The Oberlin Evangelist
June 8, 1859
Mass Meeting in Cleveland
The Oberlin Rescue Case has given occasion to an immense “gathering of the free” of Northern Ohio I General Convention, Cleveland, May 24. The numbers are estimated from ten to twelve thousand, and never have we seen a mass of men so great, who evinced so much intelligence, firmness, love of liberty, hatred of slavery, and yet so much calm determined purpose to seek redress by legal measures, till al hope in that direction is exhausted, and then consider what else might yet remain to be done. The tone and temper of the meeting was fervid, yet considerate, true to freedom, yet true also to good order. The doctrine maintained by the resolutions and by all the speakers is this – The Fugitive Slave Act unconstitutional, and void, to be never obeyed, but to be resisted by all legal means until those means shall have been fully exhausted. Beyond this point no definite action is taken. Evidently the speakers all felt a good degree of confidence that these means would prove effectual. If the Supreme Court of Ohio fails the friends of liberty in this momentous crisis, the ballot box is the next resort, and if the leading minds of the republican party were fairly represented in this great gathering, this appeal to the ballots of American citizens cannot be in vain.
The Resolutions adopted unanimously, take strong and just ground in their declaration of personal rights and of state rights, aw well; declare the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 to have been “passed by Congress in the exercise of powers improperly assumed;” declare the recent proceedings of the Federal Court in producing the conviction of persons indicted under the Fugitive Slave Law, by the employment of the most disgraceful partisan means, to be without a parallel even in the modern history of despotism:” “that the victims of that Court, now incarcerated in yonder prison, convicted or accursed of “humanity to man are entitled to an we here by tender to them our cordial sympathy.”
To make this sympathy effectual, they recommend to raise a fund – called “The Fund of Liberty;” and that every republican on the reserve may share in it, the propose to limit individual contributions to one dollar. This is to be collected under the direction of the Central Republican Committee of each county, and by them, placed in charge of a Central Committee – called “commissioners for the Liberty Fund.” The Convention put on this Committee, Wm. Fuller, Cuyahoga Co., Reuben Hitchcock, of Lake Co., and Philemon Bliss of Lorain Co.
Joshua R. Giddings, Herman Canfield, and Robert F. Paine, were made a Committee to “sue out a writ of Habeas Corpus in behalf of the prisoners now awaiting trail, and to do it without unnecessary delay.”
It is understood that just now they await the decision of the Supreme Court of Ohio oh the hearing, May 25, of the cases of Bushnell and Langston.
This Convention was addressed by R.P. Spaulding, Edward Wade, D.R. Tilden, J.W. Vance, J.R. Giddings, Joseph M. Root, Gov. S.P. Chase, Reuben Hitchcock, C. Delano, D.K. Carter, John M. Langston, O.P. Brown, John P. Converse, and Ex Pres. A. Mahan. Much of this speaking was intensely stirring and instinct with the eloquence of the heart.
We cannot doubt that this Convention has done great good. The opponents of the Fugitive Slave Act and of American Slavery, better know each other; have better defined their position and their policy, and have committed themselves to a work of political reform from which they never can recede till it be accomplished.
We notice with pleasure the frequent recognition of our obligations to God and to the eternal law of right, which he has both revealed in his word and implanted in all human souls. The spirit of the convention was that of men who feared God and who are committed to the labor of bringing back our Federal Government into harmony with that intrinsic righteousness which exaulteth a nation and secures for it the approbation of Jehovah. H. C.