Galesburg, IL – Rich Egger's guest is Owen Muelder, Director of the Galesburg Colony Underground Railroad Freedom Center at Knox College. They talk about Muelder's new book, Theodore Dwight Weld and the American Anti-Slavery Society.
Muelder said Weld was a significant figure in the abolitionist movement during the 1830s. He recruited a group of men who became known as "The 70" to deliver anti-slavery speeches throughout the North.
Muelder said some of "The 70" were well-known during their time, but most are names people today would not recognize. Muelder decided to write the book because he wanted to determine who these people were.
"Frankly, digging out information about some of them was rather difficult because for the most part most of those names have been lost to history," Muelder said.
Muelder became interested in Weld and "The 70" during research for his previous book, The Underground Railroad in Western Illinois.
"I began to see more and more references to who some of these underground railroad operators were," Muelder said.
He said a number of "The 70" settled in western Illinois as America expanded westward. One of "The 70" was Jonathan Blanchard, who served as the second president of Knox College.
Muelder said "The 70" faced danger. He said mobs sometimes attacked the speakers. Some were beaten so badly that they were never the same physically.
However, none of them were killed during these attacks, and most lived long enough to see slaves freed when the North defeated the South in the American Civil War.