The Weekly Times
May 19, 1859
The Oberlin Rescuers.
Langston, the second one of the Oberlin rescuers who has been tried, was on the 12 inst., convicted and sentenced to pay a fine of $100, to pay the cost of the prosecution, and be imprisoned for the period of twenty days. Messrs. Matthew DeWolf, Abner Loveland, Loron, and Wadsworth having abandoned their plea of not guilty, were sentenced to pay a fine of $20 each, pay the costs of the prosecution, and be committed to the custody of the Marshal for twenty-four hours. The remaining portion of the cases are postponed until the July term.
Weekly Hawk Eye
May 24, 1859
The Rescuers – Writs of Habeas Corpus Granted.
Application has been made to Judge Scott, of the Supreme Court, for writs of habeas corpus in behalf of Bushnell and Langston, who were last week sentenced at Cleveland, to fine and imprisonment for participation in the rescue of a fugitive slave at Wellington. The writs asked were grated, and the prisoners to be brought before the Supreme Court of Ohio on Wednesday the 25th inst. A hearing will then be had, the cases presented being now precisely so much to that upon which the Wisconsin Court acted in liberating Booth, and in regard to which the United States Supreme Court has recently fulminated a counter decree. This question is likely to prove an exciting, if not a very troublesome one, before it is finally disposed of, and will, of course, attract very general intention.
The Weekly Times
May 26, 1859
The Oberlin Rescuers.
Judge Scott, of the Supreme Court of Ohio, has issued a writ of habeas corpus commanding the Sheriff to produce the bodies of Messrs. Bushnell and Langston, the two convicted Oberlin rescuers, before the Judges of the Supreme Court at Columbus, on Wednesday the 24th inst., at 10 o’clock A.M. The question to be tried on the occasion, providing the U.S. Marshal shall permit the writ to be operative, will be whether those gentlemen are illegally imprisoned; or in other words, whether, in their conviction and incarceration their rights as citizens of Ohio have been violated.
An application was made before the Lorain County Court on the 18th inst., for a continuance of the trial of the two alleged Kidnappers until the October term. The Court refused to grant the motion, but finally consented to continue until the 6th of July. This will be previous to the trial of the remaining portion of the Rescuers, and if the two Kentucky gentlemen shall happen to be convicted as negro-stealers, and put securely into jug, it would slightly impair their usefulness as witnesses against the citizens of Oberlin who are now in Cleveland jail.
Davenport Daily Leader
May 31, 1859
The Cleveland Convention.
The fugitive slave excitement in the “Western Reserve” of Ohio, relative to which we have already given many details, has attracted the attention of many citizens of Iowa, who were formerly citizens of Northern Ohio. For this reason, the fact that many of our subscribers were once residents of the “Western Reserve,” we have devoted more space to the “Oberlin Fugitive Slave case” than otherwise we might have done. The results of the trial we have given. On the 24th inst., there was a large mass meeting of the Freemen of the Western Reserve at Cleveland. This was a cool and calm council of the people, in no manner intended in its objects to secure disobedience to the Fugitive Slave Law, but as a prominent object to devise and take steps to secure its repeal. The number in attendance, as we learn from an abstract of proceedings published by a contemporary, was estimated at 10,000. Hon. Joshua R. Giddings presided, and stirring speeches were made by Judge Spalding, Hon. E. Wade, Judge Tilden, J.W. Vance, J.R. Giddings, Gov. Chase, J.M. Root, Judge Carter, O.P. Brown, and others. – The resolutions adopted denounce the Fugitive Slave Law as oppressive; tyrannical and unconstitutional; and as a practical measure of resistance, it was determined that a fund be raised to be called The Fund of Liberty; and to the end that every Republican on the Reserve may share in accumulating that fund, that the contributions be limited to one dollar each; the same to be collected under the direction of the several Republican County Central Committees of the Reserve; that three commissioners be appointed by the assembly, to be called Commissioners of the Liberty Fund, who shall receive said fund, disburse it for the objects named, and account therefore by periodical publications until their duties are performed – applying any surplus to the advancement of Republicanism and Liberty. Wm. Fuller, of Cuyahoga county, Reuben Hitchcock, of Lake co., and Philemon Bliss, of Lorain county, were appointed commissioners of this fund. The same paper says: There can be no doubt that the Cleveland trials have aroused a deep and bitter feeling of hostility to the Fugitive Law in the Reserve counties and to the party which attempts to enforce it. However much we may regret the suffering inflicted by the government on the unfortunate individuals whom it persecutes, under this law, we rejoice to witness the wholesome public sentiment aroused thereby. There can be as little doubt, also, we think, that this overpowering demonstration was effectual in restraining the U.S. Marshal from attempting to prevent the removal of Langston and Bushnell from Cleveland to Columbus, on the writ of habeas corpus, which was heard on the 25th. He had his instructions from Washington to set the State Court at defiance and keep the prisoners from being taken before it; but there were too many Republicans in Cleveland on the 24th, and he therefore did not attempt to resist.
The Weekly Times
June 16, 1859
Church and State.
An Association, composed of clerical and lay delegates from the several Congregational Churches of Iowa, was held last week at Muscatine. In the course of their session the following Preamble and Resolutions were unanimously adopted:
Whereas, The effort to carry into execution the Fugitive Slave enactment is constantly producing excitement and collision, and subjecting Christian and humane men, and law-abiding citizens to prosecution, pains and penalties; and, where as, a number of citizens of a Western State – some of whom we take pleasure in recognizing as our brethren in Christ – are thus harassed at the present time; Resolved –
1st. That we extend to these our brethren and fellow citizens our hearty sympathy, and say to them, “Be courageous in enduring wrong for the cause of right. We believe the results of your case will not terminate with you alone, who are immediately and directly concerned in it, but will have important bearings on the cause of liberty throughout our entire country.”
2d. That we recognize the Providence of God which is using the enforcement of this un-Christian enactment to call out and increase the humane and Christian opposition of our fellow citizens and fellow Christians to the whole system of American Slavery, with all its attendant evils, whether established by enactment or the General Government, sanctioned by the Supreme Court, or enforced by Federal officers.
3d. That we now take up a collection in aid of the brethren and friends in bonds in Ohio, and that the same be forwarded to Rev. H. L. Hammond, of the Congregational Herald, for them.
The Herald of this city is greatly outraged at these Resolutions, assuming that the Association, representing as it did, a Christian sect, had no right to meddle with civil or political affairs, and that its action was an encouragement to rebellion against the execution of the Laws! It will take off the edge of this rebuke somewhat when it is known that not far from the very time when the Muscatine Association was passing judgment upon the Oberlin affair, this same Dubuque Herald was advocating the policy of taking a man directly from the ranks of the Methodist Ministry, and making him the nominee of the Democratic Party for Governor of Iowa! And it will in no wise increase the effect of its lamentation that a Christian sect should not advise willing obedience to an infernal statute like the Fugitive Slave Law, when it is remembered that this same journal has repeatedly advised the organization, upon n frivolous pretexts, of Vigilance Committees, and recommended the Mayor of this city to block the wheels of local legislation, by refusing to put to vote an ordinary parliamentary motion! What a lover of religious propriety and untrammeled civil administration that concern has suddenly become!
The Muscatine assemblage has a right to express its opinion of a law, which imposes un-Christian and barbarous duties upon American citizens, and to sympathize with those who have become its victims. This all its members did. They did not charge its passage or maintenance upon any political party, or advise resistance to its enforcement. They simply reprobated its execution, and extended what comfort was in their power to those upon whom its rigors had unnecessarily fallen. Other U.S. laws, founded upon Right, are allowed to remain practical nullities. There has never been a rigid enforcement of the laws for the suppression of the African Slave Trade. How far would the welfare of the Government be periled should the same official laxity be extended to this law, whose conception and execution is naught but wrong?
Davenport Daily Leader
July 16, 1859
The Oberlin Prisoners Released.
These gentlemen, twelve in number, whose prosecution in the U.S. Court was nolled recently, were received at the Oberlin depot, on the night of their return, by about 2,000 of their fellow citizens. The suggestion to release them came from the Kentucky slave hunters, who were under arrest in Lorain County, for kidnapping the colored man, whom the Oberlin prisoners were arrested for rescuing. As Government witness fees do not pay board bills, the Kentucky gentlemen began to get tired. Besides, their case looked squally. They must be tried in the Court of Lorain County, before a Lorain Jury. Judge Carpenter, of Lorain county, on his recent charge to the Grand Jury, held that “every man, woman and child in Ohio, of whatever complexion, is presumed to be free,” and that “there is no presumption because a colored man was a slave yesterday in Kentucky, and to-day is found in Ohio, that he has made an illegal escape. The legal presumption is that he came here by the consent of his master, or by the act of God.” There must be evidence point into a different conclusion, to set this presumption aside. It any is found forcibly or fraudulently removing any black or mulatto, and there is no evidence that he came into the State by an actual escape from service, he is to be held to be free, and the act of removal a misdemeanor, &c. The Kentuckians tried the writ of habeas corpus from Judge McLean, but the Sheriff and Probate Judge of Lorain, were suddenly missing, and the writ could not take effect. Finally, the day before the Lorain County Court, they came down, and their Attorney proposed to the District Attorney to exchange nolles – and it was agreed to.
Before leaving jail, the Oberlin prisoners presented their counsel, jailor, &c., each with a silver napkin ring, fork and spoon, engraved with their initials, and the words “From Rescuer; Matt. 25, 36.” The legal gentlemen, Judge Spalding and others, receive no fees. Three ladies were present. The presentation was accompanied with brief speeches, and closed with an act of religious worship. At Oberlin, Prof. Monroe, who is in the Legislature from Lorain county, welcomed the Rescuers home to their families and firesides and a procession of thousands of people was formed, which, led by the village band, marched through town – which was a glare of light from bonfires, and was vocal with cheers and ringing of bells – to the big brick church, where three thousand people were assembled. Addresses were made by the newly released prisoners, and others, and great enthusiasm prevailed.
During the evening a collection was taken up for the relief of the prisoners, and the choir sung the Marseillaise. Several of the speakers alluded to their fellow prisoner, Bushnell, who still had a few days to remain in jail, and promised him a hearty welcome when he returned again to his home. At twelve o’clock the meeting was closed by singing the Doxology.
Those citizens of Lorain county, who were indicted for resisting, &c., but not arrested, are included in the nolle prosequi. Among the tokens of sympathy received before leaving jail, by the Rescuers, was a gift of $100, for trial expenses, from the father of Passmore Williamson, of Philadelphia. 400 Sunday School scholars from Oberlin, came one day to the Cleveland jail to visit their Superintendent, one of the prisoners, and held a picnic on the green.