Learn about antislavery activism in early Illinois with Coffee Talk

  • Augustus, a Des Plaines resident and antislavery pastor, and Betsey Conant. The Des Plaines History Center is hosting a virtual Coffee Talk about antislavery activism in Illinois on Thursday Dec. 10.

    Augustus, a Des Plaines resident and antislavery pastor, and Betsey Conant. The Des Plaines History Center is hosting a virtual Coffee Talk about antislavery activism in Illinois on Thursday Dec. 10. Courtesy of Des Plaines History Center

 
Submitted by Audrey M. Birkner, Des Plaines History Center
Posted12/4/2020 10:56 AM

The Des Plaines History Center is pleased to announce that Caroline Kisiel, historian and educator, will be presenting "Antislavery Activism on the Frontier: The Story of the English Prairie" as a virtual Coffee Talk at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 10.

The program tells the almost forgotten story of the English Prairie settlement in early Illinois and how it played an important role in keeping Illinois from slavery. This will be a free virtual program presented over Zoom; registration is required. Instructions on how to access the program are available at desplaineshistory.org/virtual.

 

Kisiel's work describes how Morris Birkbeck and George Flower established two towns in Southern Illinois, with Flower establishing Albion in 1818. Their thriving community drew scores of English and American settlers, forming one of the most important early statehood settlements.

But Birkbeck and Flower, who sought open prairies and a slave-free area, soon came to realize that "for all practical purposes, this part of the Territory was as much a slave state as any of the states south of the Ohio River."

This historical presentation takes a critical look at George Flower's discussions of slavery, free Blacks, and their community's efforts toward the antislavery cause -- all set against a backdrop of tense differences with regard to slavery on the Illinois frontier.

All members of the public are welcome to attend this presentation. The History Center's Coffee Talks are a series of adult programs meant to invite public participation and discussion on a broad range of historical topics.

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This program is sponsored by the Illinois Humanities' Road Scholars program, which aims to strengthen the social, political, and economic fabric of Illinois through constructive conversation and community engagement.

For information, visit www.desplaineshistory.org.

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