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Dickson says there was no seal upon the The progress of this case has reached a stage warrant, and spoke about it at the time, and in which it becomes my duty. and privilege to the marshal said it was not necessary Mitch- address you on behalf of the defence. In the ell says it was the power of attorney, about discharge of that duty it is also my right, to which this conversation took place, and Jen- discuss just such propositions, and in just such nings says he took the power of attorney out a manner as I
proper. of his coat pocket and handed it to Dickson to nouncement need create no apprehension, for I read. Here the power of attorney was openly have no ambition to play moral heroics, nor do proclaimed as the paper on which they claimed I design to pitch the key of my remarks above to hold John. Counsel does not say that Dick- the plane, on which courts and juries are son means to testify falsely, but his memory is obliged to dispose of the every-day affairs of not so good in facts that tend to sustain the practical life, with which they must deal. And government, as those that tend to its defeat. I trust that in bearing and deportment, I may The authority by which John was held, was not fall below the gravity of this high occasion. the joint authority of the power of attorney It is no purpose of mine to make this Court and of the warrant. Lowe, Jennings, and Room the scene, and this trial the occasion for Mitchell, all held possession. The indictment the expression of peculiar views and sentiments, does not allege that he was rescued from a war- any farther than they properly have to do with rant, but was rescued from Jennings acting the issues. under a power of attorney, assisted by other I need spend no declamation on the imporpersons.
tance of the case, in any of its aspects. The The defence says the indictment is bad, be- novelty of the issue, the character of the evicause it does not aver that John owed service dence, the argument of counsel, based on the to his master in Kentucky under the laws central idea of property in man, mark this as thereof. But the indictment uses the words of standing strongly out from all the subject-matters the statute. Is not that sufficient? Such ever before adjudicated in our courts. In the minds as Clay and Webster, in framing the act, sort of neutral ground that ever stretches from did not think the words under the law there- the feet of the advocate as he arises to the act of” necessary, although they were in the act ual case which he must discuss, there is usually of '98.
found a variety of matters, usually more or less The jury will be compelled to find that the discussed, which I shall pass unnoticed. crowd went to Wellington in defiance of the There is one subject, however, lying partly in law, caring nothing for it, to rescue this fügi- that neutral ground, and in part connected with tive, in the midst of his own protestations and the gist of the case, upon which I must remark; against the right of his owner made evident to, and in so doing, I may, and probably shall, adthem. Mr. Bushnell was the principal one in vance sentiments with which you cannot sympathat crowd at Wellington, having induced per- thize; and for the utterance of which, I only sons to go there armed, saying to one that he ask the toleration which, on all occasions I would had no business there unless armed. Bushnell extend to you. Whatever diversity of sentiis proved to be in the crowd, and there is no ments may exist among us, as citizens of this contradiction of the fact that Bushnell was in great free State, there can be no diversity of the buggy, being the same buggy in which the interests. negro was placed. It was not Bushnell's horse You are here merely and purely because you and buggy, and he therefore must have been are such citizens. As jurors, you represent the selected for the purpose of carrying the negro only unqualified democratic element in our govoff. Bushnell was in waiting according to his ernment. The path which leads from your citioffice, when John was put in the buggy, cracked zens' seats to your seats as jurors, is straight and the whip, and away he went. At Oberlin, this level, or rather you bring your citizens' seats is thought to be a good joke. People around with you, and sit with all your good vigorous Oberlin think so little of their government and sense, experience, feelings, sympathies, hopes, the statutes of the Federal Government, when fears, passions, and prejudices as men upon they interfere with their sympathies with negro you ; yet all chastened and elevated, subdued women and men, that they consider their viola- and toned by the oath which binds you to the tion a good joke. Is it right any people should duties of this present high calling. impugn the laws of the land, knowing no law As such citizens and such men only shall I but their own consciences? This is a serious address you. question. Any jury of undebauched minds will And now, as to the matter referred to, the soexecute this statute in the same faith as in any called doğma of the Higher Law, I am frank to civil or criminal case under statute law.. say, gentlemen -and I never had a sentiment Judge Bliss spoke two hours and a half. I was not ready to avow-I am perfectly frank
to declare, that I am a votary of that Higher Mr. RIDDLE addressed the Court and Jury, Law! And I here, in the face in substance, as follows:
e of this high tri
bunal, boldly proclaim, that he who has no highMay it please the Court; Gentlemen of the er regard for the right than that which is enjury.
forced by the penal code of the country which
is so unfortunate as to number him with its citi- who, in the observance of one of those old great zens, -- whose moral sense does not rise above rights, has broken the contravening man enactthe coerced observance of the criminal statutes, ment- the statute, as against him, shall receive
is neither a good citizen, nor an honest man. the narrowest possible construction to exclude
Right, and its everlasting opposite, Wrong, him from its penalty. Take the case before existed anterior to the feeble enactments of men, you as it would have existed in the absence of and will survive their final repeal – and must your statutes, and state it the most strongly for ever remain Right and Wrong, because they the Government. This boy John; so poor that are such, unchanged and unqualified by your he had no father to give him a name, and so acts of Congress, and statutes of your Legisla- abased that he could never be called a man, tures. Will any mortal say that there can be and in mature years could only graduate an no right, no wrong, outside of the U. S. Statutes uncle - - was held to service to John G. Bacon, at Large ? Dare any man arise here and say in Kentucky. Held how? by what contract ? in the face of this sun, that the gossamer threads under what obligations, and for what benefit of human enactments, can break through or conferred on him? Because he was a slave, is bind down the everlasting pillars of justice, as replied. Because he was that thing which all the set up by the Almighty himself ?
laws of God declare cannot exist. How came It is conceded that the will of one man can- he a slave? What great crime had he comnot accomplish this. If one cannot, ten cannot, mitted, the adjudged penalty of which was this nor ten thousand; nor can they confer power doom? The malignant genius of his race on any man, or set of inen, who can do it. doomed him at birth — he was born a slave!
You may erase, expunge, exile and outlaw He belonged not to the God who made him, this thing, Right; from your Statutes, and de- the father who þegot him, or the mother who nounce it as wrong, and still' it is Right. Tra- bore him! but to John G. Bacon, of Mason duce it till it seems leprous --- arraign, condemn, county, Kentucky. He was a slave because his and execute it as felon, and it is still Right, mother was a slave, and she because her mother Imperial Right! who will lord it right royally was a slave. And her mother was ravished over the consciences of men, and punish their away from her demolished cabin, murdered husnon-observance. And the wrong which you band, and slaughtered children, in the wilds of enthrone in the place of banished Right, is still Africa, and did not perish in the horrors of the wrong. No matter though it reign till proscrip-middle passage. And this felon right to this tion sanctify its ursupation, it is wrong Jurors stolen woman, transmitted unimpaired through may be sworn by its authority, and learned her descendants to this claimant, constituted his courts so adjudicate as to uphold its supremacy, sole and exclusive title to the boy: John, and it is still everlasting wrong, and not Right, he held him in Kentucky, by just the same rob
Suppose in a given instance the old right has ber hand that the ancestor was held with in been repealed by one of your statutes, and the Africa, the hour of her capture. And this wrong enacted; what, then, is to be the conduct John, thus held, and under this obligation, with of the subject ? Can there remain a doubt as the wrongs of generations burning in his veins to the real course of his action ? " But he — with his face towards the North star, and, as breaks the law of the land !” exclaims a pious if polarized, fied – fled in the night --- frightpatriot, with horror, “and all for such a flaw ened, as captives flee; over the snow-whitened as conscience!” A word about that thing of earth, under the stars, and, at his approach, the breaking the law of the land.” How do you Ohio river congealed, that he might flee. obey the law? Why, either by doing the The claimant pursued him, as the men-steal things it enjoins, or submitting to the penalty it ers pursued, his ancestors, with shackles, siximposes. Both are equally obedience. Every shooters, and knives, and by the same right citizen has this choice held out to him, by every alone. Overtaking, they added the sneaking penal statute, and you cannot proclaim a man artifice of the thief to the violence of the roba bad citizen when he acts conscientiously on ber, and seized him. As they thus held him in his choice, nor say he disobeys your law when his agony, the defendant and his associates aphe submits to its requirements. Suppose such proached; and, knowing John was a slave in a man is wrong in his choice, he challenges Kentucky, and how and by whom he was there respect and admiration, and is not amenable to held, that he had escaped, and how and for the contumely of those who gibe and jeer him. what purpose he was then seized and held; and
But if he is right, if the path of conscience knowing all this, they put forth their strong in the onward progress of the race, is ultimately hands, and, wrenching John from the grasp
of recognized as the way of truth and holiness, his captors, consigned him to the boundless then, gentlemen, the dungeon to which you realm of freedom! This is what they did, and would send him becomes a luminous sanctuary, all they did, and in so doing they obeyed the and the grave to which you would consign him, laws of God, as written in revelation, as written a star-crowned shrine, to which the feet of all in the free creation, and stamped in the nature coming generations will journey, to gather wis- and instincts, of man. dom and inspiration! And hence the legal Don't be alarmed, your Honor; I know this rule, while dealing with an alleged offender, case is to be adjudged by none of these principles here. I know that this highest embodied that John was held to service in Kentucky by achievement of the Christian civilization of the the laws thereof. It follows the language of nineteenth century- the fugitive slave act of the statute, but that is insufficient. September 18, 1850 — always to be named The Court: The Supreme Court in the U. S. with profound gratitude and veneration, at one v. Mills, 7 Peters, held, that for misdemeanors perpendicular sweep, attempts to clear the it is sufficient to set out the offence in the lanwhole moral decalogue and scatter its divided guage of the statute. fragments, and I know I may not ask you to Mr. RIDDLE: Very well, the Statute and Conset it aside, or the jury to disregard it. But, stitution must be taken together to form the law warring as it does upon every element of the in this instance. common law and all primitive notions of right, I have always understood the rule of good I am authorized to demand of you as a court, pleading to be, that where a statute creating, a the narrowest construction of this act - for Law crime clearly defined it, you shoull follow its I will not knowingly call it for the very pur- language in an indictment under it; but where pose of excluding this case from its straitened it merely named the offence, the indictment in scope; and I may require at the hands of this apt words must set up the acts and things going jury, a liberal construction of all the conduct to make up the offence; and under that rule of the prisoner, so that his acts may fall outside this indictment is wholly defective. of its penalty. In the defence of such acts, How can the Court learn from this indictment arraigned under such a statute, the arts and by what bond John was held to service, and finesse of the bar, which, when exerted in favor short of that knowledge, how can it determine of flagrant crime, approach chicanery, come to that he was holden as required by this statute ? be a sacred host striking for beleaguered inno- This is not the instance of good title defeccence ; and that stale maxim, that “ai man is tively stated, but of title upon which they can presumed innocent till proven guilty," that alone recover not stated at all
. If not necessary floats an imponderable formula in the legal at- to allege that John was held to service, I am mosphere of ordinary cases, arises around such clearly certain that it is necessary to prove it by a defendant, an impregnable fortress, until car- evidence to this jury, for it is a question of fact ried by overwhelmning proof; and those intan- for them under instructions. gible entities, called reasonable doubts, assume Does your honor, or can this jury be prethe form of robed angels bearing assurances of sumed to know what are the laws of Kentucky? escape and safety. And if, over all, a convic- Suppose, as a historic fact, you take it as true tion must take place, let the blow fall in the that Kentucky is a slaveholding State, can you presence of averted faces; and when the con- go farther and say that certain classes and devict stands up for sentence, he occupies a moral scriptions of persons are slaves ? and that John level above the tribunal that pronounces judg- is of that class and description? I know the ment, and the judge who dooms is abashed in U. S. Supreme Court and its judges, as such, the presence of the criminal he condemns. will, ex-officio, take notice of all the laws of all
Let not these defendants now or ever be de- the States, and for the amplest reasons. The nouced as fanatics, or bad citizens. If it shall rule and its reason, are thus stated by Judge ultimately be found that they violated this your McLean in the case just cited by me. satute, they come to suffer its penalties. They “ The Supreme Court and its judges recoghave not sought to place themselves beyond nize without proof the laws of the several States, your jurisdiction. Your marshal had but to and territories. The jurisdiction of that Court notify them, and lo! they are here, unresistingly and of its members extends throughout the to endure if they must.
Union. In the respective States they adminisYet again, I repeat it, they must be reached ter the local laws so that the laws of those only through “the strait and narrow way” of States come under their special cognizance in this act of Congress, unlike that other way, and acting upon individual rights.” leading to the other place. They are guarded The Supreme Court is bound to take notice by fiery cherubim, armed with the many-bladed of all laws within its territorial jurisdiction, besword of the common law, that flashes every way; cause of that jurisdiction alone. A District and all are to be beaten down in this legal con- Judge by the same rule takes notice of all the flict ere they can be reached.
laws within its territorial jurisdiction only. "Let us now look directly at the case under How, then, can this Court take notice of the the law and testimony. Mr. Riddle here made laws of Kentucky, any more than would or a point to the Court, on the sufficiency of the could any of the Courts of Ohio ? indictment. It was therein alleged that John Suppose this Court will hold as matter of was held to service in Kentucky, but did not state law that Kentucky is a Slave State, it will still, how he was holden, and hence the Court could I presume, require proof of the status of this not judge of the legality of that holding.
John. I know the witnesses swear John was a In Miller. v. McQuerry, 5 McLean, 469, it slave, but whether he is or not is mixed queswas decided that the holding to service within tion of fact and law, not to be proven in that the provisions of this slave act, must be by law general way. By the witnesses the Govern
and hence this indictment should allegel ment must prove a state of facts which under
the Kentucky law, will constitute a slave. The he fully awoke to the cries of mercy, and a facts as proven are, John's mother was a slave; bleeding Union; and kindly offered one half of and he labored, loafed, and lived in some sort John to whoever would catch and divide him. without wages. If your Honor knows all the We are told that on the 4th of Sept. 1858, he law of Kentucky, can you tell us whether a duly executed the alleged power of attorney, child born in that State follows the condition under which the indictment says John was capof the mother, contrary to the rule of the civil-tured and held, to the redoubtable. Anderson ized world ? and whether a person receiving Jennings, of Mason County, Kentucky, which no pay is a slave ?
causes the elephantine proportions of that warWe are farther informed in this valuable doc- thy, to loom ominously on the horizon; yet ere ument from the Grand Jury, that John was I turn my attention to him and his doings, I owned by John G. Bacon, an allegation to be have a word to the Court as to the legality of proven as laid. John G. who appears before this power of attorney. The 7th section of the us a veritable Scriptural Patriarch, swears in Slave Statute provides, that the owner of any set terms that John was in truth and fact his escaping slave 56 his, her, or their agent or attorparticular exclusive and unqualified John. He ney, duly authorized by power of attorney in also says that he inherited John from his pater- writing, acknowledged and certified under the nal Bacon, and has living a mother, and five seal of some legal officer or court of the State brothers and sisters - which is every word he or territory, in which the same may be executsays about it. Mitchell whose especial mission ed; may pursue," and capture such slave, etc. to Ohio was to be a witness, goes farther and The power of attorney given in evidence says, that John G. got John on the division of which is alleged to have been acknowledged his father's estate, but frankly says he knows before Robert A. Cochran, Clerk of the Mason nothing of that division, or whether one ever County Court, Kentucky, on its face purports took place, except by rumor. Thus it stands, to have been acknowledged before him by his then, Bacon the elder owned John, and died deputy, one Richardson, which is clearly insufleaving a widow and six heirs at law, and then ficient. the proof stops. If the Court knows all the Does this Court know that by the laws of law of Kentucky, will your Honor have the Kentucky, the deputy of the Mason County goodness to inform me if by that law this par- Court is a legal officer of that State ? If so, ticular John would fall to this particular John the acknowledgment should have been before G.? If not, I beg to suggest, that in Kentucky him as such officer in the exercise of such ofas in Ohio, he fell to the six, who, for aught fice. proven to the contrary, continue to own him as Can it be performed before a legal officer, much as men may; and instead of his being the by his deputy ? Clearly not. The laws of property of John G. as alleged, he owns the the State designate who are legal officers, and valuable interest of one sixth of him only. this statute designates them and no others, as
This indictment farther says, that John being having this peculiar virtue. In taking this such slave, and so owing service -- what an acknowledgment they do not act by virtue of equitable debt -- on the first day of January any State law, nor in discharge of any State 1856, fled - the ungrateful infidel! He ran duty, but wholly and purely by force of this away, and good enough for him! On the whole statute, and a deputy under the State law can proof I think that allegation true, and I con- only act for his principal in the discharge of gratulate all hands — the Court, the District- some State function; he as such, deputy can do Attorney, and particularly this naughty John, no act for his State principal under this act; that this is proven.
the moment he steps out of the line of his duty He went off with that high-headed ” Di- as a State official, he ceases to be his deputy at nah, and “pop-eyed Frank,” and it seems the all; and this act authorizes the appointment of infection reached the horses, for two of them no deputies. went off at the same time. Yet whether John Again, the taking of this acknowledgment is and Frank and Dinah went off with the horses, purely a judicial act
, and cannot be performed or whether the horses went off with Dinah, by deputy. “The legal officers” of a Siate susFrank, and John, does not quite appear, and tain the same relation to the statute of 1850, as may not be very material. It is very certain did the justices of the peace, etc., to the old law they all scampered off together, to the huge of 1798, and, according to Prigg's case, might grief of John G., the detriment of religion act under it or not, at their option. They must South, the great danger of the Union, and the first decide whether they would train under it, disgust of the American Eagle generally. and, having so decided, must then perform a Court adjourned to Tuesday morning.
judicial function. In the certificate under con
sideration it will be seen that the officer says he On resuming the next morning, after recapi- had personal knowledge, that the John G. tulating, Mr. Riddle went on to say. John fled Bacon is the veritable John G., etc. Now can Jan. 1, 1856, and for two years and nine months it be claimed that the knowledge of the deputy his bereaved master lay in a trance of stupefied is the knowledge of the principal; or that the horror, at this act of ingratitude and treason, ere | chief, in profound ignorance of the fact, can
have this vicarious knowledge through his sub- high office. He forgets the dignity of his official ordinate ?
position, and consents to play pimp and pander And let it be borne in mind that this ac- to this bawd of American Slavery. knowledgment is an act before the clerk, and Jennings passes by Marshal Dayton, goes to in no sense the action of the Court of which he Columbus, arms a marshal there with a waris clerk, which could be certified to by a deputy rant, which is not needed to assist an owner or only because it was the act of the Court. agent in the caption of his slave, and returns
It is, then, with entire confidence that we to the precincts of Oberlin. Keep it in mind, rely, that the ruling of this court will be, that that this man Jennings is, for the time being, this power of attorney for these reasons is the owner, and the only man who can capwholly insufficient; which will dispose of the ture; and that he sends Lowe to take out the
game after the trap has been sprung, himself It is further alleged, Gentlemen, that this the while sitting quietly at his ease, with the Jennings, armed with this power of attorney, power of attorney safe in his inside coat-pocket, pursued this same John into Ohio, and there, in his room at the celebrated Russia House. by virtue of the same instrument and no other And will you mark it well, Gentlemen, that he captured and held this same John. Your this man Jennings, being only an agent and not closest attention to these propositions is re- the actual owner, although clothed by his quired, because each must be proven as laid, power of attorney with full authority to arrest and the Court will tell you if any other man the boy with his own hands, or by posse, in his than Jennings, by any authority, no matter immediate presence, had no power to confer what, captured and held this same John, this upon another, either by parol or writing, the case must fail, no matter what. the defendant authority, vested in himself to seize and arrest may have done.
Then with a desire only to this boy John. The power to appoint is exhaustarrive at the truth, and do justice between the ed, so soon as it is transferred from the principal parties, and remembering all the time that the to an agent. It cannot be transferred from the Government must beyond doubt establish its agent to another. Jennings, then, Gentlemen side of the case; and not forgetting that it is of the Jury, not attempting himself to authorseeking to enforce a statute made up of unmin- ize Lowe to recapture this slave, but having gled outrages, let us scan the proofs on these discharged all the duty for which he came to points.
the State of Ohio, in having sworn out the Armed with this power of attorney, which, warrant, put it in Lowe's hands, and having for the purpose of capture and the extradition of pointed out the game, seats himself complacentJohn, subrogates Jennings to the rights and ly in his chair at the Russia House, under the powers of John G. Bacon, what does Jennings benignant administration of good Mr. Wack, do ? He finds himself on the 8th or 10th of having, as he himself tells us, his power of atSeptember at Oberlin, with full authority. torney safely bestowed in his revolver pocket, Mitchell
, the witness to identify, is there, and while Mr. Lowe, by virtue of his useless warrant, dreaming, unsuspecting John is there. Does' arrests the man, and establishes him in his cushe want assistants ? Is not Dayton, one of tody. your deputy marshals, there also ?' Why under I do not undertake to say that the agent may the heavens then, if John is to be taken under not call assistants; but I do say that they, if so that power of attorney, is he not then and there called, must act either in his immediate presseized? Why delay and give him a chance to ence, or so near that he, being constructively become alarmed and so escape ? Can any mor- present, can direct and order their movements tal tell ?
in any emergency: but he can never organize Why, plainly enough, Gentlemen of the Jury, a posse, and send them away to make an arrest! because it was never intended to so act under any more than could the owner in Kentucky, that power of attorney. He sneaks off to Colum- by parol, organize a band and send them into bus to one of these high and mighty commis- Ohio and legally recapture an escaped slave. sioners, appointed to execute this Embodiment I know, Gentlemen, that this man Mitchell, of all the Virtues of Christian Civilization in sent to Ohio for the express purpose of acting these Latter Days, and there uses his power of as a witness, says that the power of attorney attorney for the only purpose for which it was was actually shown to John! A most gracious ever given, namely, to swear out a warrant for favor that, indeed, especially since he tells us the seizure of the negro; and this is all the use in the next breath that he thinks John did n’t to which this power of attorney ever was put. read it, because he could n't, and had n't time if he
Why, what was Lowe there for? If Jen- could; and Mr. Jennings swears positively that, nings could call Lowe to his assistance, exercis- at the time Mitchell avers he showed it to John ing all the functions of the owner for the time (when the arrest was made), it was in his own being, he could just as well call any other man (Jennings”) breast pocket, in the Russia House, or number of men. The United States Mar- at least two miles from the scene of the affectshal by virtue of his warrant has no more power ing interview between John and his old friend to assist in the arrest of a slave than any other Mitchell.
He acts not by virtue, but in spite of his But who seizes John ?