A sub-issue of why Jim did not go through Illinois, relates to the career of
"Black Jack" Logan, politician, Civil War general and Radical Republican.
He was born and raised in Southern Illinois, "Egypt," and ran for the state
legislature in 1852 on a campaign to pass a Negro Exclusion Act. The 1848
Illinois state constitution prohibited black voting and service in the
militia and ordered the legislature to pass laws prohibiting entry of Free
Blacks into the state. After a raucous debate, Logan's act passed in the
I have always supposed this provided the legal excuse for Jim and Huck to
try for freedom in Ohio rather than in Illinois.
Logan went onto Congress, hesitated over which side to support in the Civil
War (his brother-in-law was captain of a band of Egyptians which joined the
Confederate army, becoming the only organized group of people from a Free
State to militarily support secession.) Finally Logan came down against
secession and raised a regiment in Egypt, allegedly claiming he would resign
if the War for the Union became a War against Slavery.
But Logan flip flopped and by 1863, was on the way to becoming a Radical
Republican. His Division led Grant's Army into Vicksburg and he prevented
Confederates leaving the city from taking their slaves (or, to be accurate,
now ex-slaves) with them.
And his nick-name, "Black Jack" may have referred to his dark complexion -
or to his support for African-American exclusion from the Prairie State.
Which ever, Logan neatly helped Mark Twain with plot development.