175th Anniversary of Oberlin College and the City of Oberlin: 1833 - 2008

Oberlin-Wellington Rescue


An Oberlin man who often harbors runaway slaves takes in fugitive slave John Price, 18, who had been living in Mason County, Kentucky, but managed to escape to Ohio with the hope of making it to Canada, where his freedom would be assured. Price wandered about for almost three years before making his way to Oberlin, a religious community known for its opposition to slavery.

A man who claimed to be the son of a wealthy landowner approached Price and promised him work harvesting crops. Unbeknown to Price, the man was working for a group of Kentucky slave catchers, who whisked Price to nearby Wellington, Ohio.

News of the capture spreads throughout Oberlin, mobilizing the townspeople who marched about nine miles to Wellington on a mission to free Price. Wellington residents joined the effort. The rescuers, without bloodshed, recaptured Price and escorted him back to Oberlin before transporting him to Canada.
Among the rescuers were 30 from Oberlin: 12 African Americans and 13 whites, four students and a professor. Officials charged 37 of the liberators with violating the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act for their part in the rescue but later release them from a Cleveland jail. The case draws national coverage. Years later, the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue would be known as the incident that set the Civil War in motion.

Read more about the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue.

Sources: Electronic Oberlin Group, Oberlin College Archives, Ohio History Central, and the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History