Woodcut printed in black ink on thin laid Japanese paper, 1934 or 1935.
From a series of 10 woodcuts titled A History of Illinois in Woodcuts.
Edition unknown but clearly small.
Signed in pencil.
This is Turzak’s own comment about this composition: “Illinois votes to remain a free state at Vandalia, August Second, 1824. An election was held to decide whether a convention should be called to consider a new constitution that would permit slavery in the state of Illinois.”.
Edward Coles, the second governor of Illinois, who was vehemently opposed to slavery, was inaugurated in December 1822. As the son of a wealthy slave-holding family in Virginia, he was a close associate of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Coles served as private secretary to Madison from 1809 to 1815. As governor he led the effort to defeat slavery in Illinois once and for all. On August 2nd 1824 Illinois rejected an amendment to the constitution that would have made slavery legal, in large part thanks to Coles tireless efforts and financial backing. Turzak depicts this pivotal moment in Illinois’ history with the dramatic choice posed to all free men in the state, who mercifully chose freedom over exploitation.