Lt. Governor Sheila Simon is working to restore the reputations of Illinoisans who fought for freedom and equality. In honor of their courage and sacrifice, Simon will file petitions seeking clemency for Illinois abolitionists convicted for their fight against slavery. Please contact our office if you would like to suggest an abolitionist who might be eligible for clemency. Please call: (312) 814-5240, or email Sheila.Simon.Info@Illinois.gov.
Petitions in Progress:
Dr. Richard Eells, Central Illinois
Simon’s first clemency petition was filed on July 3 for Dr. Richard Eells, a central Illinois doctor who in 1843 was convicted of harboring a runaway slave. Eells, an abolitionist and Underground Railroad conductor, did not hesitate to assist a man who is known in court records only as “Charley,” a runaway slave from Missouri. While transporting Charley to safety, they were discovered by slave catchers. In April 1843, a jury found Dr. Eells guilty of harboring and secreting a slave, and unlawfully preventing the lawful owner from recovering the slave. His case was later heard by the United States Supreme Court, which upheld the original verdict.
Through his involvement in the Underground Railroad, Dr. Eells helped numerous slaves traveling through Quincy toward Chicago, and ultimately, to freedom in Canada. The National Parks Service has declared Dr. Eells’ Quincy home as one of the country’s 42 most important Underground Railroad sites, and the home is currently operated by the Friends of Dr. Richard Eells House.
View a copy of Dr. Eells clemency petition here.