Boston, July 22, 1859
Release of the Oberlin Rescuers.
As we have already stated, the Oberlin rescuers were all released from imprisonment at Cleveland, on the 9th instant, the government entering the plea of nolo contendere. Of the discharge of the rescuers, and also of the kidnappers, the Cleveland Leader says:
‘The attempt to enforce the Fugitive Slave act on the Western Reserve by government officials for political effect, has resulted in a most disastrous defeat of the projectors, and of the whole scheme.
Never were a set of men worse used than have been Jennings, Bacon and Mitchell, the Kentucky slaveowners and slave-catchers who tried to seize a negro in Oberlin, by the government officials who sought to make a good thing of it for themselves and for Democracy. The prosecutions were commenced without the knowledge or consent of those who claimed to have even a running interest in John, and they have been obliged to leave their homes repeatedly at the call of these officials, for the purpose of working the conviction of the objects of their political hatred and unrelenting persecution.
The men released yesterday were Messrs. H.E. Peck, Ralph Plumb, J.M. Fitch, John Watson, J.H. Scott, James Bartlett, David Watson, Henry Evans, William Evans, A.W. Lyman, Richard Windsor and W.E. Lincoln.
Dr. Bois, who is out on bail, and all the rescuers who were indicted but not arrested, were included in the nolle prosequi.
Mr. Bushnell is still in jail; serving out his unjust sentence. His time will expire on Saturday next. Mr. Langston was set at liberty, by expiration of sentence, some time ago.
Just as the rescuers were leaving for their homes, they stepped into the parlor of the jail, where were present their attorneys, Messrs. R.P. Spalding, A.G. Riddle, F.T. Backus, S.O. Griswold, Sheriff D.L. Wightman, Jailor J.B. Smith, H.R. Smith, who had rendered the rescuers repeated service, with their wives and numerous friends, when Mr. Plumb, in behalf of the prisoners, presented the ladies, for their husbands, each a beautiful silver napkin-ring, fork and spoon, engraved with the initials of their husbands, and ‘From Rescuers;’ ‘Matthew 25:36.’
Mr. Plumb, in a brief and happy vein, said that the prisoners, though poor, were desirous of resenting to them a small remembrance, in token of the high regard in which they hold them, and in acknowledgment of the valuable services they had rendered them during their imprisonment - to their counsel for legal aid, and to the others for services scarcely less valuable. And he wished to request their wives to place the gift before their husbands, at meals, three times a day while they lived, that they might, at such times, when surrounded by their families and those dear to them, when noble and generous feelings were sure to come, look upon the memento, and remember the exciting scenes through which they had just passed – that although they were intended for their husbands, like all other dear things, they would be in the keeping of the ladies.
Judge Spalding replied in behalf of the ladies and others, in a few eloquent and appropriate remarks. Mr. Peck remarked that a portion of the first hour in jail had been spent in imploring the blessing of God, and it would be consonant with their feelings to spend the last moments in thanksgiving to their protector and preserver of themselves and families and the Good Deliverer who had been their hope and support during the many days and nights of their confinement.
The news spread rapidly that the government officials had caved. Hundreds immediately called on the company to tender their congratulations. In the afternoon, about 5 o’clock, a hundred guns were fired, and several hundreds of our citizens gathered at the jail to escort the rescuers to the depot. At 6 o’clock, the whole company, headed by Hecker’s Band, marched two and two to the depot, through Superior and Water streets, the band playing ‘Hail Columbia,’ ‘Hail to the Chief,’ ‘Yankee Doodle,’ &c. On arriving at the depot, three stentorian cheers were given with a good will for the rescuers, when Judge Brayton of Newburgh was called upon for a speech, which he gave in his vivid and eloquent style. After this the company bade farewell to their friends, and took their seats in the cars, and the train started amidst the hurrahs of the people, the band playing that peculiarly appropriate air for the occasion, ‘Home, Sweet Home.’ Thus has ended the great Oberlin Rescue Case.
The people of Oberlin were making preparations to receive the rescuers yesterday afternoon. We doubt not that the returned husbands, fathers, brothers and sons, will have received a welcome such as the worm-hearted people of Oberlin know how to give.’