Gov. Quinn Grants Clemency To Three Abolitionists

(CBS) — Governor Quinn has added three more names to his clemency list, men convicted of what were then crimes more than 170 years ago.

The three were convicted in the early 1800s. Their crimes: harboring fugitive slaves traveling the Underground Railroad.

Illinois had abolished slavery by 1824 but assisting runaway slaves was still illegal, even in free states.

Chuck Schultz, the former mayor of Quincy, Ill., says Dr. Richard Eels was one such abolitionist, a man who helped hundreds of runaway slaves.

“He was found guilty here and fought his case for over a decade and to the United States Supreme Court,” Schultz said. “He was actually dead when they finally decided his case and of course he lost.”

Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon says harboring slaves in the early 1800s was a risky thing to do.

“The recognition of the clemency granting today I think is a great recognition and a great way to call attention to some heroes in Illinois’ past,” Simon said.

The governor also granted clemency to Julius and Samuel Willard, who were both convicted of harboring a fugitive slave in 1843.

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