Book Chat: Attempting Democracy

July 30th, 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm

Two hundred years ago, on August 2, 1824, Illinois conducted the most consequential election in its history. The election would determine if Illinois became an unrestricted 'slave state'. The election came about when the legislature passed a joint resolution calling for the people, at the next general election, to approve holding a constitutional convention to modify the 1818 Constitution. The six-year-old constitution contained nebulose language regarding slavery, that was inserted to avoid congressional debate when reviewing Illinois petition for statehood. The proslavery elements were strong, contained the majority in the legislature, and felt confident the citizens would approve holding a convention. The opposition was organized, well-funded, and led by the new governor Edward Coles, a newly arrived easterner who have served both Presidents Madison and Monroe. The campaign lasted 18 months and was controversial and violent. The campaign also presented a challenge for the new self-rule democracy - the people deciding the direction of government.

You're invited to "brown bag it" and join Bernard Sieracki for his special lunch hour presentation on Tuesday, July 30, from Noon-1pm in the ALPLM library's multi-purpose room as he reviews the 1824 campaign, the colorful characters involved, and the future consequences for Illinois regarding slavery.

This is a free program. Advance registration is not required.


Bernard Sieracki was an Illinois lobbyist for forty years. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois-Chicago. Upon retirement he taught as an adjunct professor at UIC. He is the author of "A Just Cause: The Impeachment and Removal of Governor Rod Blagojevich," and is currently finishing "Attempting Democracy" about the Illinois Legislature in the 19th Century.

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