The Racine Daily Journal
April 20, 1859
The Oberlin (Ohio) Slave Rescue Case.
The examination of witnesses in the case of the United States against Bushnell, for alleged rescue of a fugitive slave from the officers of Government, at Oberlin, which has been progressing for a week past, at Cleveland was, brought to a close on Tuesday morning. The argument for the prosecution was commenced at the assembling of the court in the afternoon, by Hon. Geo. Bliss, who spoke for two hours and a half. Mr. Riddle, on the part of the defence, then opened his argument, which was not concluded till Wednesday evening. The case was then given to the case was then given to the jury, and we learned by a dispatch from Cleveland last night that a verdict has been rendered against Bushnell, the rescuer.
This is the first of some thirty-six indictments against citizens of Oberlin, which are yet to be tried, on this charge: The result of this trial renders the conviction of all the others, among whom are the head men of Oberlin College, certain. The sentence, which is heavy fine and imprisonment, ahs not yet been pronounced against Bushnell.
The Waukesha Freeman
May 3, 1859
The Ohio Rescue Case.
On Tuesday last, the counsel for the defendants in the Oberlin Rescue Case, Judge Spaulding, applied to the Supreme Court of Ohio, for a writ of habeas corpus, in behalf of his clients, intending to show that the fugitive slave law was unconstitutional. Notice was issued to the U.S. District Attorney to appear and show cause why the writ should not be granted. That individual blustered round some for a while, but finally concluded to go before the Court. The case was argued, and on Friday the Judges announced their decision refusing the writ. The news of their decision was hailed with regret by the opponents of the Fugitive Slave Law, for they had hoped for better things. The second account of the decision, however, puts a different face upon the mater, and gives us still ground to hope that the Supreme Court of Ohio will not yield the right of that State to protect the liberty of her citizens. The Cleveland Leader says that the decision of the Court, which was unanimous, was thus rendered because the U.S. Circuit Court had not yet exceeded its authority, not having passed sentence on the convicted prisoner, and that the Court had declined to give any expression of their opinion as to the constitutionality of the Fugitive Slave Law. From this we infer that as soon as the U.S. Court passes sentence on the prisoners, another application will be made to the Supreme Court in their behalf, and then the Judges will be obliged to say yes or no on the great question which just now interests us so deeply in Wisconsin.
May 6, 1859
The Ohio Rescue Case.
Cleveland, April 25, 1859.
In September last, the burglar’s means were used to gain possession of a colored man living in Oberlin. The intending kidnappers were strangers, supposed to be from the South. At the time mentioned, the people of the village were on the watch for negro-stealers, as suspicious characters had been seen prowling around the village.
On the 13th of September, word was brought to Oberlin that the kidnappers had got John Price. Many of the residents made haste in pursuit, and overtook Jennings and Lowe, (hunters,) at Wellington, eight miles south of Oberlin; here they were found t the hotel, already surrounded by Wellingtonians. The negro was demanded, and a writ of arrest procured, but not served.
Jennings showed his authority of the arrest of John, which authority was a warrant signed by the Dept. Mar. Johnson of Columbus, and had no seal. After much parley, some proposed to give up the slave, provided no violence would be shown the genuine kidnappers, which was agreed to by the assembly.
In obedience to the command of the White House, U.S. Dist. Atty. Belden brought the matter before the court and thirty-seven, offenders were indicted for resisting U.S. officials. Every one of the party was a Democrat, and one of them the very man who had been the most officious in aiding the Southerner. The thirty-seven were permitted to go at large on their own recognizance. On the 5th inst. they appeared in Cleveland for trial, the case of Bushnell coming first. His trial lasted about one week. In summing up the defense together with other points, held 1st. that J.G. Bacon (of Ky.) was one sixth owner of the slave, (not shown to be John,) he having descended to Bacon and his five brothers and sisters: - hence he had no power to make over power of atty. to Jennings or any body else.
2. The warrant for arrest was granted in the Southern Dist. of Ohio, and was not valid in the northern District.
3. The case was believed by Bushnell to be as it actually was, a case of illegal arrest: and no one can be deemed guilty of crime unless he commit it willfully.
Bushnell by a Democratic Jury, was found guilty. Sentence not yet given. The defence are now in Columbus for purpose of taking a writ of habeas corpus. The indicted are held in Jail by order of the Dist. Court.
In haste, your T.H.
Weekly Gazette and Free Press
May 6, 1859
The application to the Supreme Court of Ohio for the release of Bushnell and others concerned in the Oberlin rescue case, from the custody of the U.S. Marshal, has been refused. The court expressed no opinion on this constitutionality of the fugitive slave law.
Fond Du Lac Weekly Commonwealth
Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin
May 25, 1859
The Oberlin Rescuers – Writs of Habeas Corpus Granted.
The Cincinnati Gazette of the 15th says: 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 granted, and the prisoners are to be brought before the Supreme Court of Ohio on Wednesday the 25th inst.
A hearing will then be had, the case presented being now precisely similar to that upon which that 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 as disposed of, and will of course attract very general attention.
The Janesville Weekly Times
June 10, 1859
The Oberlin Rescuers.
The decision of the Supreme Court of Ohio, in the case of the Oberlin rescuers, is drawing out expressions of wrath in great abundance from the Shanghai press all over the Northwest. The Press de Tribune, the Free Democrat, and all of their satellites, pretended to look with great confidence to that dignified tribunal for a decision sustaining them in their silly bluster about nullification of the laws of the country, and their misty twaddle about the rights and sovereignty of the States. But the Court, albeit composed of Republicans in good and regular standing with the party, and not hitherto suspected of a wish to shake off their allegiance, or of any disposition to disregard “the general and fundamental principle and purpose of the organization,” has seen fit to evince its regard for law and order, and its deference to the authority of the Constitution and the decisions of the Supreme Court of the Untied States. Thereupon, in consonance with their practice thus far zealously adhered to, of striving to cast contempt upon the Courts of the land which will not sanction the wild absurdities of Abolitionism by the authority of judicial decrees and opinions, and to inspire the deluded masses of the party with a hatred of every tribunal which will not give its assent to “higher law” theories in relation to the Constitution and the obligation of statutes, they are now diligently blackguarding the three judges of Ohio who have presumed to differ with them. They give these functionaries no credit for honesty of purpose – they do not intimate that there is even a possibility that the decision may be good in law – they do not care, indeed, if it be so. They are ready to break the laws – anxious for an opportunity to do so – and they damn these judges for not manifesting equal anxiety and alacrity.
“We shall give to-morrow,” says the Free Democrat “the gist of the opinion of Brinkerhoff, one of the Judges of the Ohio Court in the recent Oberlin rescue case, who favored the discharge of the prisoners. By it our readers will have a fair apprehension of the complete soundness of his position and the cowardice and subserviency of his colleagues. Brinkerhoff plants himself on the absolute law of the case, his colleagues on precedents, which they themselves admit, violate the law.”
The italics in the foregoing extract are ours. The terms employed by the Free Democrat to characterize the judicial action of three members of the Supreme Court of Ohio, who, it is fair to presume, are honorable men, probably men learned in the law, and who are sworn to interpret it honestly and to the best of their ability, constitute a fair sample of the decency and manliness of the Abolition press, which has good words for negroes and negro worshippers, but none for any white man who fails to appreciate the beauties of its “higher law” doctrines, and does not echo its ravings against the South and its institutions.
Daily State Journal
June 20, 1859
Under this caption, and for the purpose of proving Judge Swan’s claim to that title, the Buffalo commercial quotes the following extract from his decision in the Oberlin rescue case: -
“As a citizen I would not deliberately violate the constitution or the law by interference with fugitives from justice. But if a weary, frightened slave should appeal to me to protect him from his pursuers, it is possible I might momentarily forget my allegiance to the law and constitution and give him a covert from those who were on his track.”
We do not exactly understand in what the Commercial would have us consider, the uprightness of the judge to consist: whether in his disposition to yield to the law of his being and feed the hungry and protect the oppressed, or in yielding to the dictates of an inhuman slave law and subverting the rights of man.
Grant County Witness
July 14, 1859
The Oberlin Rescuers Discharged.
To the astonishment of every body, the Government has completely backed down in the Oberlin Rescue cases. The prisoners have been liberated without trial, and without any concessions on their part. “It will be remembered that before the Court adjourned it offered to admit these parties to bail. This they declined giving. The Court then proposed to release them upon their personal recognizance. This offer was declined also, since when they have been confined in the Cleveland jail.” All at once orders came for their liberation; but what should induce the Government to take such a step is not yet known.
In honor of the victory, the citizens of Cleveland fired one hundred guns.