ILLINOIS STATE ARCHIVES
From the Ashes, 1872-1900
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives
PETITION OF THE BAPTIST UNION MISSION TO USE COUNCIL CHAMBERS SUNDAY EVENINGS
July 1, 1874
Of the Baptist, Congregational, Methodist Episcopal, Presbyterian, and Protestant Episcopal churches, the five largest protestant denominations in Chicago in the early 1870s, only the Baptists had a congregation of 1,000 or more. Blacks at this time were concentrated in the South Division along Clark and Dearborn Streets. The black population was fewer than 3,600 in 1870; 6,480 in 1880; 14,271 in 1890; and 30,150 in 1900. Blacks were employed chiefly as unskilled laborers, waiters and domestic servants.
The second Civil Rights Act was passed by Congress on May 1, 1875. By its provisions no citizen's color could be used to deny him equal use of public facilities such as streetcars, hotels and restaurants. Additionally no citizen could be prevented arbitrarily from serving on juries. However, all federal troops assigned to protect blacks in the defeated South were removed two years later as a provision of the Compromise of 1877. And in 1896 the United States Supreme Court held constitutional the doctrine of "separate but equal" in its classic Plessy v Ferguson decision.
Points to Consider
What were the goals and objectives of the Baptist missionaries?
Why were the Baptist missionaries requesting to use the council's chambers instead of a church?
Which kinds of jobs would these black young people have held "at the various hotels?"
Is education a prerequisite to the enjoyment of equal rights? Why?