Thayer's Note: When the various counties are mentioned, the boundaries of which changed constantly thruout the period covered by this book, it may be useful to you, as it was to me, to refer to Michael L. Hébert's excellent page of maps, Illinois County Boundaries 1790‑Present.
The figures in the accompanying table [p319], except where otherwise indicated, are the result of a careful checking up of extant schedules. Most of the commissioners who attempted to foot up the totals made errors of addition. The census of Franklin County had not been taken when the secretary made his report in June. The enumerator for Madison County appended to his schedule the following statements: "I beg leave further to state from good information that there are at
Makeing in the whole 5466 Souls within the boundury of Madison County."
These 980 reputed inhabitants are not included in the schedule total but are included in the secretary's report and presumably in the final report to the convention. The schedule for St. Clair County has been burned in part and the figures given represent only what remains intact. Italics [Thayer Note: in this Web transcription, for readability, colored font] are used to indicate incomplete totals due to missing or incomplete schedules. The total of the secretary's report is a correct addition of the figures and is ten less than his total of the same figures as given in Intelligencer, June 17, 1818. The report to the convention is printed in the Illinois State Historical Society, Journal, 6:359.
Edward Coles, in 1865, wrote that slavery "formed a prominent topic in the political discussions of Illinois previous to its becoming a State" and "at a very early period in the settlement of Illinois, the question was warmly agitated by zealous advocates and opponents of slavery." Letter quoted by Lippincott in his "Early Days in Madison County, no. 28.
The claim has been made that James Lemen, a Virginian, having made a secret compact with Jefferson to work for the exclusion of slavery in Illinois, came out for that purpose in 1786 and founded the settlement of New Design. During the Indiana period he is said to have exerted himself to prevent the success of the advocates of the introduction of slavery. From 1796 on, Lemen "was active in the promotion of Baptist churches and a Baptist Association." In 1808 he was licensed as a preacher and in the following year led a movement which led in the disruption of the association on the slavery question and the organization of "Bethel Baptist Church" on a strict antislavery basis. A document purporting to be a copy of an account written by Reverend John Mason Peck in 1851 states that the members of this church p318"formed what they called 'The Illinois Anti-Slavery League,' and it was this body that conducted the anti-slavery contest. It always kept one of its members and several of its friends in the Territorial Legislature, and five years before the constitutional election in 1818 it had fifty resident agents — men of like sympathies — in the several settlements throughout the territory quietly at work, and the masterly manner in which they did their duty was shown by a poll which they made of the voters some few weeks before the election, which, on their side only varied a few votes from the official count after the election." MacNaul, Jefferson-Lemen Compact, 7‑25, 36.
The authenticity of this document and of all the so‑called "Lemen family notes," only transcripts of which appear to be in existence, is very doubtful; and no other evidence has been found of the existence of an "Illinois Anti-Slavery League" in the territorial period.
The claim has been made in a document purporting to have been written by Reverend John Mason Peck in 1857 that the plan was first suggested by Reverend James Lemen, Sr., reputed to have been an influential champion of freedom during the territorial period. It is said that he "had a government surveyor make a map showing the great advantages and gave them to Nathaniel Pope." MacNaul, Jefferson-Lemen Compact, 37‑38, 55. Until more authentic evidence is presented the credit for the amendment must remain with Pope. If the slavery question was a factor in the matter, it is quite possible that Pope's nephew, Daniel Pope Cook, may have had a hand in it. As early as February 4, 1818, in a communication over the signature "A republican" in the Intelligencer he took a strong antislavery position, not merely with reference to Illinois, but for the nation as a whole; and in the issue of April 1, he presented a strong argument against the expediency or legality of providing for the toleration of slavery in the new constitution. Cook may have conferred with Pope in Washington in February or March, 1818, for, on January 6, he announced his intention of leaving Kaskaskia in the course of 15 or 20 days for Richmond, Washington, Philadelphia, and possibly New York. He could not have reached Washington, however, before the date of Pope's letter announcing his intention to work for the northern extension.
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Illinois in 1818
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