Prelude to the Civil War

Snippets of the cultural clashes in western Illinois between settlement and the Civil War.

Galesburg and Knox College

founded in 1837 by a group of social reformers
strongly opposed slavery (physical, spiritual, intellectual)
believed deeply everyone’s potential to grow and contribute
Gale was indicted for harboring fugitive slaves
Samuel Wright, trustee – active in Underground Railroad

Jacksonville and Illinois College

Congregational students at Yale University formed a “Yale Band”: Revs. John M. Ellis, Theron Bladwin, John F. Brooks, Mason Grosvenor, Albert Hale, Elisha Jenney, William Kirby, Julian M. Sturtevant, Asa Turner

Illinois College: Edward Beecher, Julian M. Sturtevant, Jonathan Turner

Rev. John M. Ellis

  • Presbyterian missionary in Illinois
  •  dreamed of college in Illinois

Edward Beecher

  • left his position at the Park Street Church in Boston to become President at Illinois College
  •  New England traditions and academic foundations
  • brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin,
  • brother, of Henry Ward Beecher
  • outspoken opponent of slavery

Sturtevant’s Biography:

“Although not specially evident in this first group of members (the founders of Presbyterian Church in Morgan Co, IL) it becomes more & more noticeable that the great majority of early members were Southerners and mostly from Kentucky.  This gives emphasis to the remarks of Pres. Sturtevant that sharp conflicts were inevitable in the attempt that was being made to impress New England ideas and systems of education and theology on this community which at first was mainly southern in its sympathies.” Sturtevant’s autobiography.

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