September 30, 1858
The people of Oberlin, O., a few days since, rescued a colored boy, an alleged fugitive from labor, from the hands of some kidnappers. The U.S. Marshal, accompanied with two or three cut-throats, loaded with knives and pistols, inveigled the boy out of Oberlin to a farm a little distance in the country, where he was seized, taken to the town of Wellington, and concealed there in a hotel, which the braves proceeded to fortify. The Oberlin and Wellington people, to the number of thousands, immediately backed the constable in serving a writ upon the thieves for kidnapping and blockading the hotel. The house was entered and filled with men bent on the rescue of the negro. – Ultimately the kidnappers consented to let the boy go on condition they were not injured by the crowd. The promise was given and the boy was soon speeding on his way to Canada.
The McKean Citizen
December 25, 1858
An Improper Grand Juror. – L.D.
Boynton was one of the Grand Jurors who indicted a score of persons residing in Oberlin, Ohio, for aiding in the rescue of a fugitive slave. During the investigation, or since, it has come out that this man Boynton sent his son, a boy of twelve years of age, to hire the fugitive to go to his father’s to dig potatoes. The fugitive got into the buggy, when the boy drove into the clutches of the Slave Catchers! That Grand Juror should receive some fat office from Buchanan.
The Adams Sentinel
April 18, 1859
Exciting Slave Case.
A case is now on trial at Cleveland, Ohio, designing to test the enforcement of the penal provisions of the fugitive slave law on the Western Reserve. The rescue on which the indictment is founded, is alleged to have taken place by the Professors and principal men from that hot-bed of anti-slaveryism, Oberlin College. Some thirty-seven of them are charged with having forcibly rescued a Kentucky slave, when in custody of the agents of his master, on their way to the slave Commissioners. The whole Reserve is excited, and people everywhere anxiously await the result of the trial. The evidence has not progressed far enough to risk a conjecture as to the result. We are of opinion, however, that not one of the thirty-seven included in the indictment will be convicted. If any considerable number are tried the cases may extend to a great length. The whole of the defendants are in charge of the Marshal at one of the hotels in Cleveland, at the cost of Uncle Sam, this being taken as a prison in the license of the law.
May 5, 1859
The Oberlin Rescue Cases.
The U.S. Court setting at Cleveland, which is trying these cases, behaves in the most tyrannical manner towards the defendants. The Judge is overbearing and oppressive in his rulings, the District Attorney, insolent and supercilious, and the Marshal as obsequious as a hound in obeying the orders of his masters. The latter packs the Jury with willing tools and the Court and Attorney sustain him in it.
When arrangements were making for the first trial, the counsel for the defendant agreed to what is called a “struck” jury. Forty jurors were summoned, of whom ten were Republicans. The District Attorney had the privilege of striking off twelve and the attorney for the defence twelve, and from the sixteen left the jury was chosen. The District Attorney, in striking off his twelve, struck off every one of the ten Republicans, so that every man left on the jury was a democrat, chosen with express reference to their pro-slavery views.
After the first trial was over the Court tried to force the defence to go on, with the same jury, which had already convicted one of the defendants, and submit their cases to men who had thus made up their minds against them. The Court was finally shamed out of this; but in picking up a new jury, the Marshal exercised his utmost ingenuity in trying to find men who would render a verdict according to order. Before such a jury the trial of the second of the defendants is now proceedings. They will all be convicted, of course. The bench of a corrupt government such as ours could not possibly be without a dozen Judges willing to tread in the footsteps of Jeffries.
The defendants, including 30 of the most prominent citizens of Oberlin, are all in jail awaiting their trial. Prof. Peck preached to an immense crowd which gathered in the jail yard and on the walls to hear him, on Sunday, and the sympathy of the community towards him and his fellow prisoners has been shown by the crowds which are continually calling upon them. They may be convicted; but the world will think none the worse of them for having rescued a fugitive from bondage.
May 19, 1859
Two Cases Contrasted.
The tendency of the government of this Republic was never more faithfully illustrated than in two recent trials – one at Charleston, the other at Cleveland – one the trial of a gang of desperadoes and cut-throats who were engaged in reducing a cargo of innocent men to slavery, and the other the trial of one of twenty or more Christians for assisting one enslaved man to regain the freedom of which he had been robbed. We have alluded to the cases before; but we have not yet seen them contrasted. In the first, there is no doubt that the charge unwillingly urged by the Government against the crew and officers of the schooner Echo, was fully sustained. The Captain of the U.S Brig Dolphin, by whom the Echo was captured, was on the stand as a witness. He testified pointedly as to the arrest of the prisoners on the high seas; to the fact that they had a cargo of half-starved Africans on board; that the marked chart on the vessel showed their track from the coast where their slaves were snipped, to the spot where the capture was made; that the blacks were in irons and in the hold; and that the outfit of the vessel, the nature of her cargo, the admissions of her crew, and the story of the slaves, left no doubt that the Echo was a slave-trader, and that the prisoners were willingly, knowingly and criminally engaged in the forbidden traffic. His testimony was supported by other witnesses of unimpeached veracity. The identity of the men, and the facts charged in the indictment, were clearly proved – so clearly that the defence offered no rebutting evidence whatever. The Attorneys for the accused knew what they were doing; and that they might depend upon the indisposition of the government to convict. The case went to the jury, and that body, sworn to act according to the law and the testimony, hesitated only to make a show of deliberation before they returned with a verdict of Not Guilty. There is not a boy in the streets of Charleston who does not know that the finding in the case was a lie; and that an outrage has been inflicted upon law and justice.
The other case is that of the Oberlin rescuers, with which our readers are already familiar. The “man John,” an escaped Kentucky chattel, was arrested in Ohio by a slave catcher, who does his dirty business on shares. The arrest was on a warrant issued by an officer who had no jurisdiction in the district, and of course was without legality; but the Marshal refused to give the prisoner up. An excitement arose among the free men of the neighborhood that so shameless a thing should be; and without violence or intimidation, they terrified the cowardly officials so much that they suffered John to escape. The rescuers were lately indicted. One of them has just been tried by a Democratic court and a Democratic jury; though the testimony was lame and inconclusive, the Government had made such extraordinary exertions that a speedy conviction was had, and he is sentenced to a fine of a thousand dollars, or a year in the Penitentiary! Twenty others – not pirates, cut-throats, slave-traders, but men of character for integrity and virtue – are in prison awaiting a similar trial and a similar sentence!
And yet we hear from no Democratic journal a word of condemnation for the proceedings in either case. Editors and orators are sending up jubilant shouts in consequence of “vindication of law” in Ohio, but we have yet to know that they have uttered a murmur at the defiance of law” in Ohio, but we have yet to know that they have uttered a murmur at the defiance of law in South Carolina. The same power that empanelled the jury by which a crew of pirates were turned loose and invited to repeat their crimes, held the key to the jury box in which sat the men who have punished the lover of freedom, in Oberlin, with the extremist penalty of the law! That power is the Federal Government wielded by James Buchanan. – He and the party of which he is the head must be held responsible for verdicts lie these. Let the people note that in this era of the Republic the slave-trade is no crime; but those who laugh and shout in approbation of the act, when an escaped slave is recovered from the clutches of the hound by whom he is pursued for a price, shall feel that slavery reaches with a long arm and sharp talons into the heart of every Free State. The trials of which we speak will have widely different results. South Carolina will become more blindly and criminally devoted to Sham Democracy, which yields to all her demands. But we shall be mistaken if Ohio and her freemen do not speak in trumpet tones in reprobation of that Democracy which does not hesitate in outraging all that they hold dear! --Detroit Tribune.
The McKean Citizen
June 25, 1859
The Ohio Republican Platform.
The Chicago Press and Tribune publishes the Platform and Principles laid down by the Republicans of Ohio, at their States Convention on the 2d, and thus approvingly remarks:
“Coupled with the former action of the Republicans of Ohio, reference to which is made in the preamble, these affirmations are the doctrines of the Republican Party of the West; and each item of the creed will be loudly and, gladly to affirmed and endorsed in Illinois. We thank the freemen of Ohio for the emphatic boldness with which, at the time when trimmers are at work for the lowering of the standard of Republican doctrine, they have laid down the fundamental truths of the Republican organization. They will have their reward. With that Platform setting forth their determination to respect the rights of the South, while demanding an observance of the rights of the North, they will sweep Ohio from end to end, and will lay the ground-work for a long succession of victories which will cover every inch of ground above the Ohio and west of the Alleghenies. The gauntlet thrown down by the slave-driving Democracy in the relentless persecution of the citizens of Oberlin and Wellington, through the instrumentality of a jury of Federal officeholders and expectants, required it to be taken up precisely as it has been. This shameful incarceration of honorable and useful citizens at the behest of a professional slave-catcher – whose avowed mission to Ohio was to get half the marketable value of another man’s negro – demanded a return to first principles. It required an investigation on the part of the whole people, whether the principles enunciated in the Declaration of Independence have still a foothold in Ohio. The issue required to be squarely met; the premises of the conflict soon to take place demanded to be so adjusted, that the commonwealth might assert the freedom of her sons, and the inviolability of her soil, in a way not to be misapprehended. Let no one gabble nullification, treason, and the rest of the plantation slang. It is not pretended by the slave drivers themselves that American citizens cannot lawfully demand and labor for the repeal of the Fugitive Slave Law. They leave all such mouthing and falsification to the doughfaces. The Republicans of Ohio have demanded the repeal of this law uprooting the habeas corpus, the trial by jury, an all the bulwarks of individual freedom, and fixing pains and penalties upon the exercises of the common impulses of humanity – and have called upon the people to sustain their just requirement. We believe it will be sustained by a majority of thousands.”