the outbreak of the Civil War
, the slavery question was now and then obtruding itself as an irritating and perplexing element into the local legislation of almost every new State.
, though guaranteed its freedom by the Ordinance of 1787, nevertheless underwent a severe political struggle in which, about four years after her admission into the Union
, politicians and settlers from the South
made a determined effort to change her to a slave State.
The legislature of 1822-23, with a two-thirds pro-slavery majority of the State Senate, and a technical, but legally questionable, two-thirds majority in the House
, submitted to popular vote an act calling a State convention to change the constitution.
It happened, fortunately, that Governor Coles
, though a Virginian, was strongly antislavery, and gave the weight of his official influence and his whole four years salary to counteract the dangerous scheme.
From the fact that southern Illinois
up to that time was mostly peopled from the slave States, the result was seriously in doubt through an active and exciting campaign, and the convention was finally defeated by a majority of eighteen hundred in a total vote of eleven thousand six hundred and twelve.
While this result effectually decided that Illinois
would remain a free State, the propagandism and reorganization left a deep and tenacious undercurrent of pro-slavery opinion that for many years manifested itself in vehement and intolerant outcries against “abolitionism,” which on one occasion caused the murder of Elijah P. Lovejoy
for persisting in his right to print an antislavery newspaper at Alton
Nearly a year before this tragedy the Illinois legislature had under consideration certain resolutions from the Eastern States
on the subject of slavery, and the committee to which they had been referred reported a