On April 22, 1840 Asa Turner Jr., pastor of the Congregational Church in Denmark, wrote to the “The Anti-Slavery Reporter” about abolitionist activity in southern Iowa.  “Letter from the Far West,” from the “Friend” Vol. 13, 1840, p. 326, reprinted from “The Anti-Slavery Reporter” below:

 

“Asa Turner Jr. of Denmark, Lee Co. Iowa Ter., writes to James G. Birney under date of April 22, 1840 that an Anti-Slavery Society has been founded at that place, and also at Salem, Henry County, Iowa Ter.  He says ‘our little church and society are almost to a man on the right side of this great question. As to the territory generally there is but little light, and less action on the subject.  We need some judicious and efficient men to lay before the people the nature of this abomination of abominations.  The inhabitants of Salem are mostly Quakers and many of them take a deep interest in the subject of slavery.  Last summer [1839] two slaves passed through Salem, and were soon overtaken by their pretended masters.  As they returned with the fugitives, some inquired by what authority they were carrying away these men captives, and called upon them to show their authority.  The justice was sent for, and the trial was about to commence, but the black boys chose to take leg bail.  So they poor men stealers had to return without their prey.  A few weeks after the slaves discovered themselves to their new “Friends,” who undertook to help them on their way to the land of liberty.  Two hundred dollars were offered for the apprehension of the fugitives.  Three Quakers set out with the two runaways, in a covered wagon.  Four men, armed, waylaid them, and demanded the salves on pain of death.  No resistance was made, and the poor men were taken to Missouri, one of them was immediately sold to go down the river.  For this act the perpetrators received $200.  Three or four are professors of religion, and two of them officers in the Methodist Church!  The Quakers were apprehended and tried under the black law of the territory, and fined $500.  The laws of the territory are much the same as in Ohio and Illinois—making it the duty of the county commissioners to apprehend and sell every black man who has no free papers, and imposing a fine of $500 on any one who shall aid one of these outcasts in obtaining the birthright given by heaven.’

“Asa Turner communicates the following heartrending fact.  ‘A black man in Missouri married a free woman, who now lives at Quincy, Ill.  His master told him, if he would pay him $1200 he should have his liberty.  Being a good blacksmith he went to work and in there years paid the amount, but last fall he came over to see his wife, joicing to think he was soon to breathe with her the air of liberty.  He returned to Missouri for his free papers.  His mater was offered $1800 for him, which he accepted, and in a day or two, instead of returning to his wife, he was on his way in chains to New Orleans’.”  

 

Excerpts from The Anti-Slavery Reporter,  obtained from the research notes of Lewis D. Savage.