Ottawa, Illinois

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Ottawa is a city located at the confluence of the Illinois River and Fox River in LaSalle County, Illinois, USA. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 18,307. It is the county seat of LaSalle County and it is part of the Ottawa-Streator Micropolitan Statistical Area, which was the 259th-most populous area in the United States in 2007.[2][3]



Ottawa was the site of the first of the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858. During the Ottawa debate Stephen A. Douglas, leader of the Democratic Party, openly accused Abraham Lincoln of forming a secret bipartisan group of Congressmen to bring about the abolition of slavery.[4]

The John Hossack House was a "station" on the Underground Railroad; Ottawa being a major stop, because of its rail, road and river transportation.[5] Citizens in the city were active within the abolitionist movement. Ottawa was the site of a famous 1859 abduction of a runaway slave named Jim Gray, from a courthouse by prominent civic leaders of the time. Three of the civic leaders, John Hossack, Dr. Joseph Stout and James Stout, later stood trial in Chicago for violating the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850.[6]

Ottawa was also important in the development of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, which terminates in LaSalle, Illinois, 12 miles to the west. The canal linked the Mississippi River to Chicago and Lake Michigan, in the 19th century.

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