Presbyterians founded Illinois College, the first institute of higher learning in Illinois, in 1829. At the time of its incorporation in the Illinois General Assembly in 1835, there were 100 students. Due to its eastern evangelical roots, the college became a bastion of reform movements and abolitionism. Its first president, Edward Beecher, was a prominent abolitionist and brother to Henry Ward Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe. The college became a prominent stop on the Underground Railroad and students were occasionally prosecuted for their anti-slavery actions. Richard Yates was one of its first two graduates in 1835.
Charles Henry Rammelkamp, Illinois College: A Centennial History, 1829-1929 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1928); Newton Bateman and Paul Selby, eds., Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Mercer County, ed. by Wm. A. Lorimer (Chicago: Munsell, 1903), 291-92; Charles H. Rammelkamp, Illinois College and the Anti-Slavery Movement in Illinois (Springfield: Illinois State Journal, 1909); Illinois Senate Journal. 1835. 9th G. A., 1st sess., 337.