The Fugitive Slave Law and Its Victims Anti-Slavery Tracts No. 18
FUGITIVE SLAVE LAW
AMERICAN ANTI-SLAVERY SOCIETY,
138 NASSAU STREET, NEW YORK.
ANTI-SLAVERY TRACTS. No. 18.
* * * * *
THE FUGITIVE SLAVE LAW, AND ITS VICTIMS.
* * * * *
The Fugitive Slave Law was enacted by Congress in September, 1850,
received the signature of HOWELL COBB, [of Georgia,] as Speaker of
the House of Representatives, of WILLIAM R. KING, [of Alabama,] as
President of the Senate, and was "approved," September 18th, of that
year, by MILLARD FILLMORE, Acting President of the United States.
The authorship of the Bill is generally ascribed to James M. Mason,
Senator from Virginia. Before proceeding to the principal object of
this tract, it is proper to give a synopsis of the Act itself, which
was well called, by the New York Evening Post, "An Act for the
Encouragement of Kidnapping." It is in ten sections.
SYNOPSIS OF THE LAW.
SECTION 1. United States Commissioners "authorized and required to
exercise and discharge all the powers and duties conferred by this
SECT. 2. Commissioners for the Territories to be appointed by the
Superior Court of the same.
SECT. 3. United States Circuit Courts, and Superior Courts of
Territories, required to enlarge the number of Commissioners, "with
a view to afford reasonable facilities to reclaim fugitives from
SECT. 4. Commissioners put on the same footing with Judges of the
United States Courts, with regard to enforcing the Law and its
SECT. 5. United States Marshals and deputy marshals, who may refuse
to act under the Law, to be fined One Thousand dollars, to the use
of the claimant. If a fugitive escape from the custody of the
Marshal, the Marshal to be liable for his full value. Commissioners
authorized to appoint special officers, and to call out the posse
SECT. 6. The claimant of any fugitive slave, or his attorney, "may
pursue and reclaim such fugitive person," either by procuring a
warrant from some judge or commissioner, "or by seizing and
arresting such fugitive, where the same can be done without
process;" to take such fugitive before such judge or commissioner,
"whose duty it shall be to hear and determine the case of such
claimant in a summary manner," and, if satisfied of the identity of
the prisoner, to grant a certificate to said claimant to "remove
such fugitive person back to the State or Territory from whence he
or she may have escaped,"--using "such reasonable force or restraint
as may be necessary under the circumstances of the case." "In no
trial or hearing under this act shall the testimony of such alleged
fugitive be admitted in evidence." All molestation of the claimant,
in the removal of his slave, "by any process issued by any court,
judge, magistrate, or other person whomsoever," to be prevented.
SECT. 7. Any person obstructing the arrest of a fugitive, or
attempting his or her rescue, or aiding him or her to escape, or
harboring and concealing a fugitive, knowing him to be such, shall
be subject to a fine of not exceeding one thousand dollars, and to
be imprisoned not exceeding six months, and shall also "forfeit and
pay the sum of one thousand dollars for each fugitive so lost."
SECT. 8. Marshals, deputies, clerks, and special officers to receive
usual fees; Commissioners to receive ten dollars, if fugitive is
given up to claimant; otherwise, five dollars; to be paid by
SECT. 9. If claimant make affidavit that he fears a rescue of such
fugitive from his possession, the officer making the arrest to
retain him in custody, and "to remove him to the State whence he
fled." Said officer "to employ so many persons as he may deem
necessary." All, while so employed, be paid out of the Treasury of
the United States.
Sect. 10. [This Section provides an additional and wholly distinct
method for the capture of a fugitive; and, it may be added, one of
the loosest and most extraordinary that ever appeared on the pages
of Statute book.] Any person, from whom one held to service or labor
has escaped, upon making "satisfactory proof" of such escape before
any court of record, or judge thereof in vacation--a record of
matter so proved shall be made by such court, or judge, and also a
description of the person escaping, "with such convenient certainty
as may be;"--a copy of which record, duly attested, "being produced
in any other State, Territory, or District," and "being exhibited to
any judge, commissioner, or other officer authorized," &c. "shall be
held and taken to be full and conclusive evidence of the fact of
escape, and that the service or labor of the person escaping is due
to the party in such record mentioned;" when, on satisfactory proof
of identity, "he or she shall be delivered up to the claimant."
"Provided, That nothing herein contained shall be construed as
requiring the production of a transcript of such record as evidence
as aforesaid; but in its absence, the claim shall be heard and
determined upon other satisfactory proofs competent in law."
The name of the NORTHERN men who voted for this cruel kidnapping law
should not be forgotten. Until they repent, and do works meet for
repentance, let their names stand high and conspicuous on the roll
of infamy. Let the "slow-moving finger of scorn" point them out,
when they walk among men, and the stings of shame, disappointment,
and remorse continually visit them in secret, till they are forced
to cry, "my punishment is greater than I can bear." As to the
Southern men who voted for the law, they only appeared in their
legitimate character of oppressors of the poor--whom God will repay,
in his own time. The thousand-tongued voices of their brother's
blood cry against them from the ground.
The following is the vote, in the SENATE, on the engrossment of the
YEAS,--Atchison, Badger, Barnwell, Bell, Berrien, Butler,
Davis (of Mississippi), Dawson, A.C. DODGE (of Iowa), Downs,
Foote, Houston, Hunter, JONES (of Iowa), King, Mangum, Mason,
Pearce, Rusk, Sebastian, Soul?, Spruance, STURGEON (of
Pennsylvania), Turney, Underwood, Wales, Yulee.--27.
NAYS.--Baldwin, Bradbury, Chase, Cooper, Davis (of
Massachusetts), Dayton, Henry Dodge (of Wisconsin), Greene,
Smith, Upham, Walker, Winthrop.--12.
ABSENT, OR NOT VOTING.--Benton, Borland, Bright of Indiana,
Clarke of Rhode Island, Clay, Cass of Michigan, Clemens,
Dickinson of New York, Douglas of Illinois, Ewing of
Ohio, Felch of Michigan, Hale of New Hampshire, Hamlin
of Maine, Miller of New Jersey, Morton, Norris of New
Hampshire, Phelps of Vermont, Pratt, Seward of New York,
Shields of Illinois, Whitcomb of Indiana. [Fifteen
Northern Senators absent from the vote.]
On the final passage of the Bill in the Senate, the yeas and nays
were not taken. D.S. Dickinson of New York, who had been absent
when the vote was taken on the engrossment, spoke in favor of the
bill. Mr. Seward was said to be absent from the city, detained by
When the Bill came up in the HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, (September
12th,) JAMES THOMPSON of Pennsylvania, got the floor,--doubtless by
a previous understanding with the Speaker,--and addressed the House
in support of the Bill. He closed his remarks by moving the
previous question! It was ordered, and thus all opportunity for
reply, and for discussion of the Bill was cut off. The Bill was then
passed to its third reading--equivalent to enactment--by a vote of
109 YEAS, to 75 NAYS; as follows:--
Maine.--THOMAS J.D. FULLER, of Calais; ELBRIDGE GERRY, of
Waterford; NATHANIEL S. LITTLEFIELD, of Bridgton.
New Hampshire.--HARRY HIBBARD, of Bath; CHARLES H. PEASLEE,
Massachusetts.--SAMUEL A. ELIOT, of Boston.
New York.--HIRAM WALDEN, of Waldensville.
New Jersey.--ISAAC WILDRICK, of Blairstown.
Pennsylvania.--MILO M. DIMMICK, of Stroudsburg; JOB MANN,
of Bedford; J.X. MCLANAHAN, of Chambersburg; JOHN ROBBINS,
Jr., of Philadelphia; THOMAS ROSS, of Doylestown; JAMES
THOMPSON, of Erie.
Ohio.--MOSES HOAGLAND, of Millersburg; JOHN K. MILLER, of
Mount Vernon; JOHN L. TAYLOR, of Chillicothe.
Michigan.--ALEXANDER W. BUELL, of Detroit.
Indiana.--NATHANIEL ALBERTSON, of Greenville; WILLIAM J.
BROWN, of Amity; CYRUS L. DUNHAM, of Salem; WILLIS A. GORMAN,
of Bloomington; JOSEPH E. MCDONALD, of Crawfordsville; EDWARD
W. MCGAUGHEY, of Rockville.
Illinois.--WILLIAM H. BISSELL, of Belleville; THOMAS L.
HARRIS, of Petersburg; JOHN A. MCCLERNAND; WILLIAM A.
RICHARDSON, of Quincy; TIMOTHY R. YOUNG, of Marshall.
Iowa.--SHEPHERD LEFFLER, of Burlington.
[All these Northern Traitors called themselves Democrats! save
three--Eliot of Massachusetts, Taylor of Ohio, and McGaughey
of Indiana, who were Whigs.]
--> Every Representative of a Slaveholding State, who voted at all,
voted YEA. Their names are needless, and are omitted.
Maine.--Otis, Sawtelle, Stetson.
New Hampshire.--Amos Tuck.
Vermont.--Hebard, Henry, Meacham.
Massachusetts.--Allen, Duncan, Fowler, Mann.
Rhode Island.--Dixon, King.
Connecticut.--Butler, Booth, Waldo.
New York.--Alexander, Bennett, Briggs, Burrows, Gott,
Gould, Halloway, Jackson, John A. King, Preston King,
Matteson, McKissock, Nelson, Putnam, Rumsey, Sackett,
Schermerhorn, Schoolcraft, Thurman, Underhill, Silvester.
New Jersey.--Hay, King.
Pennsylvania.--Calvin, Chandler, Dickey, Freedley, Hampton,
Howe, Moore, Pitman, Reed, Stevens.
Ohio.--Cable, Carter, Campbell, M.B. Corwin, Crowell,
Disney, Evans, Giddings, Hunter, Morris, Root, Vinton,
Indiana.--Fitch, Harlan, Julian, Robinson.
Wisconsin.--Cole, Doty, Durkee.
ABSENT, OR NOT VOTING.
Andrews, Ashmun (Mass.), Bokee, Brooks, Butler, Casey,
Cleveland (Conn.), Clarke, Conger, Duer, Gilmore, Goodenow,
Grinnell (Mass.), Levin, Nes, Newell, Ogle, Olds, Peck,
Phoenix, Potter, Reynolds, Risley, Rockwell (Mass.), Rose,
Schenck, Spaulding, Strong, Sweetser, Thompson (Iowa), Van
Dyke, White, Wilmot (Penn.) [33--all Northern men.]
[Fifteen Southern Representatives did not vote.]
DANIEL WEBSTER was not a member of the Senate when the vote on the
Fugitive Slave Bill was taken. He had been made Secretary of State,
a short time previous. All, however, will remember the powerful aid
which he gave to the new compromise measures, and among them to the
Fugitive Slave Bill, in his notorious Seventh of March Speech,
[1850.] A few extracts from that Speech will show how heavily the
responsibility of the existence of this law rests upon DANIEL
"I suppose there is to be found no injunction against
that relation [Slavery] between man and man, in the
teachings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or of any of his
Apostles."--Webster's 7th March Speech, (Authorized
Edition,) p. 9.
"One complaint of the South has, in my opinion, just
foundation; and that is, that there has been found at
the North, among individuals and among legislators, a
disinclination to perform, fully, their Constitutional duties
in regard to the return of persons bound to service, who have
escaped into the free States. In that respect, it is my
judgment that the South is right, and the North is wrong."
* * * * "My friend at the head of the Judiciary Committee
[Mr. MASON of Virginia] has a bill on the subject now before
the Senate, with some amendments to it, WHICH I PROPOSE
TO SUPPORT, WITH ALL ITS PROVISIONS, to the fullest
extent."--Idem. p. 29.
He proceeded to assure the Senate that the North would, on
due consideration, fulfil "their constitutional obligations"
"with alacrity." "Therefore, I repeat, sir, that here is a
ground of complaint against the North well founded, which
ought to be removed, which it is now in the power of the
different departments of this Government to remove; which
calls for the enactment of proper laws authorizing the
judicature of this Government, in the several States, to do
all that is necessary for the recapture of fugitive slaves,
and for the restoration of them to those who claim them
Wherever I go, and whenever I speak on the subject, and when
I speak here, I desire to speak to the whole North, I say
that the South has been injured in this respect, and has a
right to complain; and the North has been too careless of
what, I think, the Constitution peremptorily and emphatically
enjoins upon her as a duty."--Idem. p. 30.
In a speech in the United States Senate, July 17, 1850, made with an
evident view to calm that Northern feeling which had been aroused
and excited by his 7th of March speech, beyond the power of priest
or politician wholly to subdue, Mr. WEBSTER said there were various
misapprehensions respecting the working of the proposed Fugitive
"The first of these misapprehensions," he said, "is an
exaggerated sense of the actual evil of the reclamation of
fugitive slaves, felt by Massachusetts and the other New
England States. What produced that? The cases do not exist.
There has not been a case within the knowledge of this
generation, in which a man has been taken back from
Massachusetts into slavery by process of law, not one."
* * * * "Not only has there been no case, so far as I can
learn, of the reclamation of a slave by his master, which
ended in taking him back to slavery, in this generation, but
I will add, that, as far as I have been able to go back in my
researches, as far as I have been able to hear and learn, in
all that region there has been no one case of false claim.
* * * There is no danger of any such violation being
perpetrated."[A]--Webster's Speech on the Compromise Bill, in
the United States Senate, 17th of July, 1850, edition of
Gideon & Co., Washington, pp. 23-25.
[Footnote A: See also Mr. Webster's letter to the Citizens of
Newburyport, dated May 15th, 1850, wherein he urges the same
point, with great pains of argument.]
With such words did Mr. Webster endeavor to allay Northern alarm,
and to create the impression (which was created and which prevailed
extensively with his friends) that the Fugitive Law was only a
concession to Southern feeling, and that few or no attempts to
enforce it were likely to be made.
But when a few months had proved him a false prophet, and the
Southern chase after fugitive men, women, and children had become
hot and fierce, and in one or two instances the hunter had been
foiled in his attempts and had lost his prey, Mr. Webster changed
his tone, as follows:--
In May, 1851, at Syracuse, N.Y., he said: "Depend upon it,
the Law [the Fugitive Slave Law] will be executed in its
spirit and to its letter. It will be executed in all the
great cities--here in Syracuse, in the midst of the next
Anti-Slavery Convention, if the occasion shall arise."
Certainly, so far as in Mr. Webster lay, so far as was in the power
of Mr. Fillmore, and the officers of the United States Government
generally, and of the still larger crowd of expectants of office,
nothing was left undone to introduce the tactics, discipline, and
customs of the Southern plantation into our Northern cities and
towns, in order to enforce the Fugitive Law.
* * * * *
The remainder of this Tract will be devoted to a record, as complete
as circumstances enable us to make, of the VICTIMS OF THE FUGITIVE
SLAVE LAW. It is a terrible record, which the people of this country
should never allow to sleep in oblivion, until the disgraceful and
bloody system of Slavery is swept from our land, and with it, all
Compromise Bills, all Constitutional Guarantees to Slavery, all
Fugitive Slave Laws. The established and accredited newspapers
of the day, without reference to party distinctions, are the
authorities relied upon in making up this record, and the dates
being given with each case, the reader is enabled to verify the
same, and the few particulars which the compass of the Tract allows
to be given with each. With all the effort which has been made to
secure a good degree of completeness and exactness, the present
record must of necessity be an imperfect one, and fall short of
exhibiting all the enormities of the Act in question.
JAMES HAMLET, of New York, September, 1850, was the first
victim. He was surrendered by United States Commissioner
Gardiner to the agent of one Mary Brown, of Baltimore, who
claimed him as her slave. He was taken to Baltimore. An
effort was immediately made to purchase his freedom, and in
the existing state of the public feeling, the sum demanded by
his mistress, $800, was quickly raised. Hamlet was brought
back to New York with great rejoicings.
Near Bedford, Penn., October 1. Ten fugitives, from
Virginia, were attacked in Pennsylvania--one mortally
wounded, another dangerously. Next morning, both were
captured. Five others entered a mountain hut, and begged
relief. The woman supplied their wants. Her husband went out,
procured assistance, captured the slaves, and received a
reward of $255.
Harrisburg, Penn., October. Some slaves, number not
stated, were brought before Commissioner M'Allister, when
"the property was proven, and they were delivered to their
masters, who took them back to Virginia, by railroad, without
Detroit, 8th October. A negro was arrested under the new
law, and sent to jail for a week, to await evidence. Great
numbers of colored people armed themselves to rescue him.
Result not known.
HENRY GARNETT, Philadelphia, arrested as the slave of
Thomas P. Jones, of Cecil County, Maryland, and taken before
Judge Grier, of the United States Supreme Court, October 18,
1850, who declared his determination to execute the law as he
found it. The Judge said that the claimant had not taken the
course prescribed by the fugitive act, and proceeded to
explain, in a detailed manner, what the course should be in
such cases. As the claimant thus failed to make out his case,
the prisoner was ordered to be discharged.
Boston, about 25th October. Attempt to seize WILLIAM and
ELLEN CRAFT. William Craft armed himself, and kept within
his shop. Ellen was concealed in the house of a friend.
Their claimants, named Hughes & Knight, were indicted for
defamation of character, in calling W.C. a slave, and brought
before a magistrate. The feeling excited against them was so
great, that they at length fled from the city. Shortly after,
it being considered hazardous for Mr. and Mrs. Craft to
remain in the country, they were enabled to escape to
[In a letter, dated Macon, Georgia, Nov. 11, John Knight
gives a particular account of the proceedings and experiences
of himself and his friend Hughes, on their then recent visit
to Boston for the purpose, to quote his own language, "of
re-capturing William and Ellen Craft, the negroes belonging
to Dr. Collins and Ira Taylor." Willis H. Hughes also
published his statement.]
New Albany, Indiana. A woman and boy given up, and taken to
Louisville. They were so white that, even in Kentucky, a
strong feeling arose in their favor on that ground. They were
finally bought for $600, and set free.
ADAM GIBSON, Philadelphia, December 21, 1850. Surrendered
by Edward D. Ingraham, United States Commissioner. The case
was hurried through in indecent haste, testimony being
admitted against him of the most groundless character. One
witness swore that Gibson's name was Emery Rice. He was taken
to Elkton, Maryland. There, Mr. William S. Knight, his
supposed owner, refused to receive Gibson, saying he was not
the man, and he was taken back to Philadelphia.
What compensation has the United States Government ever made to Adam
Gibson, for the injurious act of its agent, Ingraham? Had not the
Slaveholder been more honorable than the Commissioner or the makers
of the Fugitive Law, Gibson would have been in Slavery for life.
HENRY LONG, New York, December, 1850. Brought before
Commissioner Charles M. Hall, claimed as the fugitive slave
of John T. Smith of Russell County, Virginia. After five or
six days' proceedings, there being some doubt of the
Commissioner's legal right to act, the alleged fugitive,
Long, was taken before Judge Judson, District Judge of the
United States. The Castle Garden Union Safety Committee
retained Mr. George Wood in this case, as counsel for the
slave claimant. Long was surrendered by Judge Judson, and
taken to Richmond, Virginia. Judge J. was complimented by the
Washington Union as "a clear-headed, competent, and
independent officer, who has borne himself with equal
discretion, liberality, and firmness. Such judges as he,"
continues the Union, "are invaluable in these times of
turmoil and agitation." At Richmond, Long was advertised to
be sold at public auction. On Saturday, January 18th, he was
sold, amid the jeers and scoffs of the spectators, for $750,
to David Clapton, of Georgia. The auctioneers (Pullam &
Slade), in commencing, said there was one condition of the
sale. Bonds must be given by the purchaser that this man
shall be carried South, and that he shall be kept South, and
sold, if sold again, to go South; and they declared their
intention to see the terms fully complied with. Long was
subsequently advertised for sale at Atlanta, Georgia.
Near Coatsville, Chester County, Penn. On a writ issued by
Commissioner Ingraham, Deputy Marshal Halzell and other
officers, with the claimant of an alleged fugitive, at night,
knocked at the door of a colored family, and asked for a
light to enable them to mend their broken harness. The door
being opened for this purpose, the marshal's party rushed in,
and said they came to arrest a fugitive slave. Resistance was
made by the occupant of the house and others, and the
marshal's party finally driven off--the slave owner advising
that course, and saying, "Well, if this is a specimen of the
pluck of Pennsylvania negroes, I don't want my slaves back."
The master of the house was severely wounded in the arm by a
pistol shot; still he maintained his ground, declaring the
marshal's party should not pass except by first taking his
Marion, Williamson County, Ill., about December 10, 1850.
Mr. O'Havre, of the city police, Memphis, Tennessee, arrested
and took back to Memphis a fugitive slave, belonging to Dr.
Young. He did so, as the Memphis paper states, only "after
much difficulty and heavy expense, being strongly opposed by
the Free Soilers and Abolitionists, but was assisted by Mr.
W. Allen, member of Congress, and other gentlemen."
Philadelphia, about January 10, 1851. G.F. Alberti and
others seized, under the Fugitive Slave Law, a free colored
boy, named JOEL THOMPSON, alleging that he was a slave. The
boy was saved.
STEPHEN BENNETT, Columbia, Penn., arrested as the slave of
Edward B. Gallup, of Baltimore. Taken before Commissioner
Ingraham; thence, by habeas corpus, before Judge Kane. He
was saved only by his freedom being purchased by his friends.
The Huntsville (Ala.) Advocate, of January 1, 1851, said
that Messrs. Markwood & Chester had brought back "seven of
their Slaves" from Michigan.
The Memphis (Tenn.) Eagle, of a later date, says that
within a few weeks "at least five fugitive slaves have been
brought back to this city, from free States, with as little
trouble as would be had in recovering stray cows." The same
paper adds, "We occasionally receive letters notifying us
that a slave, said to be the property of some one in this
vicinity, has been lodged in jail in Illinois or Indiana, for
his owner, who will please call, pay charges, and take him
In Boston, end of January, 1851. A colored man, lately from
North Carolina, was sought by officers, under Marshal Devens,
aided by a lawyer, named Spencer, provided by the New York
Union Safety Committee. The arrest was not attempted. It was
found that the colored man was too strongly guarded and
Mrs. TAMOR, or EUPHEMIA WILLIAMS, Philadelphia, February,
1851, mother of six children, arrested and brought before
Commissioner Ingraham, as the slave Mahala, belonging to
William T.J. Purnell, of Worcester County, Maryland, admitted
to have been absent since 1829--twenty-two years. Children
all born in Pennsylvania; oldest about seventeen--a girl. Her
husband also in custody, and alleged to be the slave of
another man. Under writ of habeas corpus, Mrs. Williams was
taken before Judge Kane, of the United States Circuit Court.
After a full hearing, she was discharged, as not being the
SHADRACH, in Boston, February 15, 1851. Arrested in Taft's
Cornhill Coffee House, by deputies of United States Marshal
Devens, on a warrant issued by George T. Curtis, United
States Commissioner, on the complaint of John Caphart,
attorney of John De Bree, of Norfolk, Va. Seth J. Thomas
appeared as counsel for Caphart. After a brief hearing before
G.T. Curtis, Commissioner, the case was adjourned to the
following Tuesday. Shortly after the adjournment, the
court-room was entered by a body of men, who bore away the
prisoner, Shadrach. After which he was heard of in Montreal,
Canada, having successfully, with the aid of many friends,
escaped the snares of all kidnappers, in and out of Boston.
The acting President, MILLARD FILLMORE, issued his
proclamation, countersigned by DANIEL WEBSTER, Secretary of
State, requiring prosecutions to be commenced against all who
participated in the rescue.
Shawneetown, Illinois. A woman was claimed by Mr. Haley,
of Georgia, as his slave; and was delivered up to him by two
Justices of the Peace, (early in 1851.)
Madison, Indiana. George W. Mason, of Davies County,
Kentucky, arrested a colored man, named MITCHUM, who, with
his wife and children, lived near Vernon. The case was tried
before a Justice of the Peace, named Basnett, who was
satisfied that Mitchum was Davis's slave, and had left his
service nineteen years before. The slave was accordingly
delivered up, and was taken to Kentucky, (Feb. 1851.)
Clearfield County, Penn., about 20th January, 1851. A
boy was kidnapped and taken into slavery.--Mercer (Pa.)
Near Ripley, Ohio. A fugitive slave, about January 20,
killed his pursuer. He was afterwards taken and carried back
Burlington, Lawrence County, Ohio, near the end of February,
1851, four liberated slaves were kidnapped, re-enslaved, and
sold. Efforts were made to bring the perpetrators of this
nefarious act to punishment, and restore the victims to
At Philadelphia, early in March, 1851, occurred the case of
the colored woman HELEN or HANNAH, and her son, a child of
tender years. She was taken before a Commissioner, and
thence, by writ of habeas corpus, before Judge Kane. An
additional question arose from the fact that the woman would
soon become the mother of another child. Judge Kane decided
that she was the property of John Perdu, of Baltimore,
together with her son, and her unborn child, and they were
all surrendered accordingly, and taken into slavery.
Pittsburg, March 13, 1851. RICHARD GARDINER was arrested in
Bridgewater, Beaver County, Pennsylvania, claimed as the
property of Miss R. Byers, of Louisville, Kentucky. Judge
Irwin, of the United States District Court, "remanded the
fugitive back to his owner." He was afterwards bought for
$600, and brought into a free State.
The Wilmington (Del.) Journal, in March, 1851, says
kidnapping has become quite frequent in that State; and
speaks of a negro kidnapped in that city, on the previous
Wednesday night, by a man who had been one of the city
THOMAS SIMS, arrested in Boston, April 4, 1851, at first on
pretence of a charge of theft. But when he understood it was
as a fugitive from slavery, he drew a knife and wounded one
of the officers. He was taken before Commissioner George T.
Curtis. To guard against a repetition of the Shadrach rescue,
the United States Marshal, Devens, aided by the Mayor (John
P. Bigelow) and City Marshal (Francis Tukey) of Boston,
surrounded the Court House, in Boston, with heavy chains,
guarded it by a strong extra force of police officers, with a
strong body of guards also within the building, where the
fugitive was imprisoned as well as tried. Several military
companies also were called out by the city authorities, and
kept in readiness night and day to act against the people,
should they attempt the deliverance of Sims; Faneuil Hall
itself being turned into barracks for these hirelings of
slavery. Every effort was made by S.E. Sewall, Esq., Hon.
Robert Rantoul, Jr., and Charles G. Loring, Esq., to save
Sims from being returned into slavery, and Boston from the
eternal and ineffaceable disgrace of the act. But in vain.
The omnipotent Slave Power demanded of Boston a victim for
its infernal sacrifices. Millard Fillmore, Daniel Webster,
and their numerous tools, on the Bench, in Commissioners'
seats, and other official stations, or in hopes of gaining
such stations bye and bye, had fallen upon their faces
before the monster idol, and sworn that the victim should
be prepared. Thomas Sims was ordered back to slavery by
Commissioner G.T. Curtis, and was taken from the Court House,
in Boston, early on the morning of April 11th, [1851,] to the
Brig Acorn, lying at the end of Long Wharf, and thence in the
custody of officers, to Savannah, Georgia.
There, after being lodged in jail, and severely and cruelly
whipped, as was reported, he was at length sold, and became
merged and lost in the great multitude of the enslaved
population. The surrender of Sims is said to have cost the
United States Government $10,000; the City of Boston about as
much more; and Mr. Potter, the claimant of Sims, about
$2,400, making a total of some $22,000, directly expended on
Vincennes, Indiana, April, 1851. Four fugitive slaves were
seized, claimed by one Mr. Kirwan, of or near Florence,
Alabama. The magistrate, named Robinson, gave up the
fugitives, and they were taken into slavery.
In Salisbury Township, Penn., April, 1851, an elderly man
was kidnapped and carried into Maryland.
Near Sandy Hill, Chester County, Penn., in March, 1851, a
very worthy and estimable colored man, named Thomas Hall, was
forcibly seized, his house being broken into by three armed
ruffians, who beat him and his wife with clubs. He was
MOSES JOHNSON, Chicago, Illinois, brought before a United
States Commissioner, discharged as not answering to the
description of the man claimed.
CHARLES WEDLEY, kidnapped from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and
taken into Maryland. He was found, and brought back.
Cincinnati, Ohio, June 3, 1851, an attempt to arrest a
fugitive was made. But a scuffle ensued, in which the man
Cincinnati, Ohio. About the same time, some slaves, (number
not stated,) belonging to Rev. Mr. Perry and others, of
Covington, Kentucky, were taken in Cincinnati, and carried
back to Kentucky.
Philadelphia, end of June, 1851, a colored man was taken
away as a slave, by steamboat. A writ of Habeas Corpus was
got out but the officer could not find the man. This is
probably the same case with that of JESSE WHITMAN, arrested
FRANK JACKSON, a free colored man in Mercer, Penn., was
taken, early in 1851, by a man named Charles May, into
Virginia, and sold as a slave. He tried to escape, but was
taken and lodged in Fincastle jail, Virginia.
THOMAS SCOTT JOHNSON, free colored man, of New Bedford, was
arrested near Portsmouth, Virginia, and was about to be sold
as a slave; but, by the strenuous interposition of Capt.
Card, certificates were obtained from New Bedford, and he was
set at liberty.
ELIZABETH WILLIAMS, West Chester County, Penn., delivered
into slavery by Commissioner Jones. (July, 1851.)
DANIEL HAWKINS, of Lancaster County, Penn., (July, 1851,)
was brought before Commissioner Ingraham, Philadelphia, and
by him delivered to his claimant, and he was taken into
New Athens, Ohio, July 8, 1851. Eighteen slaves, who had
escaped from Lewis County, Kentucky, were discovered in
an old building in Adams County, Ohio. Some white men,
professing to be friendly, misled them, and brought them to a
house, where they were imprisoned, bound one by one, and
carried back to Kentucky. [The enactment of the Fugitive
Slave Law is the direct stimulating cause of all these cases
Buffalo, August, 1851. Case of DANIEL ----. D. was a cook
on board the steamer "Buckeye State." He was engaged in his
avocation, when Benj. S. Rust, with a warrant from United
States Commissioner H.K. Smith, went on board the boat.
Daniel was called up from below, and as his head appeared
above the deck, Rust struck him a heavy blow, upon the head,
with a large billet of wood, which knocked him back into the
cook-room, where he fell upon the stove and was badly burned.
In this state, he was brought before the Commissioner,
"bleeding profusely at the back, of the head, and at the
nose, and was moreover so stupefied by the assault, that he
fell asleep several times during the brief and very summary
proceedings." For most of the time he was unable to converse
with his counsel, and "sat dozing, with the blood slowly
oozing out of his mouth and nostrils." After a very hurried
form, and mockery of a trial, Daniel was ordered to be
delivered to Rust, the Agent of George H. Moore, of
Louisville, Kentucky. By a writ of Habeas Corpus, Daniel
was brought before Judge Coakling, of the United States
Court, at Auburn, who gave a decision that set Daniel at
liberty, and he was immediately hurried by his friends into
Canada. Rust was indicted, in Buffalo, for his brutal assault
on Daniel. It was fully proved; he afterwards plead guilty,
and; was let off with the paltry fine of fifty dollars.
JOHN BOLDING, arrested in Poughkeepsie, New York, claimed
as the property of Barret Anderson, of Columbia, S.C. Bolding
was a young man, of good character, recently married, and had
a small tailor's shop in P. He said he was told, when a boy,
that he was the son of a white man. He was tried before
United States Commissioner Nelson, who ordered him to be
delivered up to his claimants, and he was taken quietly from
the city to Columbia, S.C. The sum of $2,000 was raised in
New York, and paid to Bolding's owner, who had consented to
take that sum for him, and Bolding returned to his family in
Christiana, Lancaster County, Penn., Sept. 1851. Edward
Gorsuch, (represented as a very pious member of a Methodist
Church in Baltimore,) with his son Dickinson, accompanied by
the Sheriff of Lancaster County, Pa., and by a Philadelphia
officer named Henry Kline, went to Christiana to arrest
certain slaves of his, who, (as he had been privately
informed by a wretch, named Wm. M. Padgett,) were living
there. An attack was made upon the house, the slave-holder
declaring (as was said) that he "would not leave the place
alive without his slaves." "Then," replied one of them, "you
will not leave here alive." Many shots were fired on both
sides, and the slave-hunter, Edward Gorsuch, was killed.
At a subsequent trial, a number of persons (nearly forty)
were committed to take their trial for "treason against
the United States, by levying war against the same, in
resisting by force of arms the execution of the Fugitive
Slave Law." CASTNER HANWAY was of the number. After
suffering imprisonment and being subjected to great loss
of time and heavy expenses, they were all discharged.
Syracuse, October 1, 1851. JERRY, claimed as the slave of
John McReynolds, of Marion County, Missouri, was brought to
trial before Commissioner J.F. Sabine. He was rescued by a
large body of men from the officers who had him in custody,
and was next heard of in Canada.
James R. Lawrence, a lawyer of Syracuse, acted as counsel
for James Lear, attorney of McReynolds.
[N.B. Daniel Webster's prophecy was not fulfilled.]
Columbia, Penn., (fall of 1851.) Man named HENRY, arrested
as the slave of Dr. Duvall, of Prince George's County,
Maryland,--taken to Harrisburg, before United States
Commissioner McAllister and by him consigned to slavery.
Judge Denning, of Illinois, discharged a negro brought
before him as a fugitive slave, on the ground that the
Fugitive Slave Law was unconstitutional.
Two alleged slaves arrested at Columbia, Penn., on
warrant of United States Commissioner McAllister,--claimed as
property of W.T. McDermott, of Baltimore. One was carried
into slavery, one escaped. (November, 1851.)
Near New Philadelphia, Maryland, a woman, married to a free
colored man, with whom she had lived ten years, was arrested
as the slave of a Mr. Shreve, of Louisville, Kentucky. She
was taken back to Kentucky.
RACHEL PARKER, free colored girl, kidnapped from house of
Joseph S. Miller, West Nottingham, Penn., by the "notorious
Elkton Kidnapper, McCreary," Dec. 31, 1851. Mr. Miller
tracked the kidnappers to Baltimore, and tried to recover the
girl, but in vain. On his way home, he was induced to leave
the cars, and was undoubtedly murdered,--it was supposed in
revenge of the death of Gorsuch at Christiana. Mr. Miller's
body was found suspended from a tree. A suit was brought in
the Circuit Court of Baltimore County, for the freedom of
Rachel Parker, Jan. 1853. Over sixty witnesses, from
Pennsylvania, attended to testify to her being free-born, and
that she was not the person she was claimed to be; although,
in great bodily terror, she had, after her capture, confessed
herself the alleged slave! So complete and strong was the
evidence in her favor, that, after an eight days' trial, the
claimants abandoned the case, and a verdict was rendered for
the freedom of Rachel, and also of her sister, Elizabeth
Parker, who had been previously kidnapped, and conveyed to
--> McCreary was demanded by Gov. Bigler, of Pennsylvania, to be
delivered up for trial on a charge of kidnapping; but Gov. Lowe, of
Maryland, refused to surrender him. See Standard, July 2, 1853.
JAMES TASKER, New York City, (Feb. 1852,) arrested through
the treachery of Police Officer Martin, and brought before
United States Commissioner George W. Morton, as the slave of
Jonathan Pinckney, of Maryland. He was given up, and taken
back to slavery.
HORACE PRESTON, arrested in Williamsburg, New York, as the
slave of William Reese, of Baltimore, Maryland;--Richard
Busteed, of New York, being Attorney for the slaveholder. He
was brought before United States Commissioner Morton, 1st
April, 1852; for several days previous he had been kept a
prisoner, and his wife knew not what had become of him. He
was given up by the Commissioner, and was carried into
slavery. The same policeman, Martin, (who acted in the case
of James Tasker,) was active in this case; being, doubtless,
the original informant.
Preston was afterwards bought for about $1,200, and brought
Columbia, Penn., (end of March, 1852;) a colored man, named
WILLIAM SMITH, was arrested as a fugitive slave in the
lumber yard of Mr. Gottlieb, by Deputy Marshal Snyder, of
Harrisburg, and police officer Ridgeley, of Baltimore, under
a warrant from Commissioner McAllister. Smith endeavored to
escape, when Ridgeley drew a pistol and shot him dead!
Ridgeley was demanded by the Governor of Pennsylvania, of the
Governor of Maryland, and the demand was referred to the
Hon. J.R. Giddings proposed the erection of a monument to
JAMES PHILLIPS, who had resided in Harrisburg, Penn., for
fourteen years, was arrested May 24, 1852, as the former
slave of Dennis Hudson, of Culpepper County, Virginia,
afterwards bought by Henry T. Fant, of Fauquier County. He
was brought before United States Commissioner McAllister.
Judge McKinney volunteered his services to defend the alleged
fugitive. The Commissioner, as soon as possible, ordered the
man to be delivered up; and, after fourteen years' liberty,
he was taken back to slavery in Virginia. Afterwards, bought
for $900, and taken back to Harrisburg.
Wilkesbarre, Penn., (Summer of 1852.) Mr. Harvey arrested
and fined for shielding a slave.
Sacramento, California; a man named Lathrop claimed another
as his slave, and Judge Fry decided that the claim was good,
and ordered the slave to be surrendered. Mr. Lathrop left,
with his slave, for the Atlantic States.
A beautiful young woman, nearly white, was pursued by her
owner [and father] to New York, (end of June, 1852.) There a
large reward was offered to a police officer to discover her,
place of residence. It was discovered, and measures taken for
her apprehension; but the alarm had been taken, and she
Sacramento, California; three men were seized by a Mr.
Perkins, of Mississippi. The Court decided them to be his
property and they were carried back to Mississippi.--Standard,
July 29, 1852.
Petersburg, Penn. Two fugitives from Alabama slavery were
overtaken, and taken back, September, 1852.
JOHN HENRY WILSON, a lad of fourteen years, kidnapped from
Danville, Pennsylvania, and taken to Baltimore, where he was,
offered for sale to John N. Denning. Kidnappers committed to
jail, October, 1852.
[--> DANIEL WEBSTER, the endorser of the Fugitive Slave Law, died at
Marshfield, Mass., October 24th, 1852, in the very height of the
Law's triumphant operation.]
LOUISA, a colored woman, claimed by Mrs. Reese, of San
Francisco, California, was seized by five armed men, and put
on board Steamer Golden Gate, and carried it is not known
whither. The aid of the Law was not invoked. The California
Christian Advocate, from which the above is taken, says,
"Two colored men, stewards on the Golden Gate, were sent back
to the States on the last trip under the State Fugitive Law."
A mulatto woman, in San Francisco, was ordered to be
delivered to her claimant, T.T. Smith, Jackson Country,
Missouri, by "Justice Shepherd,"--San Francisco Herald--in
Standard, November 4, 1852.
Sandusky, Ohio. Two men, two women, and several children
were arrested and taken from a steamboat just about to leave
for Detroit. Taken before Mayor Follett, by a man who claimed
to be their owner. R.R. Sloane, Esq., was employed as counsel
for the slaves. No one claiming custody of the slaves, or
producing any writs or warrants, Mr. Sloane signified to the
crowd present that there appeared to be no cause for the
detention of the persons. Immediately a rush was made for the
door. A man, who before had been silent, exclaimed, "Here are
the papers--I own the slaves--I'll hold you individually
responsible for their escape." The slaves escaped into
Canada, October, 1852. Mr. Sloane was afterwards prosecuted
for the value of the slaves, and judgment given against him
to the amount of $3,950.
Thirty slaves, says the Maysville (Ky.) Eagle, "escaped
from Mason and Bracken Counties, a short time ago. Some of
them were captured in Ohio, by their owners, at a distance of
about forty miles from the river." "They brought the captured
slaves home without encountering the least obstacle, or even
an unkind word."--Standard, November 4, 1852.
THE LEMMON SLAVES. At New York, eight persons, claimed by
Jonathan Lemmon, of Norfolk, Virginia, as his slaves, were
brought before Judge Paine, November, 1852. It appeared that
they had been brought to New York by their owner, with a view
of taking them to Texas, as his slaves. Mr. Louis Napoleon, a
respectable colored man, of New York, procured a writ of
habeas corpus, under which they were brought before the
court. Their liberation was called for, under the State Law,
not being fugitives, but brought into a free State by their
owner. Said owner appeared, with Henry D. Lapaugh as his
counsel, aided by Mr. Clinton. At their urgent request, the
case was postponed from time to time, when Judge Paine, with
evident reluctance, decreed the freedom of the slaves. E.D.
Culver and John Jay, Esqs., were counsel for the slaves. The
merchants and others of New York subscribed and paid Mr.
Lemmon the sum of $5,280, for loss of his slaves. The New
York Journal of Commerce was very active in raising this
money. The same men were invited to contribute something for
the destitute men, women, and children claimed by Lemmon. The
whole amount given by them all, was two dollars. About one
thousand dollars were raised for them among the better
disposed but less wealthy class.
THOMAS BROWN alias GEORGE BORDLEY, Philadelphia, November,
1852, was claimed by one Andrew Pearce, Cecil County,
Maryland. Given up to claimant by Commissioner Ingraham. The
arrest of the man was made by the notorious kidnapper, George
F. Alberti. Mr. Pettit, counsel for the claimant.
[Transcriber's note: The following note is inserted after the
following section but does not refer to any specific reported
--> The Slaveholders of Kentucky begin forming associations for
mutual protection against loss of runaway slaves. The preamble of
the plan of association proposed at a meeting at Minerva Kentucky,
held in the winter of 1852-53, is as follows:--"Whereas it has
become absolutely necessary for the slave-owners of Kentucky to take
such steps as will secure their property, we, the citizens of Mass.
and Bracken counties, do recommend," &c. [end note]
RICHARD NEAL, free colored man, kidnapped in Philadelphia and
carried from the city in a carriage towards Maryland. A writ
of habeas corpus was obtained, the kidnappers were
overtaken, and Neal brought back after resistance and various
hindrances. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania discharged him.
Ten slaves, arrested in Indiana, and taken back to
Tennessee, by W. Carney and others. Resistance was
made, and W. Carney "was very badly injured during the
fracas."--Nashville ----, March 5, 1853. [Transcribers'
note: ---- substituted for word cut off on original page.]
Alton, Illinois. A man claimed to belong to Walter Carrico,
of Warren County, Missouri, was arrested by police officers
from St. Louis. After being lodged in jail in St. Louis he
made his escape, and again went into Illinois. He was
pursued, found, and taken back to St. Louis.--St. Louis
Republican, March, 1853.
AMANDA, a slave girl, was brought to St. Louis, from near
Memphis, Tennessee, a year before, by a son of her master,
and by him set free, without his father's consent. After the
father's death, an attempt was made to seize Amanda, and take
her back to Tennessee without trial. This was prevented by
officers, the girl taken from the steamboat Cornelia, and
brought before Levi Davis, United States Commissioner. He
decided in favor of the claimants, (the heirs of the estate,
of course.)--St. Louis Republican, March 17, 1853.
JANE TRAINER, a colored child, about ten years old, in the
possession of Mrs. Rose Cooper, alias Porter, (a woman
admitted by her counsel to be a common prostitute,) was
brought before Judge Duer, of New York City, by a writ of
habeas corpus, which had been applied for by Charles
Trainer, the father of the child, (a free colored man, who
had followed the parties from Mobile to New York,) and who
desired that the custody of his daughter's person should be
granted to him. [June, 1853, and previous.] Judge Duer
decided that it was not within his jurisdiction to determine
to whom the custody of the child belonged; the Supreme Court
of New York must decide that. Judge D. proposed to both
parties that the child should be put into his hands, and he
would provide a proper person for her care and education, but
the woman (Porter) would not consent to this. She evidently
designed to train up the child for a life of shame, and
perhaps of slavery also. The case was brought by a writ of
habeas corpus, before Judge Barculo, of the Supreme Court,
sitting at Brooklyn. The effort to serve the writ was at
first defeated by the notorious New York bully, Captain
Isaiah Rynders, acting, it was said, under the advice of
James T. Brady, counsel for Mrs. Porter. For this
interference with, the law, Rynders and some others were
arrested and taken before Judge Barculo, who let them off on
their making an apology! The second attempt to serve the writ
on the child was more successful. After hearing counsel,
Judge Barculo adjudged "that the said Charles Trainer is
entitled to the care and custody of said Jane Trainer, and
directing her to be delivered to him as her father," &c. In
giving his decision, Judge B. said, "It is not to be assumed
that a child under fourteen years of age is possessed of
sufficient discretion to choose her own guardian; a house of
ill-fame is not a suitable place, nor one of its inmates a
proper person for the education of such a child." Jane
Trainer's mother was afterwards bought from slavery in
Mobile, Alabama, and enabled to join her husband and child.
In 1854, Charles Trainer obtained a verdict in King's County
Court, New York, for $775 damages, against Rose Cooper.
[N.B. Though not strictly a case under the Fugitive Slave Law, this
is very properly inserted here, as the whole spirit of the woman, of
her counsel, and of the means he took to accomplish his base
designs, was clearly instigated by that Law, and by the malignant
influences it brought into action against the colored people, both
slave and free.]
BASIL WHITE, Philadelphia, was summarily surrendered into
slavery in Maryland, by United States Commissioner Ingraham,
June 1, 1853. He was betrayed into the clutches of the
kidnapper Alberti, by a colored man named John Dorsey.
Two slaves of Sylvester Singleton, living near Burlington,
(Ky.?) escaped and reached Columbus, Ohio; were there
overtaken by their master, who secured them and took them
back with him.--Cincinnati Enquirer.
JOHN FREEMAN, a free colored man, seized in Indianapolis, and
claimed as the slave of Pleasant Ellington, a Methodist
church-member, (Summer, 1853,) of Missouri. Freeman pledged
himself to prove that he was not the person he was alleged to
be. The United States Marshal consented to his having time
for this, provided he would go to jail, and pay three
dollars a day for a guard to keep him secure! Bonds to any
amount, to secure the marshal against loss, if Freeman could
go at large, were rejected. Freeman's counsel went to
Georgia, and "after many days returned with a venerable and
highly respectable gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Patillo,
(post-master of the place where he resides,) who had
voluntarily made the long journey for the sole purpose of
testifying to his knowledge of Freeman, and that he was well
known to be free!" But Freeman was still kept in jail. After
several days, Ellington brought witnessess to prove F. to be
his slave. The witnesses, and Liston (counsel for Ellington)
wished to have Freeman strip himself, to be examined naked.
By advise of his counsel he refused. The marshal took him to
his cell, and compelled him to strip. The witnesses then
swore that he was Ellington's property. Freeman's counsel
produced further evidence that he had been known as a free
man twenty years. Ellington claimed that he had escaped
from him sixteen years before. The man who did escape from
Ellington, just sixteen years before, was discovered to be
living near Malden, Canada. Two of the Kentucky witnesses
visited and recognized him. Freeman was then released, but
with a large debt upon him, $1,200, which had grown up by
the unusually heavy expenses of his defence and long
imprisonment, Freeman brought a suit against Ellington for
false imprisonment laying damages at $10,000. A verdict for
$2,000 was given in his favor, which was agreed to by
Ellington's counsel.--Indiana Free Democrat, May, 1854.
Three slaves, two men and a girl, fled from near Maysville,
Kentucky, into Ohio. Were pursued by their owners and
assistants, five men armed, and were overtaken, says the
Maysville Weekly Express, "at the bridge over Rattlesnake
Creek, on the Petersburg and Greenfield road, about ten
o'clock at night," the slaves being, armed, and accompanied
by a white man. Both parties fired, the negro girl was
wounded, but still fled; one of the negro men was also
wounded, and, says the Maysville paper, they "were tracked a
mile and a half by the blood." The other slave was secured
and taken back to Kentucky, "much bruised and cut in the
affray." "The white man," says the same paper, "was also
caught and beaten in a very severe manner with a club, and
strong hopes are entertained that he will die."--Wilmington
(Ohio) Republican, July, 22, 1853.
A colored girl, between four and five years old, suddenly
disappeared from Providence, R.I., July 13, 1853; at the same
time, a mulatto woman, who had been heard to make inquiries
about the child, was missing also. Believed to be a case of
A negro boy, says the Memphis Inquirer, "left his owner
in this city," and went on board the steamboat Aurilla Wood,
bound for Cincinnati. By a telegraphic message he was
intercepted, taken from the boat at Cairo, Illinois, and
taken back to Memphis. (Summer, 1853.)
GEORGE W. MCQUERRY, Cincinnati, Ohio. A colored man, who
had resided three or four years in Ohio, and married a free
woman, by whom he had three children, was remanded to slavery
by Judge McLean (August, 1853.) The man was taken by the
United States Marshal, with a posse, across the river to
Covington, Kentucky, and there delivered to his master!
Two men kidnapped from Chicago, and taken to St. Louis. See
Chicago Tribune, quoted in Standard, Aug. 27, 1853.
Three Slaves taken by Habeas Corpus, from steamboat
Tropic, and brought before Judge Flinn, at Cincinnati,
August, 1853. The woman Hannah expressed a wish to return to
her master in the boat. Judge Flinn ordered her into the
custody of the claimants without investigation. Judge F.
asked Hannah if she had the custody of the child Susan, to
which she answered that she had. Whereupon the Judge also
ordered her back into the custody of the claimants, without
examination. Mr. Jolliffe protested against ordering the
child back without examination. The Court said they would
take the responsibility. The examination then proceeded in
the case of the man Edward. It appeared that they were
purchased in Virginia, to be conveyed to Mississippi. The
boat stopped at Cincinnati, and the slaves were twice taken
by the agent of the owners on shore, and upon the territory
of Ohio. Mr. Jolliffe commenced his argument at 7, P.M., and
argued that the slaves, being brought by their owners upon
free territory, were legally free. Mr. J., before finishing,
was taken ill, and obliged to leave the court-room; he first
begged the Court to adjourn until morning, which was refused
by Judge Flinn. Judge Keys said the Ohio river was a highway
for all States bordering on it, whose citizens had a right
also to use the adjacent shores for purposes necessary to
navigation. Mr. Zinn stated that Mr. Jolliffe had been
obliged to retire, in consequence of illness, and had
requested him to urge the Court to continue the case. Judge
Flinn said--"The case will he decided to-night; that is
decided on. We have not been silting here four or five hours
to determine whether we will decide the case or not. It will
be decided, and you may come up to it sideways or square; or
any way you please; you must come to it." Mr. Zinn said he
was not going to argue. He had made the request out of
courtesy to a professional brother. He doubted the power of
the Court to deliver the boy into slavery. Judge Flinn
said--"I do not wish to hear any arguments of that nature."
The man was then ordered to be taken by the Sheriff, and
delivered to claimant on board the boat,--which was
done.--Cincinnati Gazette, 27th August, 1853.
PATRICK SNEED, a colored waiter in the Cataract House,
Niagara Falls, arrested on the pretended charge of murder
committed in Savannah, Georgia. He was brought, by Habeas
Corpus, before Judge Sheldon, at Buffalo, (September, 1853,)
and by him ordered to be "fully discharged."
BILL, [or WILLIAM THOMAS,] a colored waiter at the
Phenix Hotel, Wilkesbarre, Penn., described as a "tall,
noble-looking, intelligent, and active mulatto, nearly
white," was attacked by "Deputy Marshal Wynkoop," Sept. 3,
1853, and four other persons, (three of them from Virginia.)
These men came "suddenly, from behind, knocked him down with
a mace, and partially shackled him." He struggled hard
against the five, shook them off, and with the handcuff,
which had been secured to his right wrist only "inflicted
some hard wounds on the countenances" of his assailants.
Covered with blood, he broke from them, rushed from the
house, and plunged in the river close by, exclaiming, "I will
be drowned rather than taken alive." He was pursued, fired
upon repeatedly, ordered to come out of the water, where he
stood immersed to his neck, or "they would blow his brains
out." He replied, "I will die first." They then deliberately
fired at him four or five different times, the last ball
supposed to have struck on his head, for his face was
instantly covered with blood, and he sprang up and shrieked.
The by-standers began to cry "shame" and the kidnappers
retired a short distance for consultation. Bill came out of
the water and lay down on the shore. His pursuers, supposing
him dying, said, "Dead niggers are not worth taking South."
Some one brought and put on him a pair of pantaloons. He was
helped to his feet by a colored man named Rex; on seeing
which, Wynkoop and party headed him and presented their
revolvers, when BILL again ran into the river, "where he
remained upwards of an hour, nothing but his head above
water, covered with blood, and in full view of hundreds who
lined the banks." His claimants dared not follow him into
the water; for, as he said afterward, "he would have died
contented, could he have carried two or three of them down
with him." Preparations [rather slow it would appear,] were
made to arrest the murderous gang, but they had departed
from the place. BILL then waded some distance up the stream,
and "was found by some women flat on his face in a
corn-field. They carried him to a place of safety, dressed
his wounds," and the suffering man was seen no more in
Wilkesbarre.--Correspondence of New York Tribune.
Wynkoop and another were afterwards arrested in Philadelphia, on a
charge of riot, the warrant issuing from a State magistrate of
Wilkesbarre, on the complaint of William C. Gildersleeve, of the
place. Mr. Jackson, the constable who held them in custody, was
brought before Judge Grier, of the United States Supreme Court, by
habeas corpus. Judge Grier, during the examination, said:--
"I will not have the officers of the United States harassed
at every step in the performance of their duties by every
petty magistrate who chooses to harass them, or by any
unprincipled interloper who chooses to make complaints
against them--for I know something of the man who makes this
complaint." "If this man Gildersleeve fails to make out the
facts set forth in the warrant of arrest, I will request the
Prosecuting Attorney of Luzerne County to prosecute him
for perjury. * * * If any tuppenny magistrate, or any
unprincipled interloper can come in, and cause to be arrested
the officers of the United States, whenever they please, it
is a sad affair. * * * If habeas corpuses are to be taken
out alter that manner, I will have an indictment sent to the
United States Grand Jury against the person who applies for
the writ, or assists in getting it, the lawyer who defends
it, and the sheriff who serves the writ. * * * I will see
that my officers are protected." On a subsequent day, Judge
Grier gave an elaborate opinion, reciting the facts in the
case, as stated by the prisoners, and ordering them to be
discharged! He said:--"We are unable to perceive, in this
transaction, anything worthy of blame in the conduct of these
officers in their unsuccessful endeavors to fulfil a most
dangerous and disgusting duty; except, perhaps, a want of
sufficient courage and perseverance in the attempt to execute
Wynkoop and the other were discharged by Judge Kane on the ground that
they did only what their duty, under the Law, required. (May, 1854.)
A family of colored persons, at Uniontown, Pa., were
claimed as slaves by a man in Virginia. They admitted that
they had been his slaves, but declared that they had come
into Pennsylvania with their master's consent and knowledge,
on a visit to some friends in Fayette County, and were not,
therefore, fugitives. This was overruled, and the negroes
were sent back by a United States Commissioner, name not
given. (September, 1853.)[A]--Pittsburgh Saturday Visiter.
[Footnote A: A correspondent of the New York Evening
Post, writing from Columbus, Ohio, September 1, 1853, states
that a very large number of fugitive slaves are continually
passing through that State; that they are generally armed;
and that they find increasing sympathy among the people on
the road, and the boatmen on the lakes.]
A desperate fight between a party of four fugitives and
about double the number of whites, took place in Carroll
County, Maryland. Four white men shot--none dangerously. Two
of the slaves wounded, one severely. They were captured.
(October, 1853.)--Westminster (Md.) Democrat.
Washington, Indiana. In April, 1853, GEORGE, a negro man,
was arrested and claimed by a Mr. Rice, of Kentucky, as his
slave. Judge Clemens ordered his surrender to Rice, who took
him to Louisville, and there sold him to a slave-trader, who
took him to Memphis, Tennessee. Here a man from Mississippi
claimed that George was his slave, obtained a writ of
replevin, and took possession of him.
JOSHUA GLOVER, colored man, claimed as the slave of B.S.
Garland, of St. Louis County, Missouri, was arrested near
Racine, Wisconsin, about the 10th of March, 1854. Arrest made
by five men, who burst suddenly into his shanty, put a pistol
to his head, felled him to the ground, handcuffed him, and
took him in a wagon to Milwaukee jail, a distance of
twenty-five miles. They swore that if he shouted or made the
least noise, they would kill him instantly. When visited,
says the Milwaukee Sentinel, "We found him in his cell. He
was cut in two places on the head; the front of his shirt and
vest were soaking and stiff with his own blood." A writ of
habeas corpus was immediately issued; also a warrant for
the arrest of the five men who assaulted and beat him in his
shanty. Thousands of people collected around the jail and
court-house, "the excitement being intense." A vigilance
committee of twenty-five persons was appointed to watch the
jail at night and see that Glover was not secretly taken
away. The next day, at about five o'clock, P.M., a
considerable accession of persons being made to the crowd,
and it appearing that every attempt to save Glover by the
laws of Wisconsin had been overruled by United States Judge
Miller, a demand was made for the man. This being refused, an
attack was made upon the door with axes, planks, &c. It was
broken in, the inner door and wall broken through, and Glover
taken from his keepers, brought out, placed in a wagon, and
driven off at great speed.
S.M. Booth, editor of the Milwaukee Free Democrat, Charles
Clement, of the Racine Advocate, W.H. Waterman, and George
S. Wright were arrested for aiding and abetting the rescue of
Glover. Booth was subsequently discharged by the Supreme
Court of Wisconsin, on the ground that the Fugitive Slave Law
is unconstitutional. He was, however, re-arrested, and held
to answer in the United States Courts, on the same charge;
the offered bail was refused, and he was lodged in jail. The
case was subsequently tried before the District Court of the
United States, at Milwaukee, on the question as to the right
of a State judiciary to release prisoners under a writ of
habeas corpus, who may be in the lawful custody of United
States officers; and also to determine the constitutionality
of the Fugitive Slave Law. (Washington Star, September 20,
1854.) The Attorney General, Caleb Cushing, made himself very
active in pushing forward this case. Mr. Booth, early in
1855, was fined one thousand dollars and sentenced to one
month's imprisonment. John Ryecraft, for same offence, was
sentenced in a fine of two hundred dollars and imprisonment
for ten days. All for acts such as Christianity and Humanity
enjoin. On a writ of habeas corpus, Messrs. Booth and
Ryecraft were taken before the Wisconsin Supreme Court,
sitting at Madison, and discharged from imprisonment. This,
however, did not relieve them from the fines imposed by the
United States Court. The owner of the slave brought a civil
suit against Mr. Booth, claiming $1,000 damages for the loss
of his slave. Judge Miller decided, July, 1855, that the
$1,000 must be paid.
EDWARD DAVIS, March, 1854. As the steamboat Keystone State,
Captain Hardie, from Savannah, was entering Delaware Bay,
bound to Philadelphia, the men engaged in heaving the lead
heard a voice from under the guards of the boat, calling for
help. A rope was thrown, and a man caught it and was drawn
into the boat in a greatly exhausted state. He had remained
in that place from the time of leaving Savannah, the water
frequently sweeping over him. Some bread in his pocket was
saturated with salt water and dissolved to a pulp. The
captain ordered the vessel to be put in to Newcastle,
Delaware, where the fugitive, hardly able to stand, was taken
on shore and put in jail, to await the orders of his owner,
in Savannah. DAVIS claimed to be a free man, and a native of
Philadelphia, and described many localities there. Before
Judge Bradford, at Newcastle, Davis's freedom was fully
proved, and he was discharged. He was again arrested and
placed in jail on the oath of Captain Hardie, that he
believed him to be a fugitive slave and a fugitive from
justice. After some weeks' delay, he was brought to trial
before United States Commissioner Samuel Guthrie, who ordered
him to be delivered up to his claimant on the ground that he
was legally a slave, though free-born. It appeared in
evidence that Davis had formerly gone from Pennsylvania to
reside in Maryland, contrary to the laws of that State; which
forbid free colored persons from other States to come there
to reside; and being unable to pay the fine imposed for this
offence (!) by the Orphan's (!) Court of Harford County, was
committed to jail and sold as a slave for life, by Robert
McGaw, Sheriff of the County, to Dr. John G. Archer, of
Louisiana, from whom he was sold to B.M. Campbell, who sold
him to William A. Dean, of Macon, Georgia, the present
claimant. Thus a free-born citizen of Pennsylvania was
consigned, by law to slavery for life:
[-->In May, 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Bill was enacted.]
ANTHONY BURNS, arrested in Boston, May 24, 1854, as the slave
of Charles F. Suttle, of Alexandria, Virginia, who was
present to claim him, accompanied by a witness from Richmond,
Virginia, named William Brent. Burns was arrested on a
warrant granted by United States Commissioner Edward Greeley
Loring, taken to the court-house in Boston, ironed, and
placed in an upper story room under a strong guard. The
hearing commenced the next morning before Mr. Loring, but was
adjourned until Saturday; May 27, to give the counsel for A.
Burns time to examine the case. On Friday evening, (26th,) an
attack was made upon the court-house by a body of men, with
the evident design of rescuing Burns; a door was forced in,
and one of the marshal's special guard, (named Batchelder,)
was killed, whether by the assailants or by one of his own
party is uncertain, it being quite dark; upon the cry of
Batchelder that he was killed, the attacking party retreated
and made no further attempt. The trial of the case proceeded
on Saturday, again on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, when
the Commissioner said he would give his decision on Friday.
During the trial, Burns was continually surrounded by a
numerous body-guard, (said to be at least one hundred and
twenty-five men,) selected by Watson Freeman, United States
Marshal, from the vilest sinks of scoundrelism, corruption,
and crime in the city to be Deputy Marshals for the occasion.
These men, with every form of loathsome impurity and
hardened villainy stamped upon their faces, sat constantly
around the prisoner while in the court-room, the handles of
pistols and revolvers visibly protruding from their breast
pockets. A company of United States troops, from the Navy
Yard, occupied the court-house, and guarded all avenues to
the United States court-room. The testimony of numerous
highly respectable witnesses was adduced to show that Anthony
Burns was in Boston a month earlier than the time at which he
was said to have left Richmond. R.H. Dana, Jr. and Charles M.
Ellis, counsel for Burns, made very eloquent and able
arguments in his behalf. Seth J. Thomas and E.G. Parker were
the counsel for Suttle, the case being constantly watched and
aided by the United States District Attorney, Benjamin F.
Hallett, who was in regular telegraphic communication with
the President of the United States, (F. Pierce,) at
Washington. An effort was made, and followed up with much
patience, to buy Burns's freedom, Suttle having offered to
sell him for $1,200. The money was raised and tendered to
Suttle, when difficulties were interposed, especially by Mr.
Attorney Hallett, and the attempt failed. Suttle afterwards
declared he would not sell Burns for any sum, but that he
should go back to Virginia. On Friday morning, June 2d,
Commissioner Loring gave his decision, overriding all the
testimony in Burns's favor, using certain expressions which
fell from Burns in the first heat and confusion of his
arrest, as testimony against him, and concluding with
ordering him to be delivered up to the claimant. Some four
hours were consumed in getting Court Street, State Street,
&c., in a state of readiness for the removal of the prisoner.
A regiment of Massachusetts Infantry had been posted on
Boston Common, under command of Col. Benjamin Franklin (!)
Edmands, from an early hour of the day, in anticipation of
the Commissioner's decision. These troops, which had been
called out by the Mayor, Jerome V.C. Smith, were marched to
the scene of the kidnapping, and so placed as to guard every
street, lane, and other avenue leading to State Street, &c.,
the route through which the slave procession was to pass. No
individual was suffered to pass within these guards; but acts
of violence were committed by them on several individuals.
Court Square was occupied by two companies of United States
troops, (chiefly Irishmen,) and a large field-piece was drawn
into the centre. All preparations being made, Watson Freeman
(United States Marshal) issued forth from the court-house
with his prisoner, who walked with a firm step, surrounded by
the body-guard of criminals before mentioned, with drawn
United States sabres in their hands, and followed by United
States troops with the aforesaid piece of artillery. Preceded
by a company of Massachusetts mounted troops, under command
of Colonel Isaac H. Wright, this infamous procession took its
way down Court Street, State Street and Commerce Street, (for
the proprietors of Long Wharf refused to allow them to march
upon their premises, through a public highway in all ordinary
cases,) to the T Wharf, where the prisoner was taken on board
a steam tow-boat, and conveyed down the harbor to the United
States Revenue Cutter Morris; in which he was transported to
It may not be amiss to have given, in a single instance, this
somewhat detailed account of the process of seizing, trying,
and delivering up a man into slavery, whose only crime was
that he had fled from a bondage "one hour of which is fraught
with more misery than ages of that which our fathers rose in
rebellion to throw off," Thomas Jefferson, the Virginian
slaveholder, himself being witness.
Anthony Burns, having been sold into North Carolina, was
afterwards purchased with money subscribed in Boston and
vicinity, for the purpose, and returned to Boston.
The illegality of the Mayor's conduct in ordering out the
military, and giving to the Colonel of the regiment the
entire control of the same, was fully shown by different and
highly competent writers, among whom was P.W. Chandler, Esq.,
whose two articles, in the Boston Advertiser, deserve to be
remembered with respect. The Mayor's excuse was that he
desired to keep the peace. But these Massachusetts troops
received pay for their day's work from the United States
Government. Judge HOAR, in a charge to the Grand Jury,
declared the act of the Mayor, in calling out the militia, to
be an infraction of law.
STEPHEN PEMBROKE, and his two sons, Robert and Jacob,
19 and 17 years of age, were arrested in New York almost
simultaneously with the seizure of Burns in Boston; claimed
as the slaves of David Smith and Jacob H. Grove, of
Sharpsburg, Washington County, Maryland. They escaped May
1st, and came to New York, followed closely by their masters,
who discovered their retreat in Thompson Street, and pounced
upon them by night. At 8-1/2 o'clock, next morning, they were
taken before United States Commissioner G.W. Morton, "where
the case came up for the most summary and hasty hearing that
has ever characterized our judicial proceedings." Dunning and
Smith were counsel for the masters, but the fugitives had no
counsel; and the hearing was finished, and a warrant granted
to the slave claimants before the matter became known in the
city. When Mr. Jay and Mr. Culver hastened to the court-room
to offer their services to the prisoners, as counsel, they
were assured by officers, and by Commissioner Morton
himself, that the men wanted no counsel, and were not in the
building. On search, however, it was found they were in the
building, locked up in a room. They said they desired counsel
and the aid of friends. A writ of habeas corpus was
obtained, but before it could be served the three men had
been removed from the State, and were on their way to
Baltimore. [See the published. Card of E.D. CULVER, Esq.]
Stephen Pembroke was the brother, and his sons the nephews
of Rev. Dr. Pennington, of New York City, Pastor of a
Presbyterian (colored) Church. Stephen Pembroke was purchased
and brought back to New York, ($1,000 having been contributed
for that purpose,) and related his experience of the slave's
life, at a public meeting, held in the Broadway Tabernacle,
July 17, 1854. His sons had been sold, and remained in
JAMES COTES, free man of color, residing in Gibson County,
Indiana, went to Jeffersonville, (Ind.,) to take the cars for
Indianapolis. On going to the depot, at 6, A.M., for the
morning train, he was knocked down, "beat over the head with
a brick-bat, and cut with a bowie-knife, until subdued. He
was then tied, and in open daylight in full view of our
populace, borne off bleeding like a hog." He was undoubtedly
taken to the jail, in Louisville. On crossing the river to
Louisville he met the captain of a steamboat, who knew him to
be a free man. (About June 1, 1854.) The kidnapper was
arrested and held to bail in the sum of $1,000, to take his
trial at next Circuit Court.
Near Cedarville, Ohio, May 25, 1854, about noon, "a colored
man, of middle age and respectable appearance, was walking on
the Columbus and Xenia turnpike. He was alone. A man in a
buggy overtook him, and invited him to ride, saying he was a
friend to the colored man, and promising to assist him in
obtaining his liberty." He took the colored man to the house
of one Chapman, "three miles south of Selma, in Greene
county." There Chapman and the other, (whose name was William
McCord,) fell upon the colored man, struck him with a colt
upon the head, so that he bled severely, and bound his hands
behind him. "Soon after the negro got loose and ran down the
road; McCord ran after him, crying 'Catch the d----d horse
thief,' &c., Chapman and his son following; negro picked up
a stone, the man a club and struck him on the head, so that
he did not throw the stone. He was then tied, and helped
by McCord and Chapman to walk to the buggy. McCord asked
Chapman, the son, to accompany him to Cincinnati with the
colored man, promising to give him half the reward ($200) if
he would. They then started, driving very fast." "We had not
gone over two or three miles," said Chapman, "before the
negro died, and after taking him two or three miles further,
put him out, and left him as now discovered,"--viz. in a
thick wood, one mile south of Clifton. The above facts are
taken from the testimony given at the coroner's inquest
over the body. "The jury gave in substance the following
verdict:--Deceased came to his death by blows from a colt
and club in the hands of one William McCord, assisted by
the two Chapmans." Chapman, the son, said that McCord made
him a proposition to join and follow kidnapping for a
business, stating that he knew where he could get four
victims immediately. McCord was taken and lodged in Xenia
jail. The Chapmans bound over to take their trial for
kidnapping.--Wilmington (Ohio) Herald of Freedom.
Columbus, Indiana. A Kentuckian endeavored to entice a
little negro boy to go with him, and both were waiting to
take the cars, when mischief was suspected, and a crowd of
people proceeded to the depot, and made the kidnapper
release his intended victim. (June, 1854.)--Indiana Free
---- BROWN, a resident of Henderson, Kentucky, was arrested
for aiding four female slaves to escape from Union County,
Kentucky, to Canada. United States Marshal Ward and Sheriff
Gavitt, of Indiana, made the arrest. He was lodged in
Henderson jail.--Evansville (Ind.) Journal, June 2, 1854.
Several Kentucky planters, among them Archibald Dixon, raised
$500 in order to secure Brown's conviction and sentence to
[Transcriber's note: The following note appears as a footnote
to this section without specific reference to any of the
--> The case of SOLOMON NORTHUP, though not under the
Fugitive Law, is so striking an illustration of the power
which created that law, and of the constant danger which
impends over every colored citizen of the Northern States,
fast threatening to include white citizens also, that it must
not he passed over without mention. He was kidnapped in 1841,
from the State of New York, and kept in slavery twelve years.
Two men, named Merrill and Russell, were arrested and tried
as his kidnappers, and the fact fully proven. But the case
was got into the United States Courts, and the criminals went
unpunished. [end of note]
Nine slaves left their masters in Boone County, Kentucky,
on Sunday, June 11, 1854, having three horses with them.
Arrived at the river, they turned the horses back, and taking
a skiff crossed at midnight to the Ohio shore. After
travelling two or three miles, they hid during Monday in a
clump of bushes. At night they started northward again. A
man, named John Gyser, met them and promised to assist them.
He took them to a stable, where they were to remain until
night. He immediately went to Covington, Kentucky, learned
that $1,000 reward was offered for their apprehension, and
gave information of their place of concealment. At evening a
strong band of Kentuckians, with United States Deputy Marshal
George Thayer, assisted by three Cincinnati officers,
surrounded the stable and took the nine prisoners, on a
warrant issued by United States Commissioner Pendery. They
were all given up to their claimants, and taken back to
A New Orleans correspondent of the New York Tribune, in a
letter dated July 3, 1854, writes, "During a recent trip up
the river I was on several steamers, and on every boat they
had one or more runaway slaves, who had been caught and were
being taken in irons to their masters."
On the Steamer Alvin Adams, at Madison, Indiana, a man was
arrested as a fugitive and taken to Louisville, Kentucky.
He was claimed as the slave of John H. Page, of Bowling
Green. The Louisville Journal, edited by a Northern man,
stigmatised him as a "rascal," for his attempt to be free.
Two colored men, on their way to Chicago, were seized and
taken from the cars at Lasalle, Illinois, by three men, who
said they were not officers. The colored men were known to
be free; one was "a respectable resident of Chicago." Some of
the passengers interfered; but it being night, and very dark,
and the cars starting on the colored men were left in the
hands of their kidnappers.
Chicago, Illinois. Three men from Missouri, with a warrant
from the Governor of that State, to take a certain fugitive
slave, seized a man whom they met in the street, bound him
with a handkerchief, and to quicken his steps beat him with
the butt of a pistol. He succeeded in shaking off his captors
and fled, a pistol-bullet being sent after him, which did not
hit him. He made good his escape. The men were arrested and
held to trial for assault with deadly weapons. By an
extraordinary conspiracy on the part of District Attorney
Hoyne, Sheriff Bradley, and others, these men were taken from
jail to be carried to Springfield, Illinois, two hundred
miles distant, to appear before Chief Justice Treat, that he
might inquire "whether said alleged kidnappers were justly
held to bail and imprisoned." It was so suddenly done that
the counsel for the kidnapped man and for the State of
Illinois had not time to reach Springfield before the men
were discharged and on their way to Missouri. The Grand Jury
of the County (in which Chicago is) had found a true bill
against them, of which the Sheriff professed to be ignorant,
(which was deemed hardly possible,)--under which bill they
would probably have been convicted and sentenced to the State
Prison. Thus the omnipotent Slave Power reaches forth its
hand into our most Northern cities, end saves its minions
from the punishment which their lawless acts have justly
merited.--Chicago Daily Tribune, Sept. 21, 1854.
--> The three kidnappers published a statement in the St. Louis
Republican of September 26.
HENRY MASSEY, at Philadelphia, September, 1854, was brought
before United States Commissioner E.D. Ingraham, claimed by
Franklin Bright, of Queen Anne's County, Maryland, as his
slave. Arrested in Harrisburg.
HARVEY, arrested near Cumminsville, Ohio,--escaped,--taken
again in Goshen, about ten miles from Cincinnati, and lodged
in the jail of that city. An investigation of the case was
had before United States Commissioner Pendery, and the
slave remanded to the custody of his master.--Cincinnati
Commercial, September 22, 1854.
Byberry, Pennsylvania, September 18, 1854. A carriage load
of suspicious looking men came to this place in the
afternoon. They waited until nightfall, when they burst into
the house of a colored family, "seized the man in presence of
his wife and another woman, threatening to shoot them if they
interfered--dragged him out, beating him over the head with a
mace. The poor fellow continued to scream for help until his
voice was stifled by his groans; they forced him into their
carriage and drove off, before any effectual assistance
could be offered." He was a sober and industrious man, and
much respected. His wife was left heartbroken, with one
child.--Norristown (Pa.) Olive Branch.
The Frankfort (Ky.) Yeoman, of November 18, 1854,
said:--"Kidnapping free negroes in Ohio, and deluding our
slaves from their masters to recapture and sell them, is an
established profession of a gang located upon the borders of
the Ohio River, combining with negro-traders in the interior
of this State." The names of some employed in this business
are given, two of whom, having been arrested and imprisoned,
threatened to burn the city of Frankfort for interrupting
JANE MOORE, a free colored woman, at Cincinnati, November,
1854, seized in the house of her sister, (Sycamore Street,)
beaten, and with the help of a deputy marshal from Covington,
Kentucky, carried over to Covington, and lodged in jail,
on pretence of her being a fugitive slave. She was taken
before the Mayor of Covington, "who heard the case with
impartiality." Her freedom was established, and she released.
At Indianapolis, Indiana, December, 1854, Benjamin B.
Waterhouse was indicted for harboring fugitive slaves,
contrary to the provisions of the Fugitive Law. He was found
guilty, but the jury recommended him "to the favorable
consideration of the Court, and stated that the evidence was
barely sufficient to convict." He was fined fifty dollars and
to be imprisoned one hour, and the government to pay the
A Proposition for Kidnapping, on a large scale, was made by
John H. Pope, "police officer and constable," in a letter
dated "Frederick, Maryland, United States of America, January
1, 1855," and addressed to Mr. Hays, Sheriff of Montreal,
Canada. "Vast numbers of slaves," says Mr. Pope, "escaping
from their masters or owners, succeed in reaching your
Provinces, and are, therefore, without the pale of the
'Fugitive Slave Law,' and can only be restored by cunning,
together with skill. Large rewards are offered and will be
paid for their return, and could I find an efficient person
to act with me, a great deal of money could be made, as I
would equally divide. * * * The only apprehension we have in
approaching too far into Canada is the fear of being
arrested; and had I a good assistant in your city, who would
induce the negroes to the frontier, I would be there to pay
the cash. On your answer, I can furnish names and
descriptions of negroes."
This letter was published, doubtless at the Montreal Sheriff's
request, in the Montreal Gazette, January 13, 1855.
--> The Montreal Gazette, of February 3, published a second letter
from J.H. Pope.
A warrant was issued in Boston, January 10, 1855, by United
States Commissioner Charles Levi Woodbury, for the arrest of
JOHN JACKSON, as a fugitive from service and labor in
Georgia. Mr. Jackson, who had been for some time in the city,
was nowhere to be found.
ROSETTA ARMSTEAD, a colored girl, was taken by writ of
habeas corpus before Judge Jamison, at Columbus, Ohio.
Rosetta formerly belonged to Ex-President John Tyler, who
gave her to his daughter, the wife of Rev. Henry M.
Dennison, an Episcopal clergyman of Louisville, Kentucky.
Mrs. D. having deceased, Rosetta was to be sent back to
Virginia in care of an infant child, both being placed in
charge of a Dr. Miller, a friend of Mr. Dennison. Passing
through Ohio, the above writ was obtained. Rosetta expressed
her desire to remain in freedom in Ohio. The case was removed
to Cincinnati, and was delayed until Mr. Dennison could
arrive from Louisville. (Ohio State Journal, March 12,
1855.) The girl was set free; "but was again arrested by the
United States Marshal upon the same warrant which Judge
Parker had declared illegal; thereupon another habeas
corpus was issued, which the Marshal refused to obey; when
he was fined $50, and imprisoned for contempt." Even United
States Commissioner Pendery, before whom the case was brought
as that of a fugitive slave, pronounced the girl free, and
she was placed in the care of a guardian. The United States
Marshal being taken by habeas corpus before Judge McLean,
of the United States Supreme Court, was set at liberty, Judge
McL. alleging that the proceedings in the State Court were
null and void!
GEORGE CLARK, a colored boy, eighteen years of age, in
Pennsylvania, was decoyed into the house of one Thompson,
(February 23, 1855,) where he was seized by three men, one of
whom was Solomon Snyders, a well known ruffian and kidnapper
in the neighborhood, who said to him, "Now, George, I am
going to take you to your master." The screams of George
fortunately brought deliverance to him. The three men were
arrested, tried, and sentenced to imprisonment for
kidnapping, by the Court of Dauphin County.--Norristown
(Penn.) Olive Branch.
The Norristown (Penn.) Olive Branch, (in connection with
the last named case,) speaks of a case which had occurred a
short time before, under the Fugitive Law, before United
States Commissioner McAllister, at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania,
and which has not yet been mentioned in this record. A
colored man and his wife, with their infant child, were
taken, "one morning, very early," before Commissioner Richard
McAllister, and before any counsel could reach the spot the
case had been decided against the man and woman; but the
babe, having been born in Pennsylvania, they did not "dare to
send that" into slavery; "so the only alternative was to take
it away from its mother," which was done, and that evening
the man and woman were taken South. No time had been allowed
to bring forward witnesses in their behalf, and there was
only a single witness against them, and he a boy about
seventeen years old, and a relative of the slave-claimant.
The woman's sufferings, on account of the separation from
her child, seemed greater than for her own fate. The article
from the Norristown paper is in the National Anti-Slavery
Standard, June 2, 1855.
GEORGE MITCHELL, a young colored man, at San Jose,
California, arrested and taken before Justice Allen, April,
1855, "charged with owing service and labor to one Jesse C.
Cooper, of Tennessee." Mitchell was brought into California
by his then owner, in 1849, the year before the enactment of
the Fugitive Slave Law. His arrest was made, under a Fugitive
Slave Law of California. By habeas corpus the case was
carried before Judge C.P. Hester, of the District Court.
Mitchell was discharged on the ground (we believe) that the
California Law was unconstitutional; also that the
proceedings were "absolutely void." On the 21st April (or
May) "another attempt was made to reduce George to slavery at
San Francisco." He was brought before the United States
District Court, Judge Hoffman presiding, claimed under the
United States Fugitive Law as the property of the above-named
Cooper. [The result of the trial not known.]--San Jose
At Dayville, Connecticut, June 13, 1855, an attempt was
made to seize a fugitive slave; "but the citizens interfered
and the fugitive escaped." He was claimed by a resident of
Pomfret, who said he had bought him in Cuba.--Hartford
At Burlington, Iowa, a colored man, called DICK, was
arrested and taken before United States Commissioner Frazee.
"Much excitement was caused." He was claimed as belonging to
Thomas Ruthford, Clark County, Missouri. Dick was discharged
as not being the man claimed. (June, 1855.)
A white girl, fourteen years of age, daughter of Mr. Samuel
Godshall, of Downingtown, Chester County, Pennsylvania, while
walking upon the road, was seized by two men, a plaster put
upon her mouth, and she taken in a close carriage in the
direction of Maryland. After going twelve miles, they put her
out of the carriage, "in a secluded and woody portion of the
country, threatening to kill her if she made any alarm, when
they drove away as fast as they could." Some colored people
met her, got the plaster off her mouth, and aided her
home. It was supposed the kidnappers mistook her for a
mulatto girl; but discovering their blunder dismissed
her.--Philadelphia Ledger, July 9, 1855.
The Norristown (Penn.) Herald relates a case similar to the
preceding. Benjamin Johnson, a white lad of fifteen, on his
way from his father's, at Evansburg, to S. Jarrett's, near
Jeffersonville, was invited to ride by a man in a carriage.
The man took him by an unusual route; night coming on, the
boy was alarmed and attempted to escape, "when the villain
caught him and drove off at full speed, and by threats and
blows prevented him from making any alarm." He drove to a
distance of fifteen miles beyond Jeffersonville, when the boy
succeeded in making his escape. (July, 1855.)
JANE JOHNSON, and her two sons, (colored,) brought into
Philadelphia (on their way to New York and thence to
Nicaragua) by John H. Wheeler. Stopped to dine at Bloodgood's
Hotel. Jane there made known her desire to be free.
Information of the same was conveyed to Passmore Williamson,
Secretary of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, an old
association founded by Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Rush, and
others. Mr. Williamson went to the hotel, and found that the
party had gone to the steamboat, at the foot of Walnut
Street. He proceeded thither, found them, and told the mother
that she and her sons had been legally made free by being
brought by their master into a free State. After some delay,
Jane rose to leave the boat. Wheeler endeavored to detain
her. Williamson held Wheeler back, and the woman went on
shore, a number of colored persons taking up the boys and
carrying them from the boat. They were enabled to escape.
(July 18, 1855.)
The celebrated case of PASSMORE WILLIAMSON followed, before
Judge Kane, of the United States District Court. (See "Case
of Passmore Williamson," reported in full, and published in
Philadelphia, by Uriah Hunt & Son, 1856.) On the 27th July,
Mr. Williamson was committed to Moyamensing Prison, by Judge
Kane, "for a contempt of the court in refusing to answer to
the writ of habeas corpus;" Mr. W. having answered that
he had not, and never had had, the custody of the three
alleged slaves, and therefore could not produce them in
court. Mr. Williamson was kept in prison until November 3d,
when he was discharged by Judge Kane, the technical
"contempt" having been removed.
CELESTE, a mulatto woman, claimed as a slave, before Judge
Burgoyne, Cincinnati, Ohio. It appeared that she was
brought to Cincinnati by her master, and she was set
free.--Cincinnati Gazette, July 7, 1855.
Two fugitives, in Indiana, (September, 1855,) requested aid
of the conductor of the Madison and Indianapolis Railroad.
The aid given was to take them back to Madison, whence they
were conveyed over the river to Kentucky. Before leaving that
State they had been hunted and attacked by dogs. These they
had despatched with their knives. The conductor was dismissed
from his position. An agent of the express company was said
to have aided him in the surrender of the men.--Madison
JACK, a colored boy, nine years of age, "claimed by Joseph
Tucker, of Mobile, as his slave, was sent back to his master
from Boston, in the brig Selma, Captain Rogers, on the 18th
inst." (October, 1855.)--Boston Times.
JACOB GREEN, a colored man, was seized near Hollidaysburg,
Pennsylvania, by one Parsons, as a fugitive slave.
Parsons could show no authority for detaining Green, who,
with the help of some bystanders, released himself and
escaped.--Hollidaysburg Standard, October 24, 1855.
Four men indicted for kidnapping at Greensburg, Indiana,
in the Spring of 1855. Their names--David and Thomas Maple,
Morrison, and McCloskey. Charged with kidnapping two men,
whom they conveyed to a slave state, and sold as slaves. The
two Maples, fearing the indictment, absconded. The other two
were arrested, and brought to trial in October, 1855, at the
State Court, before Judge Logan. "Defendants' counsel moved
to quash the indictment, for the reason that the section of
the statute of Indiana against kidnapping was in violation of
the acts of Congress, and, therefore, void; and the Court
accordingly quashed the indictment"--Indianapolis Journal.
Eight fugitives from Kentucky reached Adams County, Ohio,
closely followed by several Kentuckians, who attempted to
search the houses of several of the citizens. "The people,
indignant at this outrage, assembled with arms, and placed an
injunction upon these summary proceedings." "The men-hunters
then offered $2,000 to any traitor who would betray the
fugitives into their hands. But, so far as we have learned,
the bribe was as unsuccessful as the attempted search."
(November, 1855.)--Carroll Free Press.
At Wilson's Corner, Bensalem, Buck's County, Pa., Dec. 13,
1855, a colored man in the employ of John Henderson was
seized by three men, who tied him, threw him into a wagon,
and drove off at full speed. They were seen, and quickly
followed by men on horseback. After two hours' hard riding,
the kidnappers were overtaken. A fight ensued--the black man
was released; when three pistol-shots were fired by the
kidnappers, killing a horse, and wounding one of the rescuing
party severely. A statement of the facts was published, as
an advertisement, in the Philadelphia Ledger, signed by
William Williams and John Henderson.
"Two very bright mulatto girls," says the Staunton (Va.)
Spectator, "one belonging to Mr. John Churchman, and the
other to the estate of Colonel Crawford, deceased, took the
cars at Staunton, on the morning of December 30, 1855, and
made their way successfully to Baltimore, en route for a free
State. At Baltimore they were detected just as they were
about to take the train for Philadelphia, and information of
their arrest was immediately forwarded to D. Churchman, of
this place." On the following Friday they were taken back to
Virginia. "They were so nearly white that their success in
imposing upon the conductors of the cars is not astonishing,
and the only wonder is that they were detected at all. Since
their return, the negro girls have been sold--Mr. Churchman's
for $1,050, and the other for $950."
FANNY, a colored child of fire years old, was taken from
Chicago, Illinois, into Tennessee, and sold for $250. A man
named F.M. Chapman, with his servant William R. Tracy, were
arrested as the kidnappers, and taken before Justice DeWolf.
Chapman claimed to have owned the child in Arkansas, and to
have brought her to Illinois [thereby making her free.] He
procured Tracy to take the child to Tennessee and sell her.
The result of the case not known. (January, 1856.)
Two fugitives, passing through Ohio, (January, 1856,) were
closely pursued and nearly overtaken at Columbus, Ohio. "Ten
minutes previous warning only saved the fugitives from their
pursuers." Deputy Marshal J. Underwood, being called on to
act in the case, refused, and resigned his office, saying, he
did not expect to be "called upon to help execute the odious
Fugitive Slave Law."--Cincinnati Commercial.
[--> The following may, not improperly, find a place here.]
The House of Delegates of Virginia, early in 1856, adopted
the following:--"Be it resolved by the General Assembly,
That our Representatives in Congress are requested, and our
Senators be and are hereby instructed, to secure the passage
of a law making full compensation to all owners whose slaves
have or may hereafter escape into any of the non-slaveholding
States of this Union, and there be withheld from those to
whom such service or labor may be due."
Fourteen persons of color, held at Los Angelos, California,
early in 1856, as the servants of one Robert Smith, were
brought before Judge Benjamin Hays, on a writ of habeas
corpus. Smith alleged that he formerly resided in
Mississippi, where he owned these persons; was now about to
remove to Texas, and designed to take these persons with him
as his slaves. Judge Hays decided that they were all free,
and those under twenty-one years of age were placed in the
charge of the sheriff, as their special guardian.--Los
Angelos Star. The opinion of Judge Hays (who was said to be
a native of South Carolina,) is a very able one, and under
the circumstances, of much interest. It may be found in the
Standard, of April 5, 1856.
Two colored lads, named RALLS and LOGAN, living in
Cincinnati, were kidnapped thence by two men, named Orr and
Simpkins, and taken to St. Louis, Missouri, where the men
tried to sell them. The men were arrested as kidnappers.
The Decatur (Illinois) Chronicle states that "a man charged
with being a fugitive slave was recently arrested at that
place and carried off, no one knows where. The sheriff of the
county was the willing instrument in the hands of the
claimants; no attempt to appeal to the law was made, the
negro being carried off as if he were a stray horse or dog."
The Chicago Tribune says: "If this is a true statement of
the affair, that sheriff has laid himself liable to the
charge of kidnapping, and should at once be proceeded against
with such rigor as his offence demands." (April, 1856.)
MARGARET GARNER and seven others, at Cincinnati, Ohio, January,
1856. Of this recent and peculiarly painful case we give a somewhat
detailed account, mainly taken from the Cincinnati papers of the
About ten o'clock on Sunday, 27th January, 1856, a
party of eight slaves--two men, two women, and four
children--belonging to Archibald K. Gaines and John Marshall,
of Richwood Station, Boone County, Kentucky, about sixteen
miles from Covington, escaped from their owners. Three of the
party are father, mother, and son, whose names are Simon,
Mary, and Simon, Jr.; the others are Margaret, wife of Simon,
Jr., and her four children. The three first are the property
of Marshall, and the others of Gaines.
They took a sleigh and two horses belonging to Mr. Marshall,
and drove to the river bank, opposite Cincinnati, and crossed
over to the city on the ice. They were missed a few hours
after their flight, and Mr. Gaines, springing on a horse,
followed in pursuit. On reaching the river shore, he learned
that a resident had found the horses standing in the road. He
then crossed over to the City, and after a few hours diligent
inquiry, he learned that his slaves were in a house about a
quarter of a mile below the Mill Creek Bridge, on the river
road, occupied by a colored man named Kite.
He proceeded to the office of United States Commissioner John
L. Pendery, and procuring the necessary warrants, with United
States Deputy Marshal Ellis, and a large body of assistants,
went on Monday to the place where his fugitives were
concealed. Arriving at the premises, word was sent to the
fugitives to surrender. A firm and decided negative was the
response. The officers, backed by a large crowd, then made a
descent. Breaking open the doors, they were assailed by the
negroes with cudgels and pistols. Several shots were fired,
but only one took effect, so far as we could ascertain. A
bullet struck a man named John Patterson, one of the
Marshal's deputies; tearing off a finger of his right hand,
and dislocating several of his teeth. No other of the
officers were injured, the negroes being rendered powerless
before they could reload their weapons.
On looking around, horrible was the sight which met the
officers' eyes. In one corner of the room was a nearly white
child, bleeding to death. Her throat was cut from ear to ear,
and the blood was spouting out profusely, showing that the
deed was but recently committed. Scarcely was this fact
noticed, when a scream issuing from an adjoining room drew
their attention thither. A glance into the apartment revealed
a negro woman holding in her hand a knife literally dripping
with gore, over the heads of two little negro children, who
were crouched to the floor, and uttering the cries whose
agonized peals had first startled them. Quickly the knife was
wrested from the hand of the excited woman, and a more close
investigation instituted as to the condition, of the infants.
They were discovered to be cut across the head and
shoulders, but not very seriously injured, although the blood
trickled down their backs and upon their clothes.
The woman avowed herself the mother of the children, and said
that she had killed one and would like to kill the three
others, rather than see them again reduced to slavery! By
this time the crowd about the premises had become prodigious,
and it was with no inconsiderable difficulty that the negroes
were secured in carriages, and brought to the United States
District Court-rooms, on Fourth Street. The populace followed
the vehicle closely, but evinced no active desire to effect a
rescue. Rumors of the story soon circulated all over the
city. Nor were they exaggerated, as is usually the case. For
once, reality surpassed the wildest thought of fiction.
The slaves, on reaching the marshal's office, seated
themselves around the stove with dejected countenances, and
preserved a moody silence, answering all questions propounded
to them in monosyllables, or refusing to answer at all. Simon
is apparently about fifty-five years of age, and Mary about
fifty. The son of Mr. Marshall, who is here, in order, if
possible, to recover the property of his father, says that
they have always been faithful servants, and have frequently
been on this side of the river. Simon, Jr., is a young man,
about twenty-two years old, of a very lithe and active form,
and rather a mild and pleasant countenance. Margaret is a
dark mulatto, twenty-three years of age; her countenance is
far from being vicious, and her senses, yesterday, appeared
partially stultified from the exciting trials she had
endured. After remaining about two hours at the marshal's
office, Commissioner Pendery announced that the slaves would
be removed to the custody of the United States Marshal until
nine o'clock Tuesday morning, when the case would come up for
The slaves were then taken down stairs to the street-door,
when a wild and exciting scene presented itself; the
sidewalks and the middle of the street were thronged with
people, and a couple of coaches were at the door in order to
convey the captives to the station-house. The slaves were
guarded by a strong posse of officers, and as they made their
appearance on the street, it was evident that there was a
strong sympathy in their favor. When they were led to the
carriage-doors, there were loud cries of "Drive on!" "Don't
take them!" The coachmen, either from alarm or from a
sympathetic feeling, put the whip to their horses, and drove
rapidly off, leaving the officers with their fugitives on the
sidewalk. They started on foot with their charge to the
Hammond Street station-house, where they secured their
prisoners for the night.
The slaves claimed that they had been on this side of the
river frequently, by consent of their masters.
About three o'clock application was made to Judge Burgoyne
for a writ of habeas corpus, to bring the slaves before
him. This was put in the hands of Deputy Sheriff Buckingham
to serve, who, accompanied by several assistants, proceeded
to Hammond Street station-house, where the slaves were
lodged. Mr. Bennett, Deputy United States Marshal, was
unwilling to give them up, and a long time was spent
parleying between the marshal and the sheriff's officers. The
sheriff being determined that the writ should be executed,
Mr. Bennett went out to take counsel with his friends.
Finally, through the advice of Mayor Faran, Mr. Bennett
agreed to lodge the slaves in the jail, ready to be taken out
at the order of Judge Burgoyne. Mr. Buckingham obtained the
complete control of the slaves.
On the morning of the 29th, Sheriff Brashears, being advised
by lawyers that Judge Burgoyne had no right to issue his writ
for the slaves, and remembering Judge McLean's decision in
the Rosetta case, made a return on the writ of habeas
corpus, that the slaves were in the custody of the United
States Marshal, and, therefore, without his jurisdiction.
This returned the slaves to the custody of the Marshal. By
agreement, the parties permitted the slaves to remain in the
county jail during that day, with the understanding that
their examination should commence the next morning, before
Commissioner Pendery. An inquest had been held on the body of
the child which was killed, and a verdict was found by the
jury charging the death of the child upon the mother, who it
was said would be held under the laws of Ohio to answer the
charge of murder. An examination took place on Wednesday,
before the United States Commissioner. Time was allowed their
counsel to obtain evidence to show that they had been brought
into the State at former times by their masters. A meeting of
citizens was held on Thursday evening, to express sympathy
with the alleged fugitives.
The Cincinnati Commercial of January 30, said:--The mother
is of an interesting appearance, a mulatto of considerable
intelligence of manner, and with a good address. In reply to
a gentleman who yesterday complimented her upon the looks of
her little boy, she said, "You should have seen my little
girl that--that--[she did not like to say, was killed]--that
died, that was the bird."
The Cincinnati Gazette, of January 30, said:--We learn that
the mother of the dead child acknowledges that she had killed
it, and that her determination was to have killed all the
children, and then destroy herself, rather than return to
slavery. She and the others complain of cruel treatment on
the part of their master, and allege that as the cause of
their attempted escape.
The coroner's jury, after examining the citizens present at
the time of the arrest, went to the jail last evening, and
examined the grandmother of the child--one of the slaves. She
testified that the mother, when she saw they would be
captured, caught a butcher knife and ran to the children,
saying she would kill them rather than to have them return to
slavery, and cut the throat of the child, calling on the
grandmother to help her kill them. The grandmother said she
would not do it, and hid under a bed.
The jury gave a verdict as follows:--That said child was
killed by its mother, Margaret Garner, with a butcher knife,
with which she cut its throat.
Two of the jurors also find that the two men arrested as
fugitives were accessories to the murder.
"The murdered child was almost white, and was a little girl
of rare beauty."
The examination of witnesses was continued until Monday,
February 4, when the commissioner listened to the arguments
of counsel until February 7th. Messrs. Jolliffe and Gitchell
appeared for the fugitives, and Colonel Chambers, of
Cincinnati, and Mr. Finnell, of Covington, Kentucky, for the
claimants of the slaves. A great number of assistants,
(amounting very nearly to five hundred,) were employed by the
United States Marshal, H.H. Robinson, from the first, making
the expenses to the United States Government very large; for
their twenty-eight days' service alone, at $2.00 per day,
amounting to over $22,000. February 8th, the case was closed,
so far as related to the three slaves of Mr. Marshall, but
the decision was postponed. The examination in regard to
MARGARET and her children was farther continued. It was
publicly stated that Commissioner Pendery had declared that
he "would not send the woman back into slavery while a charge
or indictment for murder lay against her." Colonel Chambers,
counsel for the slave-claimants, in his argument, "read
long extracts from a pamphlet entitled, 'A Northern
Presbyter's Second Letter to Ministers of the Gospel of all
Denominations, on Slavery, by Nathan Lord, of Dartmouth
College,' approving and recommending Dr. Lord's views."
Colonel Chambers having alluded, in his remarks, to Mrs. Lucy
Stone Blackwell, and said that she had sought to give a knife
to Margaret Garner, the Court gave permission to Mrs.
Blackwell to reply to Colonel C. Mrs. B. preferred not to
speak at the bar, but addressed the crowded court-room
directly after the adjournment. Her eloquent remarks will be
found in the papers of the day. At the close of the hearing,
February 14th, the commissioner adjourned his court to the
21st, afterwards to the 26th, when, he said, he would give
Meantime the case was making some progress in the State
courts. Sheriff Brashears having made return to the Common
Pleas Court that the fugitives were in the custody of the
United States Marshal, Judge Carter said this could not be
received as a true return, as they were in the County jail,
under the sheriff's control. The sheriff then amended his
return, so as to state that the prisoners were in his
custody, as required in the writ, and this was received by
the Court. The fugitives now came fully into the charge of
the State authorities. The sheriff held them "by virtue of a
capias issued on an indictment by the grand jury for
The slaves declared they would go dancing to the gallows
rather than to be sent back into slavery.
On the 26th February, Commissioner Pendery gave his decision.
First, he refused to discharge Margaret and three others from
the custody of the United States Marshal and deliver them to
the Sheriff of Hamilton County, although held to answer,
under the laws of Ohio, to the charge of murder. He then
proceeded to consider the claim of Marshall to three of the
slaves, decided it to be valid, and ordered them into
Marshall's custody. He then considered Gaines's claim to
Margaret and her three surviving children, decided that also
to be good and valid, and ordered them to be delivered into
the possession of said Gaines.
The case of the rightful custody, as between the United
States Marshal and the Ohio Sheriff also came on, February
26th before Judge Leavitt, of the United States District
Court, and was argued by counsel on both sides. On the 28th,
Judge Leavitt decided that the custody was with the United
States Marshal. The substance of Judge L.'s argument and
decision is found in the following extract.
"Judge McLean says: 'Neither this nor any other Court of the
United States, nor Judge thereof, can issue a habeas corpus
to bring up a prisoner who is in custody under the sentence
or execution of a State Court, for any other purpose than to
be used as a witness. And it is immaterial whether the
imprisonment be under civil or criminal process.' If it be
true, as there asserted, that no Federal Court can interfere
with the exercise of the proper jurisdiction of a State
Court, either in a civil or criminal case, the converse of
the proposition is equally true. And it results that a State
Court cannot take from an officer of the United States, even
on a criminal charge, the custody of a person in execution on
a civil case.
"It is said in argument that if these persons cannot be held
by the arrest of the Sheriff under the State process, the
rights and dignity of Ohio are invaded without the
possibility of redress. I cannot concur in this view. The
Constitution and laws of the United States provide for a
reclamation of these persons, by a demand on the Executive of
Kentucky. It is true, if now remanded to the claimant and
taken back to Kentucky as slaves, they cannot be said to have
fled from justice in Ohio; but it would clearly be a case
within the spirit and intention of the Constitution and the
Act of Congress, and I trust nothing would be hazarded by the
prediction that upon demand properly made upon the Governor
of Kentucky, he would order them to be surrendered to the
authorities of Ohio to answer to its violated law. I am sure
it is not going too far to say that if the strictness of the
law did not require this, an appeal to comity would not be in
Mr. Chambers said his client, Mr. Gaines, authorized him to
say that he would hold the woman Margaret, who had killed her
child, subject to the requisition of the Governor of Ohio, to
answer for any crime she might have committed in Ohio.
Judge Leavitt's decision covered the cases of the four adult
fugitives. Another legal process was going on, at the same
time, before Judge Burgoyne, of the Probate Court, viz.--a
hearing under a writ of habeas corpus allowed by Judge
Burgoyne, alleging the illegal detention, by the United
States Marshal, of the three negro children, Samuel, Thomas,
and Silla Garner, which took place in the Probate Court,
before Judge B., on the afternoon of February 27.
Mr. Jolliffe said he represented the infants at the request
of their father and mother, who had solicited him to save the
children, if possible.
Messrs. Headington and Ketchum appeared for the United States
Judge Burgoyne intimated that, in view of the serious and
important questions involved, he should require some time to
render a decision. He intimated, however, that a majority of
the Judges of the Supreme Court having passed on the
constitutionality of the Fugitive Slave Law was no reason why
he should not take up the Constitution and read it for
himself, being sworn to support the Constitution of the
United States and the Constitution of the State of Ohio.
Mr. Ketchum suggested that his Honor was as much bound in
conscience to regard the decision of the majority of the
Judges of the United States Courts as the express provisions
of the Constitution itself.
Judge Burgoyne said, that however the decisions of the Judges
of the United States Courts might aid him in coming to a
conclusion, where the obligations of his conscience were
involved, he could not screen himself behind a decision made
by somebody else.
Judge Burgoyne subsequently decided that, in as far as the
Fugitive Slave Law was intended to suspend the writ of
habeas corpus--and he believed that it was so intended--it
clearly transcended the limits prescribed by the
Constitution, and is "utterly void." Judge B. required the
United States Marshal to answer to the writ on the following
Friday; and on his neglect to do so, fined and imprisoned
him. Judge Leavitt, of the United States Court, soon released
the Marshal from prison.
The Cincinnati Columbian, of February 29, gave the
following account:--The last act of the drama of the
fugitives was yesterday performed by the rendition of the
seven persons whose advent into the city, under the bloody
auspices of murder, caused such a sensation in the community.
After the decision of Judge Leavitt, Sheriff Brashears
surrendered the four fugitives in his custody, under a
capias from an Ohio court, to United States Marshal
Robinson. An omnibus was brought to the jail, and the
fugitives were led into it--a crowd of spectators looking on.
Margaret was in custody of Deputy-Marshal Brown. She appeared
greatly depressed and dispirited. The little infant, Silla,
was carried by Pfc. Russell, the door-keeper of the United
States Court, and was crying violently. Pollock, the reporter
of the proceedings in the United States Court, conducted
another of the fugitives, and all were safely lodged in the
omnibus, which drove down to the Covington ferry-boat; but,
although a large crowd followed it, no hootings or other
signs of excitement or disapprobation were shown.
On arriving at the Kentucky shore, a large crowd was in
attendance, which expressed its pleasure at the termination
of the long proceedings in this city by triumphant shouts.
The fugitives were escorted to the jail, where they were
safely incarcerated, and the crowd moved off to the Magnolia
Hotel, where several toasts were given and drank. The crowd
outside were addressed from the balcony by H.H. Robinson,
Esq., United States Marshal for the Southern District of
Ohio, who declared that he had done his duty and no more, and
that it was a pleasure to him to perform an act that added
another link to the glorious chain that bound the Union.
[What a Union! For what "glorious" purposes!]
Mr. Finnell, attorney for the claimants, said he never loved
the Union so dearly as now. It was proved to be a substantial
Judge Flinn also addressed to the crowd one of his peculiar
orations; and was followed by Mr. Gaines, owner of Margaret
and the children. After hearty cheering the crowd dispersed.
Further to signalize their triumph, the slaveholders set on
the Covington mob to attack Mr. Babb, reporter for one of the
Cincinnati papers, on the charge of being an abolitionist,
and that gentleman was knocked down, kicked, trampled on,
and would undoubtedly have been murdered, but for the
interference of some of the United States Deputy Marshals.
A legal irregularity on the part of the Sheriff was brought
to the notice of Judge Carter on the morning of February 29.
It was passed over lightly.
On the Sunday after the delivery of the slaves, they were
visited in the Covington jail by Rev. P.C. Bassett, whose
account of his interview, especially with Margaret, was
published in the American Baptist, and may also be found in
the National Antislavery Standard of March 15, 1850.
Margaret confessed that she had killed the child. "I
inquired," says Mr. Bassett, "if she were not excited almost
to madness when she committed the act! 'No,' she replied, 'I
was as cool as I now am; and would much rather kill them at
once, and thus end their sufferings, than have them taken
back to slavery and be murdered by piece-meal.' She then told
the story of her wrongs. She spoke of her days of suffering,
of her nights of unmitigated toil, while the bitter tears
coursed their way down her cheeks."
Governor Chase, of Ohio, made a requisition upon Governor
Morehead, of Kentucky, for the surrender of Margaret Garner,
charged with murder. The requisition was taken by Joseph
Cooper, Esq. to Gov. Morehead, at Frankfort, on the 6th of
March--an unpardonable delay in the circumstances. Gov.
Morehead issued an order for the surrender of Margaret. On
taking it to Louisville, Mr. Cooper found that Margaret, with
her infant child, and the rest of Mr. Gaines's slaves had
been sent down the river in the steamboat Henry Lewis, to be
sold in Arkansas. Thus it was that Gaines kept his pledged
word that Margaret should be surrendered upon the requisition
of the Governor of Ohio! On the passage down the Ohio, the
steamboat, in which the slaves were embarked, came in
collision with another boat, and so violently that Margaret
and her child, with many others, were thrown into the water.
About twenty-five persons perished. A colored man seized
Margaret and drew her back to the boat, but her babe was
drowned! "The mother," says a correspondent of the
Louisville Courier, "exhibited no other feeling than joy at
the loss of her child." So closed another act of this
terrible tragedy. The slaves were transferred to another
boat, and taken to their destination. (See Mr. Cooper's
letter to Gov. Chase, dated Columbus, March 11, 1856.) Almost
immediately on the above tragic news, followed the tidings
that Gaines had determined to bring Margaret back to
Covington, Kentucky, and hold her subject to the requisition
of the Governor of Ohio. Evidently he could not stand up
under the infamy of his conduct. Margaret was brought back,
and placed in Covington jail, to await a requisition. On
Wednesday, Mr. Cox, the prosecuting-attorney, received the
necessary papers from Gov. Chase, and the next day
(Thursday), two of the Sheriffs deputies went over to
Covington for Margaret, but did not find her, as she had been
taken away from the jail the night before. The jailor said he
had given her up on Wednesday night, to a man who came there
with a written order from her master, Gaines, but could not
tell where she had been taken. The officers came back and
made a return 'not found.'
The Cincinnati Gazette said,--"On Friday our sheriff
received information which induced him to believe that she
had been sent on the railroad to Lexington, thence via
Frankfort to Louisville, there to be shipped off to the New
Orleans slave market.
He immediately telegraphed to the sheriff at Louisville (who
holds the original warrant from Gov. Morehead, granted on the
requisition of Gov. Chase,) to arrest her there, and had a
deputy in readiness to go down for her. But he has received
no reply to his dispatch. As she was taken out on Wednesday
night, there is reason to apprehend that she has already
passed Louisville, and is now on her way to New Orleans.
Why Mr. Gaines brought Margaret back at all, we cannot
comprehend. If it was to vindicate his character, he was most
unfortunate in the means he selected, for his duplicity has
now placed this in a worse light than ever before, and kept
before the public the miserable spectacle of his dishonor.
We have learned now, by experience, what is that boasted
comity of Kentucky on which Judge Leavitt so earnestly
advised Ohio to rely."
The assertion of the Louisville Journal, that Margaret was
kept in Covington jail "ten days," and that the Ohio
authorities had been notified of the same, is pronounced to
be untrue in both particulars by the Cincinnati Gazette,
which paper also declares that prompt action was taken by the
governor of Ohio, and the attorney and sheriff of Hamilton
County, as soon as the fact was known.
Here we must leave MARGARET, a noble woman indeed, whose
heroic spirit and daring have won the willing, and extorted
the unwilling, admiration of hundreds of thousands. Alas for
her! after so terrible a struggle, so bloody a sacrifice, so
near to deliverance once, twice, and even a third time, to
be, by the villainy and lying or her "respectable" white
owner again engulphed in the abyss of Slavery! What her fate
is to be, it is not hard to conjecture. But friendless,
heart-stricken, robbed of her children, outraged as she has
been, not wholly without friends,
"Yea, three firm friends, more sure than day and night,
Herself, her Maker, and the angel Death."
* * * * *
Extract from a sermon recently delivered in Cleveland, Ohio, by Rev.
H. BUSHNELL, from the following text: "And it was so, that all that
saw it, said, There was no such deed done nor seen from the day that
the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt unto this
day: CONSIDER OF IT, TAKE ADVICE, AND SPEAK YOUR MINDS."--JUDGES
A few weeks ago, just at dawn of day, might be seen a company
of strangers crossing the winter bridge over the Ohio River,
from the State of Kentucky, into the great city of our own
State, whose hundred church-spires point to heaven, telling
the travellers that in this place the God of Abraham was
worshipped, and that here Jesus the Messiah was known, and
his religion of love taught and believed. And yet, no one
asked them in or offered them any hospitality, or sympathy,
or assistance. After wandering from street to street, a poor
laboring man gave them the shelter of his humble cabin, for
they were strangers and in distress. Soon it was known abroad
that this poor man had offered them the hospitalities of his
home, and a rude and ferocious rabble soon gathered around
his dwelling, demanding his guests. With loud clamor and
horrid threatening they broke down his doors, and rushed upon
the strangers. They were an old man and his wife, their
daughter and her husband with four children; and they were of
the tribe of slaves fleeing from a bondage which was worse
than death. There was now no escape--the tribes of Israel had
banded against them. On the side of the oppressor there is
power. And the young wife and mother, into whose very soul
the iron had entered, hearing the cry of the master: "Now
we'll have you all!" turning from the side of her husband and
father, with whom she had stood to repel the foe, seized a
knife, and with a single blow nearly severed the head from
the body of her darling daughter, and throwing its bloody
corpse at his feet, exclaimed, "Yes, you shall have us all!
take that!" and with another blow inflicted a ghastly wound
upon the head of her beautiful son, repeating, "Yes, you
shall have us all--take that!" meanwhile calling upon her
old mother to help her in the quick work of emancipation--for
there were two more. But the pious old grandmother could not
do it, and it was now too late--the rescuers had subdued and
bound them. They were on their way back to the house of their
bondage--a life more bitter than death! On their way through
that city of churches whose hundred spires told of Jesus and
the good Father above; on their way amid the throng of
Christian men, whose noble sires had said and sung, "Give me
liberty, or give me death."
But they all tarried in the great Queen City of the West--in
chains, and in a felon's cell. There our preacher visited
them again and again. There he saw the old grandfather and
his aged companion, whose weary pilgrimage of unrequited toil
and tears was nearly at its end. And there stood the young
father and the heroic wife "Margaret." Said the preacher,
"Margaret, why did you kill your child?" "It was my own," she
said, "given me of God, to do the best a mother could in its
behalf. I have done the best I could! I would have done
more and better for the rest! I knew it was better for them
to go home to God than back to slavery." "But why did you not
trust in God--why not wait and hope?" "I did wait, and then
we dared to do, and fled in fear, but in hope; hope fled--God
did not appear to save--I did the best I could!"
And who was this woman? A noble, womanly, amiable,
affectionate mother. "But was she not deranged?" Not at
all--calm, intelligent, but resolute and determined. "But was
she not fiendish, or beside herself with passion?" No, she
was most tender and affectionate, and all her passion was
that of a mother's fondest love. I reasoned with her, said
the preacher; tried to awaken a sense of guilt, and lead her
to repentance and to Christ. But there was no remorse, no
desire of pardon, no reception of Christ or his religion. To
her it was a religion of slavery, more cruel than death.
And where had she lived? where thus taught? Not down among
the rice swamps of Georgia, or on the banks of Red River. No,
but within sixteen miles of the Queen City of the West! In a
nominally Christian family--whose master was most liberal in
support of the Gospel, and whose mistress was a communicant
at the Lord's table, and a professed follower of Christ!
Here, in this family, where slavery is found in its mildest
form, she had been kept in ignorance of God's will and word,
and learned to know that the mildest form of American
slavery, at this day of Christian civilization and Democratic
liberty, was worse than death itself! She had learned by an
experience of many years, that it was so bad she had rather
take the life of her own dearest child, without the hope of
Heaven for herself, than that it should experience its
unutterable agonies, which were to be found even in a
Christian family! But here are her two little boys, of eight
and ten years of age. Taking the eldest boy by the hand, the
preacher said to him, kindly and gently, "Come here, my boy;
what is your name?" "Tom, sir." "Yes, Thomas." "No sir,
Tom." "Well, Tom, how old are you?" "Three months." "And
how old is your little brother?" "Six months, sir!" "And
have you no other name but Tom?" "No." "What is your father's
name?" "Haven't got any!" "Who made you, Tom?" "Nobody!" "Did
you ever hear of God or Jesus Christ?" "No, sir." And this
was slavery in its best estate. By and by the aged couple,
and the young man and his wife, the remaining children, with
the master, and the dead body of the little one, were
escorted through the streets of the Queen City of the West by
a national guard of armed men, back to the great and
chivalrous State of old Kentucky and away to the shambles of
the South--back to a life-long servitude of hopeless despair.
It was a long, sad, silent procession down to the banks of
the Ohio; and as it passed, the death-knell of freedom tolled
heavily. The sovereignty of Ohio trailed in the dust beneath
the oppressor's foot, and the great confederacy of the tribes
of modern Israel attended the funeral obsequies, and made
ample provision for the necessary expenses! "And it was so,
that all that saw it, said, There was no such deed done, nor
seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of
the land of Egypt unto this day; CONSIDER OF IT, TAKE
ADVICE, AND SPEAK YOUR MINDS!"
* * * * *
With the sad case of MARGARET GARNER we close, for the present, the
record of the Fugitive Slave Law, as its history has been daily
writing itself in our country's annals. Enactment of hell! which has
marked every step of its progress over the land by suffering and by
crimes,--crimes of the bloodiest dye, groanings which cannot fully
be uttered; which is tracked by the dripping blood of its victims,
by their terrors and by their despair; against which, and against
that Wicked Nation which enacted it, and which suffers it still to
stand as their LAW, the cries of the down-trodden poor go up
continually into the ears of God,--cries of bitterest anguish,
mingled with fiercest execrations--thousands of Rachels weeping for
their children, and will not be comforted, because they are not.
Reader, is your patriotism of the kind which believes, with the
supporters of old monarchies, that the Sovereign Power can do no
wrong? Consider the long record which has been laid before you, and
say if your country has not enacted a most wicked, cruel, and
shameful law, which merits only the condemnation and abhorrence of
every heart. Consider that this law was aimed at the life, liberty,
and happiness of the poor and least-privileged portion of our
people--a class whom the laws should befriend, protect, and raise
up. What is the true character of a law, whose working, whose fruits
are such as this meagre outline of its history shows? Is it fit that
such deeds and such a law should have your sanction and support?
Will you remain in a moment's doubt whether to be a friend or a foe
to such a law? Will you countenance or support the man, in the
church or in the state, who is not its open and out-spoken opponent?
Will you not, rather, yourself trample it under foot, as alike the
disgrace of your country, the enemy of humanity, and the enemy of
God? And nobly join, with heart and hand, every honest man who seeks
to load with the opprobrium they deserve, the law itself and
everything that justifies and upholds it?
In this tract no mention is made of that great company of slaves
who, flying from their intolerable wrongs and burdens, are overtaken
before reaching the Free States--(alas, that we should mock
ourselves with this empty name of free!)--and carried back into a
more remote and hopeless slavery; nor of the thousands who, having
fled in former years, and established themselves in industry and
comfort in the Northern States, were compelled again to become
fugitives, leaving their little all behind them, into a still more
Northern land where, under British law, they find at last a
resting-place and protection; nor to any great extent of the
numerous cases of white citizens, prosecuted, fined, harassed in
every way, for the crime of giving shelter and succor to the
hunted wanderers. To have included these--all emphatically victims
of the Fugitive Slave Law--would swell our tract into a volume. What
a testimony against our land and our people is given by their
accumulated weight! EVERY LIVING MAN AND WOMAN is GUILTY OF THIS
GREAT SIN, WHO EITHER BY APOLOGY, OR BY SILENCE, LENDS IT THE LEAST
--> In a record like the foregoing, dealing so largely with facts
and dates, perfect accuracy is not to be expected, although much
pains have been taken to make it strictly correct. Any information,
on good authority, which will help to make the record more exact,
or more complete, will be very gratefully received. It should be
addressed to SAMUEL MAY, JR., No. 21 Cornhill, Boston, Mass.
* * * * *
Published at the office of the AMERICAN ANTI-SLAVERY SOCIETY,
No. 138 Nassau Street, New York. Also to be had at the Anti-Slavery
Offices, No. 21 Cornhill, Boston, and No. 31 North Fifth Street,
Philadelphia; of JOEL McMILLAN, Salem, Columbiana Co., Ohio, and
of JACOB WALTON, Jr., Adrian, Michigan.