On the border between slave society and free society a collection of ideologies mixed. The residents of Adams County, even before its inception on January 22, 1800, lived in a state of division that swirled and crashed against the omnipresent slavery conundrum. The "New World Renaissance" swept through Adams County in the 1830s bringing schools, public works, businesses, and most culturally significant, new ideas. These ideas would prove to be the fount from which flowed the waters of reform. As the first settlers had made good use of the physical creeks and streams that dotted their pastoral landscape, so too would they put to good use the waters of reform welling up all around them. From temperance to anti-masonry, these reform movements would lend a helping hand in the creation of the most socially progressive institution the county could harbor: an abolition society. However, the Adams County Anti-Slavery Society would be stunted along the way, allowing external pressures to beat back its radicalism. Because of this, the Adams County Anti-Slavery Society never fully realized its potential as a reform movement and degenerated into a Saturday Club, where radical statements might be made but never acted upon. It was here that a split occurred. There were two common paths that the membership took as they came to realize the fate of their anti-slavery organization. The first of these paths was acceptance. Many of the members had been in reform societies of some type before the Anti-Slavery Society. A large group of these individuals decided that a moderated reformism was better than no reformism and they perpetuated a version of the original society, keeping it well stocked and gentlemanly. The other path, taken by those touched with a deep fervor for reform culminates in the use of extra-legal means. The Underground Railroad. This path also bred a strong tradition of communal memory spun from its participant's perceived failure at abolition. This paper will discuss the machinations, myths, and memory of not only the Anti-Slavery Society, but also of the Underground Railroad, Yellow Hill community, and the people who made these organizations work.
"Righteousness, Reservation, Remembrance: Freedom-Loving Whites, Freedom-Seeking Blacks, and the Societies They Formed in Adams County,"
The Gettysburg Historical Journal: Vol. 7, Article 9.
Available at: https://cupola.gettysburg.edu/ghj/vol7/iss1/9