The Cleveland Daily Herald
Cleveland, December 7, 1858
The Wellington Rescue Case.
The Grand Jury have returned to the United State Circuit Court indictments against thirty-seven persons for being concerned in the rescue, at Wellington, Lorain County, of the negro “John,” claimed as the slave of John G. Bacon, of Kentucky and at the time of the rescue in the possession of Anderson Jennings and J.K. Lowe, acting as agents for Bacon under the provisions of the fugitive slave law.
The following were indicted “for rescuing a fugitive from service:” – Charles Langston, John Watson, John Copeland, Simeon Bushnell, Lorin Wadsworth, Robert Windsor, James R. Shepard, John S. Scott, John Mandeville, Ansel W. Lyman, Matthew DeWolfe, William E. Lincoln, Jeremiah Fox, Henry Evans, Wilson Evans, David Watson, Eli Boyce, William E. Scrimiger, Lewis Hines, James Bartlett, James H. Bartlett, Abner Loveland, Matthew Gillett, Thomas Gena, Walter Sawles, William Scriples, Robert R. Cummings, Oliver S.B. Wall, Henry D. Niles, Daniel Williams, Chauncey Goodyear, Franklin Lewis, William Watson, John Hartwell.
The following are indicted “for aiding, abetting, and assisting to rescue a fugitive from service and labor:” – Henry E. Peck, James M. Fitch, Ralph Plumb.
The arrests will probably be made forthwith.
The Cleveland Daily Herald
Cleveland, December 9, 1858
The Wellington Rescue Case.
U.S. Marshal Johnson went to Oberlin on Tuesday, 7th inst., to serve write on the parties indicted by the Grand Jury for having been concerned in the rescue of the slave “John” at Wellington on Sept. 13th. He took but one Deputy with him, who was employed in serving process on those who resided at some distance from Oberlin. There was no excitement and no attempt to resist the process of law. On the contrary, Marshal Johnson informs us that the disagreeable duty was performed by himself and submitted to by the parties indicted with the utmost courtesy and good feeling. The Marshal says that the Faculty of Oberlin and the citizens are all gentlemen in every respect, and he wishes to make public acknowledgment of that fact. Promise was made that the persons on whom process was served would voluntarily attend the U.S. Court in this city and submit to the requirements of the law.
Wednesday afternoon the following persons appeared in court, to wit: Prof. Henry E. Peck, Rev. James M. Fitch, William E. Scrimiger, Ansel A. Lyman, James R. Shepard, Simeon Bushnell, David Watson, John Watson, John H. Scott and Henry Evans, all of Oberlin. The remainder of the persons indicted have engaged to be in court this Thursday afternoon or tomorrow.
On being arraigned, Judge Spaulding, counsel for the indicted, demanded immediate trial. They had been taken from their homes and firesides and now asked a speedy hearing and were ready for trial. This announcement staggered the Federal Attorney, Judge Belden, who did not dream but that these men like other criminals, would ask postponement. He was then put on the defence and asked for delay. What other proof need the public have that this prosecution is merely for effect at Federal headquarters, than the fact that the District Attorney, who has the whole matter under his control, who knows all the secrets of the Grand Jury room, who can lay his finger upon every witness for the prosecution, who can hold such witnesses by the whole Federal force, asks a postponement of the trial. The prosecution said witnesses were in Kentucky and it would take two weeks to get them. Judge Spaulding asked if it is “reasonable that citizens of Ohio should be thrown into jail to await the movements of Kentucky slave catchers.” Mr. Belden, as advisor of the Grand Jury, has been instrumental in finding this indictment and the thing is unusual in criminal jurisprudence that prisoners should in vain ask for an immediate trial. No one doubts that the Federal Attorney could have called every witness, upon whose testimony these proceedings were instituted, to the witness box, but no, the trial must be put off, and in doing so the Federal Attorney has either stated a falsehood or there is not sufficient testimony to convict, and if not sufficient to convict, what an outrage it was upon justice that he should have permitted the Grand Jury to find a bill.
The Court, however, granted a continuance, and stated that the defendants would be held to bail in the sum of five hundred dollars each. “We give no bail, may it please the Court, and the prisoners are here subject to the order of the Court.” If Judge Spalding had sent a respectable sized torpedo to the Bench it would not have produced greater fluttering. The Court and District Attorney were nonplussed and looked with wonder upon these men of Oberlin, who dare to board those appointed to execute the Fugitive Slave law, even in their Court Room. Consultation was had, the jail doors were yawning for the victims, and shackles were at hand, if safely demanded them, but the Court directed the defendants should each enter into his own recognizance for appearance at the March term. Let it be noted that among these defendants were negroes, who, by the Dred Scott decision, are not citizens of the United States, cannot bring suit in the Federal Court, but who yet were permitted to depart upon their own recognizances. What will Mr. Buchanan say to such interpretation of that decision? And what will he say to such execution of his pet nigger-catching law?
Thus ended that chapter in the Wellington rescue case, and each “rescuer” has gone home on his own word of honor – which is all that being discharged on one’s own recognizance means – that he will return at the March term. Bail they would not give and did not give, although the Court offered to put it down to the mere nominal sum of $500, and allow one to sign the bond for the other.
Whilst on this subject we may refer to the disgraceful article in Tuesday evening’s Plain Dealer, which was utterly unworthy the editors of that paper. We are assured, on the best authority, that the U.S. Court of this District, and the responsible officers, condemn the tone of the article in question and repudiate its sentiments.
The counsel for the defendants are Messrs. A. G. Riddle, S.O. Griswold, and Judge Spalding.