shed tremendous light on
> subject. How interesting that Abe himself was involved the court
> that ended the practice of " temporary slave labor" in Illinois,
> argued for the "wrong" side! I was mostly unsure of all of this and
> grateful for your post and will definitely save it, thanks again.
--- In civilwarwest@y..., "Peter Mancini" <peter_mancini@m...> wrote:
You wrote: "Further only 3% or 6% of Southeners had slaves, why would the other over 90% care one way or the other if they were in non-combat roles?"
You statistics are faulty. The number was ten times that.
- Message text written by INTERNET:firstname.lastname@example.org
--- In civilwarwest@y..., "Peter Mancini" <peter_mancini@m...> wrote:
You wrote: "Further only 3% or 6% of Southeners had slaves, why would the
other over 90% care one way or the other if they were in non-combat roles?"
You statistics are faulty. The number was ten times that.<
The smallest figures on slaveholding are obtained by only counting the
actual title holder and not family and other dependents. In addition,
leasing slaves was a major source of labor for the lessors and income for
the lessees in the antebellum South. For instance, it was not at all
unusual for widows and/or children to be left slaves to be hired out in
order to provide the beneficiaries with an income. It also made it
possible for others who needed labor to obtain it when they either didn't
have a year round need for it or couldn't afford to buy a slave as prices
skyrocketed in the 1850s. Als, having slaves as a permanent undercaste
formed a "mudsill" (to use Hammond's phrase) above which all whites, no
matter how poor would be above.
Margaret D. Blough