Illinois Debates Slavery, 1819-1824 | Newberry

Illinois Debates Slavery, 1819-1824

Led by Joseph S. Harrington
Thursday, June 16, 2022
Two sessions. Thursdays, June 16-June 23



Register Now

To register multiple people for this class, please go through the course calendar in Learning Stream, our registration platform. When you select the course and register, you’ll be prompted to add another registrant.

Seminar Description

The fate of Chicago, the Midwest, and perhaps our entire country hinged on the outcome of a momentous debate in the early years of Illinois, when legislators sought to revise the state’s constitution to allow slavery. A spirited response by Gov. Edward Coles and other anti-slavery voices barely prevented this from happening.

This seminar will review arguments made on both sides, and the role Coles and others played in promoting antislavery nationalism.

Joseph S. Harrington holds a master’s degree in history from the University of Connecticut and has led seminars at The Newberry since 2008.

Materials List


  • Suzanne Cooper Guasco, Confronting Slavery: Edward Coles and the Rise of Antislavery Politics in Nineteenth-Century America. (Northern Illinois University Press, 2013). ISBN: 978-0-87580-689-1

First Reading:

  • No first reading assignment

Cost and Registration Information 

Two sessions. Registration: $120 ($108 for Newberry members, seniors, and students)

Please note: You’ll register for this class on a platform called Learning Stream. Questions? Contact us at

Register for this class now.