We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

The Black Struggle for Public Schooling in Nineteenth-Century Illinois

Robert L. McCaul

Publication Year: 2009

In the pre-Civil War and Civil War periods the Illinois black code deprived blacks of suffrage and court rights, and the Illinois Free Schools Act kept most black children out of public schooling.


But, as McCaul documents, they did not sit idly by. They applied the concepts of “bargaining power” (rewarding, punishing, and dialectical) and the American ideal of “community” to participate in winning two major victories during this era.


By the use of dialectical power, exerted mainly via John Jones’ tract, The Black Laws of Illinois, they helped secure the repeal of the state’s black code; by means of punishing power, mainly through boycotts and ‘‘invasions,’’ they exerted pressures that brought a cancellation of the Chicago public school policy of racial segregation.


McCaul makes clear that the blacks’ struggle for school rights is but one of a number of such struggles waged by disadvantaged groups (women, senior citizens, ethnics, and immigrants). He postulates a “stage’’ pattern for the history of the black struggle—a pattern of efforts by federal and state courts to change laws and constitutions, followed by efforts to entice, force, or persuade local authorities to comply with the laws and constitutional articles and with the decrees of the courts.

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press

Title Page

pdf iconDownload PDF (10.9 KB)

Copyright Page

pdf iconDownload PDF (24.5 KB)
p. 5-5


pdf iconDownload PDF (13.8 KB)
pp. v

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (201.7 KB)
pp. vii-x

The larger question I have addressed is this: why, how, and with what success do disadvantaged groups within our society make use of the available sources of power in their struggles to win an equal share of the rights...

read more

1. Coping with Exclusion

pdf iconDownload PDF (860.2 KB)
pp. 1-16

After the English had stacked their arms at Yorktown and the last strains of "The World Turned Upside Down" had died away, the Continental Congress would come into possession of some 170,000,000 acres of virgin forest...

read more

2. Black Efforts at the State Level

pdf iconDownload PDF (863.7 KB)
pp. 17-32

In the antebellum and bellum periods the principal leaders of the Illinois blacks were John Jones, James D. Bonner, Henry O. Wagoner, the Reverend Byrd Parker, Reuben H. Rollins, and William Johnson. All of these were Chicagoans...

read more

3. White Efforts at the State Level

pdf iconDownload PDF (584.3 KB)
pp. 33-43

During the early years of the antebellum period the chief, nonpolitical, white organization lending some assistance to the black cause was the Illinois State Antislavery Society. Founded on October 28, 1837, the Society established...

read more

4. Exclusion at the Local Level

pdf iconDownload PDF (588.0 KB)
pp. 44-54

In any consideration of the interplay between statewide imposition by General Assemblies and local freedom of decision-making by district officials, it should be remembered that the Illinois school laws applying to the entire state did not prescribe or...

read more

5. Segregation in Chicago

pdf iconDownload PDF (943.7 KB)
pp. 55-72

The appearance of racially segregated schooling in Chicago in 1863 was the result of forces boiling up within a city undergoing the urbanizing process with a speed and on a scale with which Americans had had no previous experience. Strain to the...

read more

6. Winning Suffrage

pdf iconDownload PDF (898.7 KB)
pp. 73-89

Despite the collaboration between Illinois blacks and whites that had brought about the repeal of the black laws and revision of the Chicago charter, there still remained a question of whether that cooperation would continue into the years immediately following the...

read more

7. Partidipating in Mainstream Community Life

pdf iconDownload PDF (942.1 KB)
pp. 90-107

The assurance of receiving suffrage rights now that the 15th Amendment of the federal constitution had been ratified and Article 7, Section 1, of the proposed state constitution favorably introduced in the convention was celebrated in April...

read more

8. Gaining Access to Public Schools

pdf iconDownload PDF (998.8 KB)
pp. 108-126

The question perplexing the writer of the editorial in the Democratic Cairo Bulletin quoted in the last chapter was this: What steps should be taken in performing the imperative and important duty of furnishing public schooling for blacks, now...

read more

9. Illinois Supreme Court Opinions in School Segregation Cases

pdf iconDownload PDF (869.4 KB)
pp. 127-142

It will be of interest to learn what arguments and what decisions on the issue of public-school rights for blacks were offered in the courts, those sanctuaries created by the community to ensure that its disputes will be resolved by the application...

read more

10. Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

pdf iconDownload PDF (746.0 KB)
pp. 143-156

By now it is hardly necessary to repeat that the larger question I have had in mind is "How have disadvantaged groups within our society tried to secure the benefits and rights the society has granted to others, not to them?" I have taken the...


pdf iconDownload PDF (591.4 KB)
pp. 159-170


pdf iconDownload PDF (684.4 KB)
pp. 171-184


pdf iconDownload PDF (429.9 KB)
pp. 185-193

Author Bio

pdf iconDownload PDF (13.2 KB)

Back Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF (134.2 KB)

E-ISBN-13: 9780809380534
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809329052

Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2009