History show Quincy men pushed for anti slavery society

The Underground Railroad helped thousands of slaves make it to freedom before and during the Civil War.

Anti slavery movements, underground railroad conductors and stations along the routes were the lynchpins that made it such a success.

"Quincy was the creation really of the anti-slavery society in Illinois," Reg Ankrom, the executive director of the Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County said.

That was back in the early 1830s.

A group of Quincy men that included Asa Turner and Willard Keyes decided slavery was something they couldn't support.
Both Turner and Keyes had lived on the East Coast where there was no slavery.

So when the issue came up in West Central Illinois, several men from Quincy and Adams County joined Turner and Keyes in opposing slavery.

"Yeah it was really a strong movement here in Quincy and it's partially explained by the culture of Quincy. So you had an amalgamation of cultures, many of them were opposed to slavery, philosophically and morally," Ankrom said.

The formation of the anti-slavery movement is shown here in these documents from the Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County.

The state's first anti-slavery society had a board of seven managers.
All seven seats were filled by men from Quincy and Adams County.

The document that officially formed the anti-slavery movement in 1837 featured signatures from 237 men.

Seventy-one of those were from the Quincy area.

"I think the area had an influence on the state but also on the nation," Ankrom said.

The Illinois Underground Railroad started at the southern tip of the state.
Slaves made their way north from Cairo, to Alton and onto Quincy.

"Asa Turner had started it in 1830 and by 1835 it was fully organized and fugitives were escaping, finding refuge in Quincy and moving on to places like Princeton, Jacksonville, which would take people on to Canada and freedom," Ankrom added.

That movement led more men to join the society which eventually led the abolition of slavery across the U.S.

In part, because a group of men from Quincy opposed the slavery issue the early 1830s.

Quincy had the only anti-slavery society in the State of Illinois from 1830 to 1836.
And it was in 1837 when the state wide society was formed.