The Cleveland Daily Herald
Cleveland, April 27, 1859
The Habeas Corpus Application.
Judge Spalding returned fro Columbus last evening (Tuesday) having concluded the arguments before the Supreme Court upon application for a writ of Habeas Corpus at noon yesterday. The Court took all the papers, authorities, briefs, &c., an went into consultation, and it is expected their decision will be made up to-day and pronounced at 10 o’clock on Thursday (tomorrow) morning.
The arguments have been made in full by Messrs. Belden and Swayne, for the Government, and by Judge Spalding, for the Relators, so that it is understood there is nothing more to be said and if the Court grant the writ it will be final, and will be for the discharge of the prisoners.
The Application for Habeas Corpus in the Rescue Cases.
The argument before the Supreme Court was concluded yesterday at noon, and the Court adjourned to Thursday morning. Noah H. Swayne Esq., on the part of the U.S. Marshal, occupied the forenoon with an able, lawyer-like argument, citing the cases in which the fugitive slave law had been held to be constitutional by both federal and State Courts and arguing that with so many decisions in its favor, and but one, the recent decision of Wisconsin, against its constitutionality, the question ought to be regarded as settled.
He argued, also, the question of constitutionality, de novo, without regard to adjudications, and held that the constitutional provision, that fugitives should be given up, granted to Congress all the powers requisite to carry out the provision. While he claimed that the law was constitutional, he did not assume to defend the policy of enacting so stringent a law, nor deny that great wrongs might grow out of it; wrongs which would be insufferable. Such was not yet the case, and therefore there was no such case for this Court to consider. When that emergency arrived, the emergency itself, as was always the case, would beget the proper remedy; the right of revolution was the only resort of the people when their wrongs from this law become intolerable.
Judge Spalding, for the applicants, occupied but about fifteen minutes in a forcible and eloquent rejoinder. He referred to the importance of the case now before the Court, involving the liberties of thirty-seven citizens of Ohio, while all the cases cited by the opposite counsel were raised by the capture of some fugitive slave who was already far on his return South when the question of constitutionality of the law was adjudicated, and urged the Court to give it that consideration that its consequence demanded.
He argued with great force that if wrongs might grow out of the execution of the law that would justify the resort to the remedy of a revolution, it was of the most momentous importance that the resources of the Courts should be carefully investigated and all legal remedies exhausted, before abandoning the case to so terrible a remedy as revolution.
He referred to the standing of the citizens now incarcerated in the jail of Cuyahoga County, including all classes, clergymen, professors of colleges, doctors, lawyers, merchants and others representing the best people of the State; that this was no case lightly to be disposed of by our prejudice or indifference toward an inferior race, but one involving the liberty of a large number of the first citizens of Ohio; and alluded to the announcement in the newspapers that the United States war steamer Michigan had been ordered by the President to the port of Cleveland to overawe the citizens with her guns, and provide a prison ship for these captives beyond the reach of process from the State Courts.
The case has assumed a momentous importance. The fundamental principle of the law, making a crime of an act which is an honor to humanity, and which in such circumstances as existed at Wellington can hardly be avoided without debasing human sentiment lower than brute instincts; the odious and tyrannical severity of the law; the star chamber character of the indictment and the trial; the low partisanship of the Judge; his coarse and indecent stump speech charge to the jury; the determination of the District Attorney that none but a partisan jury should try the case; the unmanly servility of the United States Marshal to the pleasure of a malignant President; packing juries to indict and try; not trying a man by a jury of his peers, but by a jury of known flunkies; his vanity which leads him to aggravate the difficulty to magnify his own importance, and which endangers a collision between the citizens and the Federal officers; the offensive attempt to intimidate the citizens by a government war-vessel; all these, and many other circumstances and considerations have combined to excite an unprecedented feeling among the citizens of Northern Ohio, and make this question by far the most important ever brought before the Supreme Court of this, or perhaps any other State. Grave consequences hang on their decision. We are confident that the question will receive that consideration which its importance demands; that it will be decided strictly on legal principles, and that the Court will shrink from no responsibility which duty involves. –