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Journal of Illinois History features

Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation and the 'Indian problem'     Send a link to a friend

[APRIL 30, 2004]  SPRINGFIELD -- Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, Pope and Johnson County organizer Hamlet Ferguson, and Ulysses S. Grant's "Indian problem" are featured in the latest issue of the Journal of Illinois History, a scholarly publication about the state's history.

"Understanding Emancipation: Lincoln's Proclamation and the End of Slavery," is written by renowned Lincoln scholar and author Allen C. Guelzo, who has written "Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President" and "Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America."

In the journal article, Guelzo examines Lincoln as a politically savvy leader who is committed to emancipation but carefully weighs the best way to achieve it. Guelzo addresses the modern criticisms that the Emancipation Proclamation didn't go far enough, or wasn't issued soon enough, by arguing that the proclamation was part of an ongoing process by a president committed to freeing African-Americans held in slavery.

Hamlet Ferguson, a southern Illinois settler who made a name for himself in the history of early Illinois, is the subject of another article.

Ferguson migrated to Golconda (in what is now Illinois) from Kentucky in 1796. He quickly rose in political prominence, serving as justice of the peace, a major in the militia and organizer of the new county of Johnson. Ferguson was selected a justice and sheriff of both Johnson and Pope counties. He was elected a Pope County delegate to the 1818 constitutional convention that would lead directly to Illinois being admitted as a state.

Ferguson's contribution to the early history of southern Illinois is recognized by the town of Hamletsburg in Pope County.

The article was written by Gillum Ferguson -- no relation to Hamlet -- an assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago.

The westward migration and displacement of Native Americans during Ulysses S. Grant's tenure as president are the subject of another article.

While in California and Oregon as an Army officer in 1852-1854, Grant observed gold-digging squatters displacing Indians and wrote to his wife, "It is really my opinion that the whole race (American Indians) would be harmless and peaceable if they were not put upon by the whites."


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Later, as commander of Union armies during the Civil War and eventually as president, Grant implemented policies that virtually ended the nomadic lifestyle of the western Indian nations but possibly saved them from total annihilation. President Grant, having seen what happened in the eastern United States, felt placing western Indians on reservations was the only way to help them survive.

Assisting Grant during his struggle with the Indian question was Ely S. Parker, a full-blooded Iroquois Indian whom Grant had met in Galena and who served on Grant's staff in the Civil War and later as President Grant's commissioner of the Office of Indian Affairs.

The article was written by Scott L. Stabler, a doctoral candidate in history at Arizona State University who recently completed a research and editing fellowship with the "Papers of Abraham Lincoln," a project of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.

The Journal of Illinois History is the foremost publication for readers who value documented research on the state's history. It features articles, book reviews, essays and bibliographies that have been reviewed by some of the country's leading historians.

The journal is published by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. Subscriptions are $18 per year for four issues.

To obtain a sample copy, contact Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, Publications Section, 1 Old State Capitol Plaza, Springfield, IL 62701; or call (217) 524-6045.

[Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
news release]

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