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Title:Citizen Soldiers
Author(s):Heinzel, Sally
Abstract:During the Civil War, Illinois soldiers could not legally vote while deployed.Undeterred, some troops conducted their own polling. These ballots from the First Illinois Light Artillery demonstrate the ingenuity of soldiers forging a link between their dual roles as citizens and soldiers. From their camp at Memphis, Tennessee,in July of 1862, members of Battery F marked their approval or disapproval of the revised state constitution on individual squares of paper, which were then connected together with a piece of twine and sent back home to the Secretary of State. Though disenfranchised, Illinois troops played an influential role in politics and law on the home front. Stories of their encounters with slaves and the peculiar institution were circulated among family members and printed in hometown newspapers. Many northern soldiers became the earliest proponents of emancipation and helped radicalize their civilian counterparts. My project explores this process by examining the ways in which the Civil War led to the dismantling of racially oppressive legislation in Illinois. Just months before the war ended, Illinois legislators repealed some of the states most extreme black laws, including the prohibitions against African American migration and testimony, demonstrating that emancipation had national repercussions.
Issue Date:2014-05
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 Sally Heinzel
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-05-16

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