Who was Nance Legins-Costley?
Outside of official court filings, genealogy, and some (rare) contemporary journalism, we know sadly little about this woman who represents such an important part of Illinois history, and Lincoln's early stance on slavery.
However, her personal details, while interesting, pale in comparison to her determination and persistence in fighting for her freedom - starting when she was just 13 years old.
To the people of Illinois at the time, this would have been shocking not just because of her age or gender, but also because in most states then, slaves wouldn't even have been allowed to do what she did.
Nance needs to be remembered and celebrated as the early feminist hero she truly was. It is the author's hope that putting Nance's story into a format suitable for young adults will help it reach the widest possible audience.
More about Nance Legins-Costley, and Nance: Trials of the First Slave Freed by Abraham Lincoln.
- Portraits (Page 1 & Page 2)
- Timeline of events that shaped Nance's case, and slavery in Illinois.
- Nance Genealogy.
- Rare contemporary mention of Nance.
- Sample content from Nance: Trials of the First Slave Freed by Abraham Lincoln.
- Contemporary opinions of Lincoln and the case that won Nance her freedom.
- Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society article by the author.
- Abraham Lincoln Association article by the author.
- Huffington Post interview with Carl Adams.
- Abraham Lincoln Association article about finding the grave of Nance's son.