July 24, 2013
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois' lieutenant governor is seeking clemency for two Jacksonville-area abolitionists.
Sheila Simon on Tuesday filed petitions with the Illinois Prisoner Review Board on behalf of Samuel Willard and his father, Julius. They were convicted in 1843 of harboring a fugitive slave.
Illinois residents voted to abolish slavery in 1824. But both Illinois and federal law prohibited the harboring or assisting of runaway slaves in free states. As part of the effort to honor abolitionists who fought for equality, Simon's office has invited local historians around the state to identify men and women who were convicted of violating slavery laws. The idea was brought to her by Quincy historians.
Simon is asking the public to contact her office to recommend additional clemency requests for individuals convicted for their abolitionist activities.