« PreviousContinue »
holding that first conversation with Lowe! You twenty minutes before the second, and that down see, then, how utterly unjust it is to claim that to the last moment of the second, he believed he was serving a double purpose; that he was that Langston was acting in good faith in his communicating the information that he had de- behalf, endeavoring to still the crowd and perrived up stairs from Lowe, and at the same suade them to the use of peaceable measures. time covertly advising the crowd not to follow And that he was induced to suspect Langston's those peaceful means, which he had himself all honesty only by the observation he made as he along recommended.
was passing out of the room at the close of this Now, it is said that he and Patton came out second interview. He says that when Langston about the same time -- or Barber, who swears had urged him, in view of all the circumstances, to it, says he saw them coming from the direc- to get himself out of what then seemed to be a tion of the back yard; that he, standing in the dangerous position, by using his influence with lane (see diagram), saw them coming along Jennings — who had declared himself to be the there, approaching him from the direction of the owner - to give up the negro, and Lowe had door leading up stairs ; did n't know whether peremptorily declined making any such attempt, they came out of the door together; did n’t Langston rose up and passed out rapidly, and know, in fact, as they came out of the door, as he passed out, said, "Well, we'll have him, either of them, at all at that time. What he any way.” Now I want you to compare this does know, is that he saw them approaching him, testimony of Lowe with that of Jennings and moving outward toward the crowd in the street, Davis. (Of Davis I know very little; but havPatton some fifteen feet ahead of Langston, and ing been privileged with a longer acquaintance that Patton, addressing himself to the crowd, with Mr. Jennings, I think he could bring himsaid, that the only legal way to inquire into the self to believe almost any thing, particularly custody was by a writ of habeas corpus from since he got that "jabble” on his head !) Elyria, but it was too late then to go for one, Now, because Jennings testifies to a thing, I and they must do as they pleased. He says know there is no man on that Jury simple that Langston had nothing to do with this pro- enough to suppose that it must necessarily be clamation ; does n't know as he even heard it, true. Not that Jennings, in telling his absurdior was near enough to hear it. That Langston ties, would always know that he was lying; he stopped some fifteen or eighteen feet back of might have some indistinct idea that he was doPatton, and went to talking with persons there, ing something not quite in keeping with the advising the use of peaceable and legal meas- Code of Honor down in Kentucky, but as to ures. I shall not attempt to allude to all the lying, nothing is surer than that they never testimony on this point. Here you have Ben- taught him what that was in that Church of nett and Howk and Wheeler and Barber per- which he is such an exemplary member, down haps, and others who all swear to the unvaried there! [Laughter.] What possible plausibility tenor of Langston's conversation and conduct, is there for believing that Jennings and Davis as not only passively, but actually and positively heard Langston say to Lowe in the first interlaw-abiding. After having been absent some view — and at no other conversation were they twenty minutes, he returned and called Lowe present—"I won't help you; but we'll have out into the little room at the head of the stairs. him any how ?” Mitchell won't swear to any They went into that room and sat down on the such thing; he was brought here for the exbed together, and there they talked, no one be- press purpose of swearing, but you can't fetch side themselves being present. There was no him quite up to that! So that either Jennings conversation on this occasion in the room where and Davis testify to what was not true, or else the negro was, but all that was said was said Lowe testifies to what is not true. And Lowe while they were alone together in the little room gives you the best reason in the world for beadjoining the stairway, and beyond the reach lieving him, for he declares that up to the time of the ears of those who were in the room with Langston left the room, at the close of that secJohn. Well, Mr. Lowe himself tells you what ond private interview, he had entire confidence transpired in this second (and besides the one that he was faithfully working for him. And already alluded to, during which the train how is it possible to suppose, for a moment, that passed, the only) conversation they had together he could have retained such an impression if that day. He tells you that Langston said to Langston had met his overtures in the first inhim, “ I have been below, talking to the crowd, terview with such unqualified refusal and reendeavoring to influence them to take a legal pugnance as Jennings and Davis represent ?
but without success. They are deter- But I know very well how these good easy mined to take their own course.”. Was he then souls
, and especially my old friend Jennings, playing false to Lowe? Not unless Bennett after hearing Lowe tell of this remark of Langand Howk and you all saw in Mr. Howk's ston in the second interview, might actually imhonest face, at any rate, that he was a man that. agine that they heard it too; and Lowe, unfordid n't know how to lie unless Jacob Wheeler, tunately, not having taken pains to impress upon swears false, he told Lowe the truth. Now, them that it would n't do for them to swear to Lowe tells you that he saw Langston but twice it, since he would have to swear that it was that day; that the first interview. broke up made in the second and private interview, at
which neither of them was present, nor near the villains were forced to release their
prey. enough to be within possible earshot, they out There was reason enough, then, why this dewith it before it could be stopped, and then fendant should say, that that investigation bethere was nothing but the “jewel of consisten- fore the magistrates ought to proceed, and that cy" left to them; so they stick to it. And the crowd should be satisfied with nothing short now with so strong a reason for believing Lowe of it. And even, Gentlemen, if, hearing that rather than Jennings and Davis, is n't your Lowe had a warrant -I am talking now about course a plain one, Gentlemen ?
his action in reference to the service of this There are other witnesses upon whom the warrant, which, you will not forget, was immeprosecution rely to implicate Langston. In this diately after his arrival in the crowd, and before confusion of testimony it is next to impossible Lowe had sent for him to hold the first converto fix the time of the occurrences which are sation if, I say, hearing that Lowe had a testified to. But it seems to be clear, that, dur-warrant, he was satisfied in his own mind; still, ing the earlier part of the time Langston was and none the less, for the satisfaction of the there, busied about the arrest of these men for crowd, and because he might be deceived himkidnapping, in order that their authority might self, and because the man's liberties were all at be subjected to official inspection, he was get- stake, was it not his unquestionable duty ting up or helping to get up a bond of indem- he not owe it to humanity and justice to do by nity for the constable, who, it seems, was a lit- that boy as you would have demanded of him tle tender-footed about serving the warrant that to do by you in like peril
to press that official had been issued by Mr. Justice Bennett. It is investigation, and to rest satisfied with nothing said that Dickson drew up the bond, and Lang- short of it?' I know the District Attorney has ston circulated it. This was before Lowe sent said, and his associate may reiterate it, that it for him, it is important to remember; before he was not proper for the constable to obey the had any reliable intimation of the authority mandate of any such warrant, or to attempt under and by virtue of which they claimed to any such arrest. But suppose Langston honhold John. It was not Langston who swore estly thought the law authorized it, and acted out the warrant. The warrant had been sworn upon such honest belief, solely for the purpose out, and the constable had attempted to serve of securing the rights of all parties, and paving it long before Langston was seen anywhere in the way for the escape of the officer from the that crowd, On his arrival, he heard a dispute difficulties that environed him, if his papers about the legality of the custody. Patton, or were found to be right; - and if they were not others, may have expressed, in his hearing, a right, the District-Attorney would not be seen belief that the custody was legal; but here was standing up here to claim that that crowd ought a warrant already issued, and in the hands of to have allowed a case of kidnapping in their the constable, the service of which would insure midst ! ---shall a man for such conduct be a satisfactory examination. Making use, there- branded by this Court as a violator of the pubfore, of that common sense, which, I take it lic peace and the rights of citizens ? A man upon me to say, he showed himself to be pos- intending only a lawful course, and advising it sessed of in an enviable degree, he thought it only to prevent an outrage which was equally on all accounts best to have a legal investiga- liable to be perpetrated by either or both partion, that John might neither be rescued nor ties; coming between them as a peacemaker to carried off without any one knowing what sanc- adjust their difficulties according to law -shall tion there might be for either course. He very he be branded a felon, I say, and punished with properly told the constable, “You have no right the enormities of the provisions of this Fugito go behind the warrant in your hands, and tive Slave Act? inquire into the legality of its issue ; your sole But this attempt to get the constable to arrest business is to serve it.” Bring the men before failing, afterward you hear of him in that alley these magistrates, candid, honorable men as stating that a habeas corpus from Elyria might they are, and it will then appear whether the be obtained, and was, therefore, the next best custody of John is legal or not, and the decision legal and peaceable resort, and offering, if a of these magistrates will or ought to satisfy the horse and buggy were furnished him, to go for crowd. Suppose he did hear something about it. And is it not probable then, are you not a warrant, and perhaps even something of a bound to believe, that he was anxious that a power of attorney; -- he none the less justly legal course should be pursued; if not for his demanded a legal, official investigation. Why, own satisfaction, at least for the satisfaction of some of you must have heard of the case in the more turbulent portion of the crowd ? Akron, where, a short time since, a colored As I have already said, I shall not attempt man was seized by certain scoundrels, under to go over in detail all the testimony that has the pretence that they were arresting him for been given as to what he said and what he did passing counterfeit money; they exhibited a in connection with this transaction. It has forged warrant, which purported to have been been accurately done by my associate, and issued by Minor, the Clerk of the U. S. Court; must be fresh in your recollection. But I wish but some one happening to look at it, who knew to call your attention now to the conflict beMinor's handwriting, detected the fraud, and tween the testimony of the Government witnesses upon several important points, for the Lowe one hundred dollars, if he got the "nign purpose of reminding you that it must be with ger," and pay his expenses from Columbus to a great degree of caution that you give credit Oberlin at any rate, that he made the same to what they say; that their testimony is such agreement with Davis ; which latter statement as plainly to show that they have either forgot- he afterwards explained by saying that it was ten what occurred, or else their inclination is to be one hundred dollars for both. But Lowe such as to debar them from credit at your comes up and swears roundly that there was hands. For instance, you have had the testi- no pecuniary arrangement whatever made; mony of Jennings and Bacon as to the arrange- but that he expected to charge his usual price, ment under which Jennings came out here in which is $2 a day and expenses ; that Jennings pursuit of John. I frankly confess that I see indeed offered him a hundred dollars, but his nothing in the appearance of this man Bacon, incorruptible integrity spurned the bribe, and to authorize me to asperse his character for so there was no definite arrangement made. truth and veracity, though I cannot but regret Davis says he never heard of the hundred that he could not employ his valuable time to dollars, and made no bargain; expected to better advantage than in hiring some wretch to charge his usual fees as deputy-sheriff. Isn't recapture the boy John, so ardently loving his it rather unfortunate that there should be such own freedom; or in being here to carry on this a difference of opinion among these gentlemen, prosecution against a man who sought only to and especially that Mr. Jennings can't get any keep and not to break the law. I know that it of his stories to jibe with anybody's else? may be said that he is here as a witness under Now there is another witness for the governprocess; but I know, too, that if he be, as is ment, one Sciples, who testifies that he saw the alleged, the owner of the boy. John, a wave of defendant twice on the afternoon of that day, his hand would doubtless have prevented the and that the second time he saw him was on indictment being found.
the floor of the second story with Watson, Bacon swears that he promised Jennings, as some time about the middle of the afternoon. the consideration for attempting the capture of Saw him only twice, and the second time he the nigger," $500, or one half what the was with Watson on the second floor of the 6 nigger" would sell for, provided he brought hotel, and this was about the middle of the him safely back; and otherwise he was to have afternoon. But when recalled to patch up a nothing. He says that this was an explicit lame case, he swears that he saw hirn going up agreement. Jennings swears that there was the stairs with Watson when the rush was · no arrangement whatever about compensation; made, immediately -- only a few moments that he undertook the return of this wayward | before the rescue. An important addition to youth as à neighborly duty, an act of pure his reminiscences, and a little remarkable that benevolence; expected that his actual ex- he could ’nt think of it before. So much for penses would probably be paid — though for his consistency. And so with a large portion some reason they never have been yet-- but of all the witnesses for the Government. had no idea of ever getting any thing more. But some one of them testifies that while Now why is it that these men, at the very Langston was circulating a bond of indemnity threshold of the first trial, cross each other's for the constable, he was told that the constapath in this way? Do they not impeach each ble would n't serve the writ, that he had reother, or, at least, one impeach the other ? fused to do so, and he replied, “I do’nt care; What credit can they expect you to give them ? we'll have him, any how.” And of this the I verily believe Bacon, for he appears truthful, learned counsel for the Government are disand testifies to what is reasonable; but I am in- posed to make much handle. But is it fair to clined as strongly to distrust Jennings, because do so ? How impossible for any one hearing so he appears any thing but truthful, and talks equivocal and isolated a remark to fix positively any thing but common sense. Why does Jen- upon its meaning; to say absolutely whether nings disclaim the influence of any definite he meant that they would have Lowe, whose number of pieces of silver upon his pious and arrest was the sole object of his immediate neighborly heart ? Can it be that that gun attention, and who might be taken with this penetrated so far into his head as to awaken warrant by any one of numerous constables, to activity some latent moral perceptions of other than Meacham, within a few minutes, the reputableness of " nigger hunting ” as com- call; or whether he meant John, whom he had pared with other walks of Christian usefulness ? as yet promised no relief, directly or indirectly, It is of course of no pertinence to the issue on except by the hands of the proper officers of trial what the terms of Mr. Jennings's engage- the law and through the operations of strictly ments were ; but it is of some importance to legal processes ? And it is really remarkable how the government and to you, Gentlemen of the this single phrase seems to have been heard by Jury, whether the chief witnesses for the Govern- every one of a certain class of the Government's ment can tell the truth when there is no possi- witnesses, up stairs, down stairs, out of doors, and ble inducement to lie!
everywhere, — the echo seems to haunt them On this trial Mr. Jennings swears that his all; and yet nothing can be more flimsy than bargain with Lowe was that he was to give the statements in connection with which this
phrase is quoted by every one of them. Even but a moment before the rescue took place. Lowe gives the whole weight of his testimony He says he saw that. · Watson is brought to against the probability of its use in his pres- the stand, and swears straight out, with the ence; and the others are either flatly contra- emphasis and boldness of an intelligent and dicted or impeach themselves.
honest man, that he was only in that hall And now notice this remark and its connection, that he only passed up those stairs --- in comas Lowe says it was made to him alone, at the pany with Langston, once on that day, and that close of that second private interview, in the little that was when he was sent by Lowe after room up at the head of the stairs. Until this Langston, and returned with him, which was moment, every word, look, and act of Langston immediately prior to the first interview between had inspired Lowe with confidence that he had. Lowe and Langston, during the continuance of in Langston a friend who would, at least, labor which Lowe distinctly remembers that the train against a forcible rescue. Even Langston's passed; and this, he says, was at least two hours kind endeavors to get Lowe out of the scrape, before the rescue, and that the testimony of Sciby advising him to urge upon Jennings the ples in reference to his going up with Langston expediency of parting with John voluntarily, | immediately prior to the rescue, is utterly false. rather than risk a defence against the excited It is said that Wheeler swears he also saw and stubborn crowd, did not shake his confi- him pass up some time before the rescue, though dence. He trusted him confidently until, at he can't tell exactly when. But he also swears the last moment, when it became plain, as he that he saw him going up those stairs with says, that negotiations were wellnigh at an Watson only once, and Watson very clearly end, Langston rose, and striding rapidly out, fixes the time and adds that they went up tosaid, " I don't care," or " well,” or something of gether only once. So Wheeler only corrobothat sort —“we'll have him any how.” I need rates Watson : without particularly helping the not dwell on this point, since my associate has Government. And as to Sciples, --- you, Gendone so; but you would be surprised if I passed tlemen, heard the testimony that was given here over so important a point, without calling your as to his life-long reputation for truth and veattention urgently to it. The statement was racity, and it was of such a character that I not repeated; Lowe asked for no explanation; need make no comments upon itLangston went off, and did not return; Lowe feel yourselves authorized to give his testimony says he did not come up with those who took the slightest weight. John off; he neither saw nor heard any thing I believe then, Gentlemen afterwards on that day, that would implicate [Mr. GRISWOLD called off Mr. BACKUS's athim with the rescuers, any more than he did tention for a few moments.] before this fatal word was let slip; so that the I am reminded, Gentlemen of the Jury, whole of his conduct that day, except in the may it please the Court, that before I close I use of this ONE WORD, was peaceful. Mr. should not pass over without comment a posiLowe, of course, though he can hardly tell day tion taken by the District-Attorney in his openfrom night on any other point, could not haveing remarks; and that was that any interfermisunderstood Langston, and thought he said ence with the parties having John in custody “WE," when in fact he repeated what he had whether by way of legal proceedings or otheralready said with impunity, “ THEY!” No; it wise was unwarrantable and inexcusable resissuits the purposes of the prosecution, Gentle- tance to the authority of the United States ; men, that you believe in Mr. Lowe's infallibility that it was not in the
of any magistrate on this point, since his testimony in other to order an examination of them by arrest, or points does but help the defence, and on this in the power of a constable to serve a warrant point there is no one to contradict him but the if it were placed in his hands; and that whoever defendant. So that it appears, I say, that the advised such proceedings was equally criminal, whole of the defendant's conduct on that day, guilty, and chargeable with unlawfully particiexcept that one word, was that of a peace- pating in attempts to rescue, with those who maker and law-conservator. But Lowe comes appealed only to intimidation and force. It here into Court, and the anxious witnesses all seems to me that nothing farther need be said seeing what a ghostly chance the Government upon this point than was said by my associate. has left, and hearing Lowe fix up that little I cannot for one moment believe that any one pronoun so nicely, scratch their heads and will stand up here and say that a person thus swear that they heard him say it too, and that acting in good faith to secure merely a legal inhe was saying it on all manner of impossible vestigation of the tenure going behind no and improbable occasions. Now, Gentlemen of paper presented — by which a presumptively the Jury, can you lay your hands on your free person is claimed to be held in close custohearts and say there is NO ROOM FOR A dy, under circumstances which not only justify REASONABLE DOUBT as to whether the but oblige the darkest suspicions, makes himself word used by Langston was “we,” or “they?" liable to, and is to be held primâ facie, as wor
One word more about Sciples's testimony, or thy of condign punishment as one who appeals that part of it in which he avers that he saw only to physical violence ! Certainly, I say,
it Langston passing up those stairs with Watson, cannot be that any gentleman who makes the slightest pretensions to a knowledge of law will And now, Gentlemen of the Jury, I know stand
up here and risk his professional reputa- that there is a mass of testimony, which it has tion upon so reckless a statement as that! "The taken us some two weeks or more to draw out, gentleman cannot be serious. The indictment that I have left untouched, even after so lengthý alleges no such resistance to authority, but re- remarks as I have already made. But we will sistance with “ force and arms,” and therefore let all of that pass. I feel sure that
will if it be resistance, and be proven, it cannot not lay stress upon isolated sc or garbled come before you, Gentlemen, who sit here only words and phrases in the testimony, especially to ascertain whether the allegations of the in- such as run utterly counter to the entire drift dictment are proven.
And I take it, therefore, of the whole. And that you will not do this is that the discussion of this point -- if a discus- all I could wish to ask at your hands; for, unsion could be seriously maintained ! must fall less you should do it, you must render the veraltogether outside the limits of this case. dict most grateful to your own feelings, and
But if it were involved in the case, I should which I am sure could not be unpleasant to my take it upon myself to say, as my associate has client or his counsel. said, that if a person should procure such an Under the instructions of the Court, you will investigation, not for the purpose of honest and find, if those instructions shall be as I anticiimpartial investigation, but as a cover for other pate, that the power of attorney was fatally deand illegal proceedings, then the parties crimi- fective, and that all proceedings under it were nally and deceitfully acting under such cover incapable of laying a foundation for this charge. might be amenable to this statute. But even But if the Court shall differ with me here, and then, the movers in the matter acting with dis- you travel down to the next point, I am cerhonest and criminal motives, if any other per- tainly unable to see from what portion of the son in good faith should promote such issue and evidence you are to discover that the rescue service of process for the sole purpose of law- was, as the indictment alleges, from the cusful inquiry, in good faith and for the promotion tody of Anderson Jennings ! But if
, contrary of justice, and in ignorance of the true charac- to all my most confident expectations, under ter of the power under which the parties sought the ruling of the Court, you are forbidden to to be arrested held their prisoner, can this investigate this point, and are forced on to the Court lay down such a rule of law as it is re- next, then I know that, on this question of quested to by the District Attorney? that my fact--from the investigation of which you canclient, thus acting in good faith, for the sole pur- not be driven, - I say, then, I know that you pose of ascertaining the truth, that he might gov- can never find -- in my humble estimation ern himself by it, is amenable to the penalties of that the purpose of this defendant, in his cona criminal statute, and chargeable with " unlaw-nection with that crowd, was to make a breach fully, willingly, and knowingly,” resisting compe- of the peace and to encourage an illegal restent legal authority? I know that the gentle-cue. You must find — unless you throw away man read an authority from McLean's Reports, all this testimony and manufacture for yourin a civil case for the recovery of the value of selves -- that he labored for peace and for peace a slave, that it can make no difference what are only, for legal measures, and for legal measthe motives to interference so long as the injury ures only. And I know, too, that there is not to the plaintiff is the same; but where has it a man among you who can lay his hand upon been laid down as a rule of law that a man can his heart and say that there is not ground for be guilty of crime when his motives are inno- one reasonable doubt whether the allegations of cent and absolutely submissive to Law? I ut- the prosecution in this indictment are proven terly repudiate the existence of such a doctrine, or not; so that, in the case of this defendant, and I shall most assuredly take it for granted let the character of the rescue itself be what that no such rule will be laid down by this Court, it may have been, you will be forced to find a till my own ears bring me the incredible proof. verdict of Not Guilty. Why, who ever heard of an individual being And now,
And now, Gentlemen, I believe I have said convicted of larceny for going into your house all that I am warranted in saying upon this and taking an article under the honest impres- subject. I have endeavored to meet the issues sion that it was his own, while in fact it was presented fairly and squarely. Whatever may yours and not his all the time? Though an be my own views of the constitutionality and action for trespass undoubtedly would lie for propriety of the statute upon which this prosethe full value of the article thus abstracted. I cution is founded, I must, for the purposes of know that it may be necessary to invoke such this trial, regard it as constitutional and of full a rule of law for the purpose of procuring a force. But I do not wish to be misapprehended, conviction in this case, for certainly without its and to seem to occupy a position that I do not aid this Jury can never on their oaths find a occupy. And, therefore, I wish to say of that verdict of guilty ; but I think I can risk noth- threat of the District-Attorney, that he hoped ing in saying that I know this Court will never the counsel for the defence would not be allay down such a rule as law, and that you will lowed unrebuked by your Honor to comment not take the talk of the District Attorney as a upon the enormity of the statute itself, that I part of the Charge of the Court.
hope you will do me the justice to believe that