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Trial of Bushnell begun -- Lowe arrested for kidnapping - The traverse jury --The indictment The
law - The Constitution - Testimony of Bacon; of Cochran; of Jennings. - Second Day - Jen-
The Kidnappers in trouble --- Judge Carpenter's Charge to the Grand Jury. - The first Indictment ---The
first Warrant - The second Indictment --- The second Warrant- The Journal entry. - Judge Willson
NINE years ago the moral sense of the better part of our nation, not to say of the civilized world, was shocked by the passage by Congress of the Fugitive Slave Act. The iniquities of this new device of oppression, its assault upon personal riglits in the virtual suspension of Habeas Corpus, its daring invasion of States-rights, its summary and cruel process of recaption, its arbitrary requirement that all citizens shall serve the man-hunter at his call, and the vindictive penalties which it denounced against any who might be constrained by self-respect or humanity to disregard its infamous precepts, - these peculiarities made this composing draught* as “molten lead to a mint-julep" in comparison with all previous pro-slavery Federal enactments. Language could not describe the terror which this villany framed into law carried to the souls of the colored people scattered through the North, who saw that now, whether free or not, they might, at any moment, be spirited away under nominally-legal forms, and consigned to hopeless slavery. Nor could words express the profound apprehension with wliich the friends of Freedom foresaw in this new and abject concession to the slave-holding power its final predominance in our country.
But the horror with which this so-called law was very generally regarded in the Free States was qualified, and almost, if not quite appeased by the conviction that so infamous an enactment would not and could not be enforced. Alas, for the hopes based on this conviction! The carrying into slavery of several persons afterwards proved to be free, and the recaption of one poor fugitive from oppression after another, soon proved that the cruel statute was not a dead letter. It has been from its enactment a living, as well as terrible, reality.
* The illustration is borrowed from a Speech made by a celebrated Cleveland divine soon after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act.
What this ordinance, misnamed law, is; what its purposes, what its denands, and what its penalties are, and what the measures by which it enforces itself against the conscience and sense of justice which everywhere in the North oppose it, — all these points have been well illustrated in the now celebrated Oberlin-Wellington Rescue trials. These trials occurred on the Western Reserve a name honorable for the reputation for love of Freedom which is coupled with it, and may, therefore, be supposed to exhibit a fair encounter on a fair field between the despotic enactment, and the outraged sense of right which protests against it. They engaged on both sides, and at the bar of both the Federal and Supreme State Courts, the highest legal talent in the State. A correct history of them will, therefore, show clearly wliat the Fugitive Slave Act is, and what measures its enforcement requires.
Such a history is presented in this volume. Its compiler is a young man of excellent ability who has had more than common experience in reporting public events, and it has been made up, as the undersigned know from constant communication with the compiler, and from a careful review of his materials, with religious fidelity to truth.
In closing this Introduction, we beg leave to urge the readers of this volume to inquire, in the light of what is here presented, whether the fact that the Fugitive Slave Act can exist, and be in form enforced, does not prove that regard for Freedom no longer presides in the councils of our Government; that the slave-holding power has smitten down the personal rights of freemen, and trampled on the honor and rights of the States; and whether, if the Free States do not speedily, by judicial and legislative action, assert their riglits, our whole country will not soon, under the operation of the Dred Scott decision, be embraced in the arms of a gigantic tyranny which shall know no law but its own despotic will.
Especially would we ask: our fellow-citizens of Ohio, whether they are willing longer to allow arbitrary encroachments on the part of the Federal Government, and timid deference to precedent on the part of our State Judiciary, to make our noble State a mere province of an overshadowing empire of centralized and malignant power.
H. E. PECK,
CUYAHOGA COUNTY JAIL, Cleveland, Ohio, July 1, 1859.