Date of Award

Fall 12-2004

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of History

First Advisor

Mark Wyman

Second Advisor

Amy Wood


By examining the original minutes of the Kane County Anti-Slavery Society (1842-1845), a profile of local abolitionists was created and conclusions were drawn about the motivations of antislavery men and women in Illinois. Instead of following the lead of the New England antislavery groups and splitting into separate sects, the Illinois abolitionists developed their own approach to fighting slavery by combining strategies of moral suasion, politics, and economic concerns. The men and women of the KCASS proved to bte a diverse group of people in terms of age and wealth, but were similar regarding place of origin and religion. They used various arguments to reason that slavery should be abolished, including: abiding by God's Divine Law, staying true to the Declaration of Independence, and keeping the west free from slavery. Instead of promoting antislavery on a single platform, such as within the church, the northern Illinois abolitionists used various routes to motivate more people into action. Politically, abolitionists joined the Liberty Party and vowed only to vote for antislavery candidates. Morally, they gave harsh criticism to those clergy who were not openly opposed to slavery. Many northern Illinois abolitionists also aided slaves directly, via the Underground Railroad. In addition, antislavery men and women worked together within the antislavery societies to devise strategies to end slavery and promote racial equality.

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