Civil and Legal Rights
Congress adopted legislation to protect the legal rights of African Americans after the Civil War. Most northern states, including Illinois, also adopted civil rights laws. In most cases, Illinois made only token gestures of its commitment to racial equality. For example, Illinois law provided equal access to public accommodations, including restaurants, theaters, and inns. The state also prescribed penalties for residents who violated the legal rights of anyone solely on account for race, ancestry, or previous condition of servitude. Citizens convicted of such an act could be fined up to $500 or imprisoned. Illinois made these declarations so long as they were in vogue at the federal level. When federal protections for civil rights receded during the late nineteenth century, Illinois lawmakers retreated as well. Illinois, therefore, entered the twentieth century as a rigidly segregated state.
Educating persons of color. Approved February 18, 1857, Session Laws.
Section 80. In townships in which there shall be persons of color, the board of trustees shall allow such persons a portion of the school fund equal to the amount of taxes collected for school purposes from such persons of color in their respective townships.