The New York Times

New York City, New York

September 17, 1958



Fugitive Case in Oberlin



      A letter from Oberlin furnishes us with the particulars of a fugitive slave rescue, which took place on Sunday afternoon in Wellington:

“Two strangers had been staying in Oberlin some weeks, and their constant communication with Deputy United States Marshal, made the Oberlinites suspicious.  A farmer, said to be in the plot, residing some distance from Oberlin, hired a colored boy to work for him. Whilst the negro was on his way to the farm, he was arrested by Deputy Marshal Low, of Columbus – known as one of the Green County squad of man-hunters – who, in company with two Southerners, bore the boy off to Wellington.  Immediately, on word being conveyed to Oberlin, a strong party set out in pursuit, and on coming found the Wellington House blocked up and surrounded by a crowd, headed by a constable with a writ against the Marshal’s party for kidnapping.  The crowd rapidly increased, the house was entered and filled with men bent on the rescue of the negro.  Ultimately, the Southerners consented to let the boy go on condition they were not injured by the crowd.  The promise was given and the boy soon speeding on his way to Canada.”



The New York Times

New York City, New York

April 8, 1859

The News of the Day



      The trial of the Oberlin Rescue case is in progress at Cleveland, Ohio.  In September last, the citizens of the towns of Oberlin and Wellington assisted in the rescue of an alleged fugitive slave, named John, who was claimed as the property of one Bacon of Kentucky.  Thirty-seven of the rescuers were afterwards indicted for resisting the law, and are now on trial.  The first case on is that of Mr. Simeon Bushnell.  The claimant Bacon has been called as a witness.












The New York Times

New York City, New York

April 21, 1859



The News of the Day



      In the Oberlin rescue cases, at Cleveland, the thirty-six prisoners who went to jail on the 15th rather than stand their trial before the Jury, which convicted Simeon Bushnell, have gained their point.  Brought from jail into Court on Monday, a new Jury was ordered for Mr. Langston.  At last accounts, the empanelment was going on.  The prisoners were visited on Sunday by the Hon. Joshua R. Giddings, who was passing through Cleveland on his way to Columbus.



Banner of Liberty

Middletown, New York

May 4, 1859



Abolition Martyrs.



      There is just now a striking exhibition going on of that monstrous compound of dishonesty, treason and insincerity, which is generated by the “Abolition” or “nigger” equality delusion of the day.  There is a school, or college, named Oberlin, in Ohio, designed originally, we believe, for teaching the peculiar tenants of a certain leader, or Doctor, of one of the many religious sects which the “church” is divided into, but which has been made for many years a seminary for propagating the diseased “moralities” of Abolitionism.  Its greatest pride was not only that it gave the same education” to both sexes, and taught women the duties of men, while it transformed the latter into the mould and manner of femininity, but that it rose above the “prejudices” of society, and placed whites, Indians, negroes, mulattoes, &c., on the same social level, and sought in every way possible, or impossible, to reduce “Abolitionism” to practice.

      This school is the centre, the hot-bed literally in Ohio, of these vile doctrines, which the agents and tools of European monarchy have imposed on so many of our people; and nearly the whole population, for a considerable distance about it is tainted, more or less, with the treasonable spirit which is the necessary consequence of an acceptance of these foreign doctrines.  But notwithstanding there is yet sufficient sense and patriotism left even in this infected district to carry out the laws and to fulfill those duties of citizenship on which rests the whole social structure, and which, when no longer regarded, must leave men without any protection from the violence of each other, and society itself to relapse into chaos and universal confusion.

      A fugacious negro some months since had sought shelter at Oberlin, and when his master followed after and reclaimed him, as the law provides, some three score of these Oberlin lovers of (“nigger”) liberty, armed with guns, pistols, broomsticks, &c., and encouraged by their wives, attacked the master and captured the darkie, who soon after was doubtless on his way to Canada.  The Grand Jury indicted the ringleaders of these deluded creatures for riot and for obstructing the Federal officers in the performance of their duties, as provided for by the fugitive “slave” law, and several of them have recently been convicted, while others have been held to bail for future trial.  But now came the time for displaying that martyr spirit which many have supposed extinct in our times, but which Abolitionist hold is deep and hearty as in the days of St. Anthony or Cyprian, though confined alone to their ranks.  They would not give bail – they would go to prison – they would be martyrs and present a high and glorious example to the struggling friends of freedom, and demand the plaudits of an admiring world.  They therefore made preparations, everything as comfortable as possible, for the anticipated martyrdom.  First they secured the apartments of the jailor and then laid in blankets –a first rate supply of food (and doubtless of drink) and finally, to keep up appearances, they desecrated religion, and got a clergyman to hold services in the jail, to which the people of the surrounding country were invited, and expected, of course, to be mightily edified.  But the force was soon played out – instinct, if nothing else, taught them that all this parade over a worthless negro (for those who run away from their homes, like runaway boys, must generally be worthless) would be laughed at by their neighbors, and the latest intelligence from the scene of this modern martyrdom represent the martyrs as quite recovered from their folly and perfectly willing to give bail and otherwise conduct themselves with the ordinary decencies of good citizenship hereafter.  Now, are these men honestly deluded or are they traitorously disposed towards the laws and institutions under which they live?  It is difficult, certainly, for an intelligent mind to believe the former, and it would seem to be irrational to suppose the latter, for what would they have? – they make their own laws and live under their own self-government!  It is, indeed, difficult to explain their conduct otherwise than by that singular tendency, caprice or folly, or whatever it may be termed, which sometimes induces men to abuse their good fortune and to be discontented with their own (unmerited) prosperity.



Banner of Liberty

Middletown, New York

June 15, 1859



A Schoolmaster on the Constitution.


      The abolitionists, after having abused the constitution as a devilish document – a league with death and hell, &c., have now another fault to find with it.  The Oberlin rescue cases have led some abolition pedagogue to study the foundation of the Union and the Charter of our liberties; and lo! he has discovered that the clause which provides for the rendition of fugitives from labor is not good grammar.  He writes to the Cleveland Herald about it, and wants to know how it is to be parsed.  We can tell him how it is to be parsed by those who forcibly resist its provisions – by fine and imprisonment.


The Hornellsville Tribune

Hornellsville, New York

July 28, 1859



The Oberlin Victim’s of Governmental Oppression.



1.      A slave named John is alleged to have escaped nearly three years ago, from his master in Kentucky.

2.      In September last he was pursued, and a man living in Oberlin, and taken to be the same person, was seized by armed men, he being decoyed out of the village at the instance of the pursuers.

3.      He was hurried off to Wellington, to await the first train of cars going South.

4.      Tidings having reached the inhabitants of Oberlin, excited already by the knowledge that slave catchers had been prowling about the village, a few persons hastened to Wellington for the purpose of rescuing one whom they knew to be a kidnapped man.

5.      Those men, with others, citizens of Wellington, succeeded in delivering the negro from his captors.

6.      The officers of the Federal Government arraigned these men as criminals, part being white men and part colored men.

7.      A packed jury, selected by the Marshal, every one of whom was a Buchanan Democrat, found the two who were tried, guilty.  One was sentenced to pay $600, and the other $100, and both were imprisoned.

8.      The rest demanded instant trials, but the Judge postponed the trials, and would have admitted the prisoners to bail if they had virtually confessed that they were felons.  The Sheriff bound by the law of the State to receive and hold United States prisoners, said to these prisoners:  “ I receive you not as felons, but as friends, for I would have acted as you have done.”

9.      The Wellington men made some concessions, and after being fined $25 each, and imprisoned one day, were discharged.

10.  The two convicted men were remanded to prison; and eleven others, rather than give bail on the terms required, went with them.

11.  The patty has now been confined upwards of seventy days, and they may remain there all Summer or longer.  Professor E. Peck is one of them; Last year he was a Moderator of the Ohio Congregational Conference.  He belongs to a very rare class of men.  The Ohio Conference of this year have, by their Moderator, addressed him in a public letter, in which it is said:  “I am able to assure you there is not one of us who does not make your case his own, and who would not, if it were possible, be willing to share with you your prison sufferings.  And we do all pray God to enable you humbly to endure your sufferings for weeks longer, if need be, rather than to compromise, in any way, the principles of justice and freedom.

12.  The prisoners urgently need immediate help.  Nine of the thirteen now in jail are married.  Six of the number depend wholly on their daily labor for support, and the rest are men of small means.  Forth children of the prisoners look to their imprisoned fathers, under God for their daily bread.  Already have the prisoners expended $400 for necessary expenses attending the trials, and they owe $200 more for the same.  They have had to pay $200 to the Sheriff for entertaining members of their families who have visited them, and furnishing the prisoners such necessaries as the Government will not provide.

13.  If the trials go on, as, considering the character of the Judge and District Attorney, and the influence of the Federal Government, they probably will, there will be great expenses to meet, for the prisoners mean, if the prosecution challenges it, to carry on defensive hostilities on a large scale, the Government having opened itself to assault in various ways.  They believe that the opportunity for proving to the American people what Federal aggressions are, should not be lost.

14.  The Congregational Conferences of Michigan, Illinois, Ohio and Iowa have uttered strong words of sympathy, and the effect of the cruel treatment of the prisoners is appearing in Ohio and other States in a stirring up to action of the long latent personal Christian Anti Slavery sentiment of the people.

15.  The prisoners believe that God approves their course.  He has raised up friends, has visited the prisoners with peculiarly rich out-pourings of grace, and has turned their sorrow to good account in a quickening of Anti Slavery zeal which is reported to them from various parts of the land.

16.  All communications of inquiry, or donations may be directed to S. Plumb, esq., Oberlin, Lorain Co., O., or to the old Amistad committee in New York, which is still in working order, unbroken – Lewis Tappan, Treasurer, No. 48 Beekman Street, New York.