The Oberlin Evangelist

May 25, 1859

Why They are in Jail.

Messrs Editors:

      We are often asked – Why do your citizens remain in jail? I answer – Because Federal usurpation put them there for no fault or crime – put them there by an act of rank injustice – put them there under such circumstances, that, if they accept of any leniency or mercy with out the correction of a notoriously falsified record, or come out on bail, until that injustice is fully retracted, they submit to a wrong to which they should never, for one moment, submit – to a wrong which would compromise their manhood, and even their Christianity.

      Oberlin stands conspicuous for its hatred of oppression and its love of liberty. Now this bitter war against Oberlinites, is only a deadly blow aimed at the very vitality of liberty. Pro-Slavery Federal usurpation cares nothing for Oberlin as such. It is her love of liberty and hatred of oppression that must be crushed out. It is the first great act in the tragedy of the Dred Scott decision in Ohio, which purposes to crush out liberty everywhere, if the people will only submit, and to establish a central despotism that shall overshadow all the land.

      Why then do your citizens remain in jail? Because they cannot now come out without submitting to the slave power or seeming to submit. This they are not at liberty to do. If they submit, they embolden despotism to make another gigantic stride towards universal dominion. They are not their own property, nor the property of Oberlin. If they were, they could compromise their manhood and come out without doing material injury. But the emergency has made them the representatives of liberty – has made them the property of the devotees of freedom everywhere. They are right in the breach – they are standing where Leonidas and his Spartan band stood. If they submit, or even cast a shadow of submission, they are guilty of high treason to liberty and eternal right. They are there for an issue. They must stand there, and, thanks to their unselfish moral heroism, they will stand there.

      Thus they will conquer by the force of their moral position – they will nip giant wrong in the bud – they will by that position bring the masses of freemen to the rescue of the right – grateful posterity will thank them for their stand and their self-sacrificing devotion to liberty will be remembered longer than the great Boston tea-party.

      Let them stand their ground then, with inflexible firmness, and God and his people will surely take care of them, because they have refused to submit to wrong. JUSTUS.