The Black Laws in the Old Northwest: A Documentary History

By Stephen Middleton | Go to book overview
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II
Militia Policy

Illinois barred African Americans from its militia primarily because of racial prejudice. Illinois lawmakers, as other whites in the Old Northwest, were aware of the exemplenary military service rendered by Africans in colonial wars. Yet, through constitutional and legislative means the state ignored their service record and reserved the militia for "free white male inhabitants." This policy was consistent with the rest of the state's racial code.


NUMBER 1

Constitution of Illinois, Article 5, 1818.

Section 1. The militia of the state of Illinois shall consist of all free male able bodied persons, (negroes, mulattoes and Indians excepted,) resident of the state, between the ages of eighteen and forty-five years, (except such persons as now are, or hereafter may be exempted by the laws of the United States or of this State,) and shall be armed, equipped, and trained as the general assembly may provide by law.


NUMBER 2

Constitution of Illinois, Article 8, 1848.

Section 1. The militia of the state of Illinois shall consist of all free male able-bodied persons, (negroes, mulattoes and Indians excepted,) resident of the state, between the ages of 18 and 45 years, except such persons as now are or hereafter may be exempted by the laws of the United States or of this state,

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