The Cleveland Daily Herald
Cleveland, April 13, 1859
The Rescue Case.
Eighth Day – Morning Session.
The argument of A.G. Riddle for the defence was resumed. Mr. Riddle recapitulated in brief the arguments made by him just previous to adjournment yesterday, and then continued:
There is no legal evidence to show that the mother of John was a slave. John G. Bacon had five brothers and sisters.
The boy John is claimed to have been the slave of John G. BaconÕs father, and there is no proof but what, by the laws of Kentucky, the property of the father descends to the six children in common.
It is not actually proved whether John ran away with the horse or the horse with John. – As both were property the presumption is equally in favor of one idea as the other.
The indictment sets forth that the power of attorney was acknowledged before a proper clerk of the court. The document itself shows that it was acknowledged before a deputy, and it has not been shown the he had power to such acknowledgment.
The act is a judicial function, and cannot be exercised by a deputy. If it be decided that the deputy can exercise the duties of his principal, it has not been shown that the deputy in question according to the law of Kentucky, is an officer of the Court.
The indictment claims that the boy John was seized under authority of the power of attorney. Instead of going to Oberlin and seizing the boy under that document, Jennings took a warrant out and did not use the power of attorney again except to show that the warrant was rightfully issued. No one can deputize another to capture a slave except by power of attorney, nor can the first agent under power of attorney deputize his power to another. Lowe came to capture the boy because compelled to do so by the process of Court. Neither he, nor any man between the lake and river, would consent to engage in such a business unless compelled to do so by official position.
Jennings took no part in the capture but remained at the tavern with the power of attorney in his side pocket, and was there informed of the capture of the boy by the Marshal under the warrant. The fugitive Slave Act empowers the master to call on persons to assist him in the capture, but those persons must not act except in the presence and under the immediate direction of the owner. The boy was arrested by Davis under the directions of the Marshal, who acted solely under the warrant. The arrest was therefore illegal, as the power of attorney was not used in the matter at all. If the arrest was made in any way by virtue of the power of attorney, why was not Deputy Marshal Lowe and his assistant Davis place on the stand to testify to it? The only man who made such claim was the Witness Mitchell, who is contradicted in this particular by all the others, including even Jennings himself.
It claimed that the Marshal and Jennings had a joint interest in the capture of the negro, the former under the warrant and the latter under the power of attorney. This is absurd, as in that case the Marshal could only arrest the undivided half of the negro, whilst the warrant itself directs the return of the whole man. The two documents conflict with each other, and there can be no joint control under them.
Mr. Riddle recapitulated a portion of the evidence relative to the papers shown at Wellington by the captors of the boy, and then went on to call the attention of the jury to the fact that Jennings took no active part at Wellington. The Marshal was the one who confronted the crowd and exhibited his authority – which was not the power of attorney. When Marshal Lowe went out to address the crowd he read the warrant – a document which, now cannot, for some reason, be produced by the prosecution.
Mr. Riddle made a number of witty and humorous remarks relative to the ingratitude and wickedness of John in possessing a heart and obeying its promptings by escaping from the delightful state of Southern slavery, and recommended the indicting of the Ohio River for aiding the escape of John by freezing over. He then went on to call in question the evidence as to identity of the negro arrested with the one who escaped from John G. Bacon, and called attention to the fact that the boy who escaped was just at that age when the boy changes to the man, and yet, two years and a half afterwards, one of the witnesses claims to have recognized him at a glance. When he left Kentucky the boy was copper-colored, when he turns up at Oberlin, two years and nine months afterwards, Jennings himself swears he was black, profoundly black. The air of Oberlin has a peculiar effect, as it darkens the color of the skin. From five feet eight or ten inches he has dwarfed to five feet five inches. A copper-colored boy, five feet eight or ten inches high, weighing 160 pounds, called John, escapes. About three years afterwards they arrest a shining black man, five feel five inches high, weighing 135 to 140 pounds, called John Price, and say it is the same person.
Counsel remarked at length upon the story that John was made to tell in the room, to the effect that he wanted to go back to slavery. – John was instructed what to say, that he longed to back, that he had lost his Bacon long ago and he wanted to go back to Missus. But John, when he got out on the platform, said no such thing. He saw his friends and he said he supposed he must go back.
Wack says John was just going to say he wanted to go back, and that shows how they endeavored to make John say a certain lesson; what John said was what he was told to say, and when among his friends he unsaid it, and it amounts to nothing as to the question of identity. Mr. Riddle than compared the testimony as to JohnÕs height and color. If John had been BaconÕs slave he would have been on his guard against these men who were laying around for days. Yet he fell into the first trap set for him.
The Court here took a recess until 2 oÕclock. P.M.