To view the February 2, 2010 interview of Tom by WTTW Channel 11's Phil Ponce on Chicago Tonight click here.

To listen to an Interview of Tom Campbell about Fighting Slavery in Chicago on Eight Forty Eight,  Chicago Public Radio on February 5, 2009, click HERE.

To listen to Tom's web interview about Fighting Slavey in Chicago at the Lincoln Park Book Shop on March 28, 2009, click 


What people who have read the book have to say:

“New England did not have a monopoly on abolitionism. Campbell masterfully reveals a resourceful circle of activists who made Chicago their base. This group influenced Lincoln, but the courage of Charles Volney Dyer and other Chicago abolitionists stands on its own as a proud chapter in the struggle against slavery.”

Gary Johnson, President, The Chicago History Museum

“Tom Campbell gives the clearest account of the role of Chicago’s abolitionists as they fought the Fugitive Slave Law and furthered Lincoln’s political career.  Lincoln’s positions on slavery, often misunderstood, are fully explained against the political and legal realities of the time. These are valuable contributions to history and make the book a must-read. But it is the story of abolitionist Dr. Charles V. Dyer, his bravery and humor, that ignite these pages. I vote to rename Halsted Street, where Dr. Dyer lived, in his honor.”

Eileen Mackevich, Executive Director, Abraham Lincoln Commission

"Chicago became an important place for Abraham Lincoln throughout his entire political career. From his attendance at the River and Harbor Convention, to speaking at Market Hall against the extension of slavery in 1854, also having his photograph taken while holding an abolitionist newspaper, and to setting the schedule with Stephen Douglas for their senatorial debates, Chicago was a magnet for Lincoln. Tom Campbell has written a significant work on Chicago’s contributions to the ending of The Peculiar Institution.”

Daniel Weinberg, Proprietor, Abraham Lincoln Book Shop, Inc., Chicago, Illinois

“Thomas Campbell reveals an important but largely unvisited part of Abraham Lincoln’s life. Campbell makes history read like action/adventure which is one reason Lincoln is now more popular than ever. Add a heretofore missing piece of Lincoln’s career.”

Bill Kurtis, Journalist and President, Kurtis Productions


Note from the Author:

After eight years of researching and writing, I was fortunate to connect with Suzie Isaacs and her publishing company,  Ampersand, Inc.  Suzie shared my vision for what this book should look like and helped locate the most appropriate historical photographs and other illustrative material. I particularly like the fact that the  illustrations appear in the text where they are discussed (as opposed to being bunched together in an insert, Oreo Cookie fashion).  While the book is well researched (as reflected by its over 600 footnotes), I hope you will agree that it is still highly readable and an  engaging story. 

If you have questions for me, or have information about any of the topics in the book that you would like to share with me, please send an email to:

Fighting Slavery in Chicago

Abolitionists, the Law of Slavery, and Lincoln

Home Page

Thank you for visiting the web site Fighting Slavery in Chicago.  This web site will provide you with information about the book, how to order a copy, what others who have read it have to say, information about the author, Tom Campbell, and provide you with an email address to communicate with him.


Charles Volney Dyer came to Chicago in 1835 as the physician to the garrison at Fort Dearborn. Outraged at the assassination of abolitionist editor, Elijah Lovejoy, in Alton, Illinois, he rallied Chicagoans to form the Chicago chapter of the Anti-Slavery Society. With the Society, he operated the Illinois station of the Underground Railroad that freed over one thousand slaves.

Illinois was a free state. Yet a form of slavery still existed in Illinois. There were recurring cases in court involving the rights of slaves, slaveholders and people who dealt with that form of “property.” The Dred Scott decision further advanced the States’ Rights position.

Tracing Dyer’s activities from 1835 to 1865 sweeps in the many players and steps in the fight against slavery. Dyer was a delegate to the convention that endorsed Lincoln to run for Stephen Douglas’s senate seat and he was present when Lincoln gave his rousing “House Divided Speech.” Dyer was a founder of the anti-slavery political parties – the Liberty Party, the Free Soil Party and ultimately was a founder of the Republican Party.

Lincoln is immortalized as the Great Emancipator and Dyer and the Chicago abolitionists played a significant role in pushing slavery down the road to its ultimate extinction.


Tom Campbell is a partner in the Chicago office of Baker & McKenzie LLP where he focuses on the trial of antitrust actions and business disputes.

Mr. Campbell has always nurtured a thirst for Illinois history, especially the trials and tribulations of Chicago’s abolitionists who ran the Underground Railroad and helped Lincoln to be elected. The fact that Illinois had a form of slavery, and that before the Civil War the courts of Illinois were called upon to decide cases involving the rights of slave owners, their creditors, and fugitives from slavery, is a chapter in the history of Illinois that has largely gone unexplored to-date.

One of the skills of a trial lawyer is explaining complicated ideas in simple terms. This was something Lincoln excelled at and something Tom Campbell has emulated in explaining his arguments in both his book and in practice.

The author received an A.B. from Dartmouth College and a J.D. from Cornell University. He has practiced law for over 30 years.


Fighting Slavery is now available in paperback and can be ordered from almost any bookstore (ISBN is 978-0981812656).

You can order the book on the internet from Barnes & Noble  (Click HERE) or Amazon (Click HERE).

Ampersand recently announced a price change.  The hard cover is now available for $20.00.  Alternatively you can send a personal check for USD 20.00  to Ampersand, Inc., 1050 North State Street, Chicago, IL 60610. 

The ISBN number for the hard cover is 978-0-9818126-2-5.

Website Builder