The Lorain County Eagle
January 29, 1859
“The Felon’s Feast.”
“Professor Peck,” of the musket platform notoriety, recently found himself someway mixed in with a “fugitive slave” rescue at Wellington, in consequence of which he was politely waited upon by the Unites States Marshal, and invited to appear before Judge Wilson, of the United States District Court. We do not wish to be understood as saying that the “little Professor” was at all disturbed by this token of respect from the Court aforesaid, but it, or something else, did draw from him about that time, one of the most pitiful plaints imaginable. The “Rev. Musketeer,” no doubt, supposed that his “heart rending appeal” to the sympathies of his negro-worshipping fraternity, in Oberlin and vicinity, would be echoed back, not only in consolation (which is always acceptable in times of affliction,) but by material aid also, and it is barely possible that the “lilliputian divine” indulged the vain hope that the adamantine heart of Judge Wilson would soften under the mellowing influence of his sanctimonious wail. But finding the “Hon. Judge” no less than an “ungrateful public,” impervious to his lamentations, he next tries his band at “bombast and threatening,” and here “Richard is himself again,” and to those not acquainted with his essential nothingness, and undeserved popularity, a sham celebrity, may be gotten up by such incantation; but frailer than the spider’s gossamer, the first breath resolves them into vapor. Gas to gas, they mingle with the surrounding ether, and neither its serenity nor its purity is visibly affected by the infusion. But neither the whining appeal in his first letter nor the “bushel or bosh” in his second, had any effect-to-counteract the just indignation of all lovers of law and order, at the miserable business in which he and his six and thirty followers had been engaged. And to-day they stand convicted, by the verdict of an impartial community, as violators of the laws of that country, which, by the way, they, and such as they never can serve better than by leaving it.
But the little “fourth of a bushel,” finding the “lamb” and the “lion” alike impotent to save, and that men were neither to be wrought upon by can’t and sniveling, nor frightened by his visions of retribution, tries next an appeal to the stomach, and on Tuesday of last week, as amiable a set of Gormands as ever graced any “southern barbecue,” met at the “Palmer House,” in Oberlin. They met responsive to an invitation to “feast with the felons aforesaid.” We understand that “bids” were sent to a large number of pretended sympathizers I this place, all of whom found it convenient to “be excused” except Horr and Washburn, who, by the way, never fail to go wherever there is a prospect of getting something to eat at somebody else’s expense. Whether the quality or quantity of eatables displeased the boys, we have not been able to learn, (thought we suspect the latter,) but they made up a most lugubrious brace on their return to Elyria. If the “Immortal Thirty-Seven,” felt honored by the presence of the delegation from our town, we rejoice at it, and assure them that the need feel under no particular obligations to Elyria as the town was not seriously discommoded by their short absence, and we are sorry on their account, that Elyria is not blest with more whose sympathies can be reached only by “grahambread,” and whose souls (if they have any) are located in the abdominal region.
Harris, of the Cleveland Leader, we are told, was there, and that he constituted the delegation from Cleveland. – He, of course, had an “axe to grind,” in the way of getting subscribers for his paper, and no doubt made it pay.
But the result proved the whole affair a stupendous sham, exciting only the disgust of those who heard of it, and of none more than the participants.
The Lorain County Eagle
May 4, 1859
Public Sentiment on the Rescuers.
It is an excellent thing to see that the doings of the Abolitionists upon the Western Reserve are being denounced or ridiculed nearly all over the country. The more unscrupulous and fanatical Republican papers of Ohio and the New York Tribune sustain them; but the general sentiment of the State and country is a mixture of indignation and amusement. We think the general ridicule the Abolitionists of the Reserve are drawing upon themselves by their absurd and impotent proceedings in defiance of the law, will be as apt as anything to do them good. Instead of being held martyrs, they will speedily discover, they are generally esteemed great fools, and if we have not much mistaken them they cannot stand to be laughed at. Their stolid bigotry clothes them with an impervious armor against reason and patriotism, but the trenchant shafts of ridicule will pierce it. In commenting upon what has taken place, the Rochester Union says:
“The U.S. Court of Cleveland is busily engaged in trying some thirty or forty teachers of Oberlin and others, who rescued a prisoner from the custody of U.S. Officers some time ago. One of the rescuers, named Bushnell, has already been convicted, but is not yet sentenced, and the others are in course of being found guilty as fast as they can be put through the process one at a time. The untried are in prison as a matter of choice, having refused to remain at liberty on no other recognizance than their own simple word. We fear that in their anxiety to become “martyrs” they have rather overdone the thing, and will be written down as asses on all hands, a result to which their organs, the Herald and Leader, are contributing as much as possible.”
The Lorain County Eagle
May 25, 1859
“Resistance to Tyrants, Obedience to God.”
Thus reads the caption of a blazing poster recently exhibited in divers conspicuous places about town, calling upon the faithful throughout the Reserve, to come up to Cleveland and consider the recent “judicial outrages” perpetrated upon Northern rights and Northern liberty. Startling language that to be used by Republicans in a republican government in a time of peace. An unsophisticated mind would naturally be led to suppose that our government is the eeriest despotism on earth, and that we are now in the midst of a crisis which demands immediate action on the part of every obedient servant of God, to resist and put down the fell spirit of tyranny.
The ostensible object of this meeting, according to the manifesto, was to consider the recent “judicial outrages” on Northern rights and Northern sentiments, and to devise means to prevent a recurrence of the wrongs. What wrongs, or what particular sentiment of the North has recently been so grossly outraged does not appear from the bill, and we are left to conjecture. But following as it does, so closely on the heel of the conviction of Bushnell and Langston, we think we may safely conclude that eh “outrages” complained of are in some way connected with these trials.
Perhaps the refusal of the Supreme Court of Ohio to grant the writ of habeas corpus applied for by them and their companions in distress, is one of the wrongs complained of so piteously – though it’s hard to conceive how five Republican Judges could concur in committing so palpable an outrage on “Northern sentiment” which properly understood in this connection means “Oberlin” sentiment, - And it is possible that the instigators of this “God and Liberty” project flatter themselves that said Court may be awed into submission by the imposing gorgeousness of their ridiculous demonstration. The fact that this thing has been hatched out since the issuing of the writ of habeas corpus by Judge Scott of the Supreme Bench for the bodies of Bushnell and Langston. The refusal of Judge Scott to act on the matter further until a full bench could be obtained, and the more significant fact that this farce was to be enacted the day preceding the one set for the hearing of the writ aforesaid indicates most emphatically, one purpose at least, which the Oberlinites had in view in concocting this miserable burlesque. That the saddle-brained fanantics of that detestable sink of Abolitionism, should thus be deluded into the hope that the judiciary of Ohio might be suborned or intimidated by such windy demonstrations, is not to be wondered at. But, that men of sense, should beguiled into the puerile fancy that the Supreme Court of Ohio could swerved or influenced, cajoled or frightened by such wretched babblements, is more than we were prepared to believe.
But perhaps it has come to that. We are not quite sure but the time has arrived when constitutional questions are to be decided and expounded, not by construing the language, and ascertaining the intention of the makers of the same, but by the amount of folly and furor that may be gotten up by a half fare indignation meeting, instigated and carried through by a set of harebrained fanatics, who, whatever they may know about the “higher law” and “Phinney Theology” do not know enough to appreciate the laws of the land, and are not fit to enjoy the blessings of our free institutions. If such is to be the order of things hereafter, and the judiciary are to be governed in their decisions – by law word and the Constitution, but by the amount of clamor that may be gotten up by such “half-fare” tom-foolery as this, we shall soon be fit only for the slaves of “tyrants.” But we are not yet prepared to believe that the judiciary of Ohio are to be bamboozled with any such transparent impositions; and if we are not much mistaken this stupendous sham; like the “Felon’s Feast” at Oberlin will pass by the ermined Judges at Columbus, “as the idle winds which they respect not.”
The Lorain County Eagle
June 1, 1859
Another act in the great Oberlin farce has been played out, and yet law and order are triumphant. The Supreme Court of Ohio, on the 30th inst., refused to discharge Bushnell and Langston, but remanded them to jail. We can but pity them. We pity all who suffer, much more those who sin and suffer; still we must sincerely rejoice at this action of the court, and we hazard nothing in saying, that we share that feeling in common with nine tenths of the citizens of Ohio. That it would have been establishing a dangerous precedent to have discharged Bushnell and Langston, at this time, can be doubted by none but fools and fanatics. But there are men in this vicinity who make some pretensions to shrewdness, who thought, or pretended to think, that it would be done, and some of our wise-acres went so far as to assure us that they knew from “private sources,” that the court would discharge them. – The disappointment of the more radical of the Black Republicans of the Reserve at this decision, is deep and bitter.
They had been through with all the incantations, which they supposed necessary. They had held their “big show” in Cleveland, with old Gid to preside, and Gov. Chase for second fiddler, and many were deluded into the belief, that the same foolery which caused the “great unwashed” of the Reserve to throw up their sweaty caps for nullification and higher law, would captivate or intimidate the judiciary.
Perhaps if the court could have seen the proceedings of the convention held in Elyria a few days since, and heard the speakers tell of that terrible perdition which awaited them if they refused to discharge the prisoners, they might have decided differently. But the radicals of the Reserve are bound to damn them now, together with all who refuse to dam them. What the next move will be is more than we can imagine. – Perhaps the “Songs of Liberty” in Ashtabula County will now proceed to carry out their famous resolutions and tear the Cuyahoga County jail down. We wait for further proceedings.
The Lorain County Eagle
July 6, 1859
The great kidnapping case against Messrs. Jennings, Mitchell, Low and Davis, out of which certain aspirants for County offices expected to make so much capital has most ingloriously fizzled. It was generally understood among the “hangers-on” for office, that the man who could show himself the greatest sneak in the conduct of the above case, should receive the undivided support of the Oberlin faction at the next October election.
How they succeeded is not for us to say – but that our Sheriff and Probate Judge have fully established the reclaims to a re-election can hardly be questioned. And as the Republican press is busily engaged in circulating false reports concerning the course pursued by said dignitaries, we propose to give our understanding of the matter as derived from the best of authority. On the 2d inst., Marshal Johnson arrived in town with Jennings & Co., or rather Jennings & Co., arrived a little in advance of the Marshal. Sheriff Burr by some means ascertained or suspected that a writ of habeas corpus had been allowed by Judge McLane for Jennings & Co. and he (Burr) concluded that he had business out of town, and left before the Marshal arrived promising to return as soon as 4 o’clock in the afternoon but did not return until 9 o’clock in the evening and then immediately put himself out of sight purposely to avoid the service of the writ upon him. Perhaps Burr and his friends can reconcile such dodging and sneaking with his duty as an officer, but we cannot.
Judge Doolittle then agreed that he would receive the surrender of Jennings & Co., the next (Sunday) morning. But it appears that he was taken pious during the night and concluded that he couldn’t do such business on Sunday, and for the first time a dog’s-age, “fixed up” and went to church – agreeing with District Attorney Belden, and Marshal Johnson, that he would be in his office at an early hour Monday morning and take the surrender. The extreme piety of said Burr and Doolittle proved rather transitory, and they were both induced to go into a secret caucus on Sunday evening without any visible compunctious of conscience or religious scruples.
On Monday morning Belden, Johnson and the Kidnappers went to the Probate office as per agreement with the judge, but found said office locked, and on going to the residence of the judge, they were politely told that the judge had departed the city sometime during the night, and that important business had called him to Painesville. What business he had in Painesville that should require him to get up at that time of night and go across by Oberlin, or whether he went to Painesville or not is more than the uninitiated can tell. But one thing is certain, Lorain County was without a visible Probate Judge for two days, and would have been till now, had not this kidnapping case been abandoned. It is now contended by some, for the purpose of relieving Judge Doolittle somewhat of the odium, which justly attaches to the course, which he has pursued, that he had no right by law to receive the surrender of Jennings & Co. But such people seem to put but little confidence in their own logic. If Doolittle could not lawfully take the surrender of those men, where was the necessity of the miserable dodge on his part? Why should he be driven to the dire necessity of leaving his bed at three o’clock in the morning, hiring private conveyance to Oberlin, thence to Painesville when he could have reached the latter place quite as soon by taking the cars at Elyria in the morning?
Thus far every shift and evasion resorted to by Burr and Doolittle to screen themselves from censure in this case, has proved a miserable failure.
The foregoing is, we believe, a truthful narration of the proceedings in this case so far as Burr and Doolittle were concerned; and now if they can stand forth in community and show themselves to be fair, impartial, honest and honorable executors f the laws, we shall be glad to see them do so. Until they do, we shall consider the course, which they have pursued as one heretofore unheard of in the history of Lorain County officials – a course which we will do them the credit of saying, we think they never would have pursued had they not been over persuaded by meaner men than they can be.
The Lorain County Eagle
July 6, 1859
Since the arrangements were made by which the cases pending in the Federal Courts in Cleveland, against the Oberlin Rescuers, and the case in this county against the Kidnappers, were discontinued, the Republicans are making some very silly attempts to convince somebody that the Oberlinites have achieved a great triumph, and that the Government has backed down or something. Perhaps we are inordinately obtuse, but for the life of us, we can’t see in what the Government has shown the white feather. As we said during the trial of Bushnell and Langston, the Government was driven into the prosecutions of those men by their insolent audacity. They wished to let them know that the laws of the United States could and should be enforced, even on the Western Reserve. – The law was enforced, Bushnell and Langston were tried, convicted and imprisoned. Thus far the triumph seemed to be altogether with the Government. – After the conviction of Bushnell and Langston, the other cases were continued till the July term of said Court. Meanwhile applications for a writ of habeas corpus in favor of the whole squad had been made and refused. Not much of a triumph for the fanatics in that. Again after sentence, another application was made for the discharge of Bushnell and Langston, and was refused, and where was the triumph in that attempt? The next move was the most ridiculous farce ever enacted by men calling themselves sane, to wit the martyr playing comedy of the Oberlin Saints in refusing to go home when told. Well, they were allowed to take their choice, and we suppose therein consists their triumph. But some of them say they did not voluntarily stay in jail; if that be so, and they were actually coerced to that durance vile, then the Government has succeeded in punishing them all I the same degree, as far as imprisonment is concerned, and it is safe to conclude, that such a miserable set of hair-brained fanatics have nothing to pay fines with. The Court, in sentencing Langston, took into account the time he had previously been confined, and had the others been tried and convicted at the July term, and a retrospective sentence awarded, the matter would have stood about as it does now. Then where is backing down? They had their clutches on four men whom they were bound to send to Penitentiary at all hazards, regardless of law, testimony, order or decency. And we must say, that if those Kentuckians were to take the proceedings of Burr and Doolittle as a specimen of the modus in which their trial was to be concluded, they had some reason to tremble for their safety. But they are discharged and have gone to their homes. The rescuers are also discharged and Oberlin rejoices. What they are crowing about is hard to imagine – we suppose they are thanking God that matters are no worse with them.