The Cleveland Daily Herald
Cleveland, May 6, 1859
The Case of Langston.
This case is drawing rapidly to a close.
The great point upon which this case hinges – and the point, without the establishing of which, the Government must fail – is the legality of the holding of John by the captors. Those who have followed the two cases will have noticed that the effort of the Government in the Bushnell case – as in that of Langston – was to show that Jennings held John under the Power of Attorney, and that such fact was communicated to the crowd. On the Bushnell case this point was evidently, not a strongly made out as the prosecution wished, and so there has been an attempt to strengthen it in the Langston case by the introduction of Lowe and Davis. The testimony of the first contradicts itself, and proves the witness, at best, to be a very weak sign and unfit to act as an officer; the testimony of Davis was given with such a brazen, insolent manner as to destroy its force, even if he had not been contradicted by the pious Jennings. We think the testimony of Lowe and Davis would have hurt the prosecution, standing even on the examination in chief, and assuredly, the searching, scorching, scathing cross-examination of Mr. Backus, produced an exhibition lamentable for honest me to behold, and so annihilated those two-dollar-a-day nigger catchers that when dismissed from the stand they were in doubt whether standing on their head or their heels – whether they were right side or wrong side out.
But, as a clincher, a half dozen men, Houk, Bennett, Patton, Meacham, Cowles, &c., swear point blank to the fact that from first to last there was no Power of Attorney shown except in one case of Mr. Houk who thinks Lowe did show it but for the purpose of showing on what the issuing of the warrant was based.
Lowe, it will be recollected, said that he, as soon as Jennings got to Wellington, delivered the negro over to him, Jennings, who after that held him by the Power of Attorney – or as Davis said Power of Atturnety. Read the testimony of Houk, Meacham, Bennett, Patton and Cowles, about that warrant, and then judge of the veracity, or the recollection, or both, of this man, Lowe.
Again, the testimony of Patton, shows, just how the rescue was effected, and this testimony took the prosecution aback. The defence evidently purposely avoided calling out this testimony on the case of Bushnell – it not being material in that case – for the purpose of taking a “round turn” on the Government in Langston’s case. It will be seen, too, that the testimony of Watson contradicts, flat footed, that of Siples relative to what Langston said in the tavern.
We look, confidentially for an acquittal in this case; we do not believe a conviction can be had.
It will be seen that that to-day, Friday, four of the Wellington defendants entered the plea of noto contendere (not to contend) threw themselves on the Court and received sentence.
The inside history of this matter has been given by one of these defendants. It seems they had an interview last evening. Thursday, with the Marshal who showed them a letter from Attorney General Black, instructing the Marshal to resist any State Court Habeas Corpus writ to the utmost, and by force. The Marshal said he should refuse to obey any writ from the State Court, and if he was arrested for contempt he expected to be released by Judge McLean on a writ of Habeas Corpus. The Marshal stated that the law would be thoroughly enforced against the Oberlin men, but there was no disposition to punish severely the Wellington men. Under these statements these men were induced to come into Court and enter their plea and receive sentence as above.
In connection with this matter it is worthy of note, that Mr. Wheeler, the Rochester Post Master, who was one of the main witnesses for the Government, and who has been quite active in bringing about a compromise with the Wellington defendants. Demanded of these men five dollars each for his services in their behalf.