The Cleveland Daily Herald

Cleveland, May 6, 1859

The Rescue Case – Trial of Langston.


      B. Meacham’s evidence continued. – Witness went to that room the third time; went up to get Lowe to go out and read his warrant; Siples and Mandeville went up; Lowe rather objected to going out, but witness said he would protect him, and witness said he thought the people would be satisfied if he would read his warrant; witness thinks Siples and Mandeville volunteered to go up with witness; Lowe finally agreed to go out and read the warrant; there was nothing said about any Power of Attorney; no other paper was shown beside the warrant; the warrant was read near the Drug Store; the crowd gathered around to listen to the warrant; think the remark was made before reading the warrant that if the crowd would give their attention Mr. Lowe would read the warrant; Mr. Lowe began to read, but was bothered, and Mr. Patton finished reading it; no other paper was read or commenced to be read; heard nothing the whole day about a power of attorney and never since; when the reading of the warrant was finished, witness went back to the room with Lowe; it was sundown, witness thinks when the warrant was read.

      John G.W. Cowles sworn. – Reside at Oberlin; was present at Wellington part of the day, and Oberlin part; came from the West on that day at one o’clock about, and went up through Oberlin; about 2 o’clock heard of John’s arrest; Patton and Scrimiger came into witness’ room in his father’s house, and told witness a boy had been kidnapped; witness took horse and carriage, and drove towards Wellington; there was a crowd as they passed through the village of Oberlin, but no stop was made, and witness and Patton and Scrimiger passed on in the carriage to Wellington; Watson arrived at Wellington before witness; this was about 1-4 past 3 o’clock; before getting to Wellington heard the negro was in the hotel and that the house was surrounded; found this to be so, but was surprised there were so few people; There were perhaps two hundred or two hundred and fifty; the crowd seemed to be watching the hotel; standing in clusters and groups; did not know of any concert of action in the crowd; the crowd was discussing the manner of the arrest; it was said that Boynton’s boy had inveigled the negro away; witness learned from Mr. Patton after witness had been there an hour or more, that Lowe, a Deputy Marshal, from Columbus held the negro by a warrant; Patton told witness that Lowe had before been concerned in cash matters in the Clark County case; Watson in the course of the afternoon came out on the balcony and told the crowd the boy had been kidnapped, but the crowd must keep quiet, and they would have the man arrested when it would be all right; witness was told by marks that the boy John had been out on the balcony and said he wanted to go back; witness replied that amounted to nothing as under different circumstances he would tell a different story; that he could say nothing else but that with these men at his back; Marks said that he told John to jump down and they would have John if guns had not been pointed up at him; Marks said ‘we want him to get away as much as you do’; witness understood Marks, when he said “we,” to mean “we, democrats;” it was the smaller portion of the crowd that was excited.

      Heard a number say they wanted some one to take the lead; witness replied keep cool, that Mr. Patton was up in the room and things were going on well enough; this was about 6 o’clock; saw Lowe standing on the Drug Store steps, Mr. Patton was by Lowe; Mr. Patton was reading something to the crowd; witness stepped up and looked over Patton’s shoulder, asked him what he was reading; he said the warrant; there was no other paper shown nor reading commenced; no power of attorney was shown; there were from one to two hundred gathered when that warrant was read; this was near sundown and a few moments before John came out; say ten or fifteen minutes; after reading the warrant Mr. Patton said there was no seal; Mr. Lowe said that it made no difference, and he appealed to the crowd as he had proper papers to let him go on the discharge of his duty; Patton and Lowe went towards the hotel after reading the warrant, arm in arm.

      Cross examined. – Witness did not hear the contents of the warrant read from the beginning; it was generally understood in the crowd that there was a Deputy Marshal there with a warrant; heard it said in the crowd that John was claimed s a slave; did not know John; the legality of the warrant was questioned, often, by the crowd; witness tried to get in the house where the negro was, but was refused; this was at the back door and the front door was locked.

      J.L. Patton sworn. – (Witness gave the general features of the rescue – as in his testimony in the Bushnell case – and we confuse our report to such portions as bear directly on Langston, or as contradict the Government witnesses.)

      Witness went into the room between four and five o’clock; Lowe and witness had an interview; he showed me his warrant, made some threats, and referred to the men in Clark County as just escaped going to the Penitentiary; that he had telegraphed to Cleveland for troops and they would be there at five o’clock; he told him he was acting under the warrant; he did not state that any one but himself had the custody of the negro; he did not say that the owner or his authorized agent was there; he said nothing about a power of attorney; he said not a word about having delivered the boy over to Jennings; he proposed a committee from the crowd should go to Columbus to see that John had a fair trial; he asked witness to state to the crowd that he was the Marshal and had this warrant; this interview terminated just before five o’clock, when witness went again to the crowd; shortly after the train passed witness went again up to the room; found Lowe, Jennings, Mitchell, Davis, Mandeville, and others up there; heard Jennings talking with Mandeville; Jennings was telling how well his niggers at home liked him; the second time witness was in the room about an hour; witness guaranteed Lowe safe conduct through the crowd if he would go down and read his authority to the people; Lowe and witness went together to near the Drug Store; got up on the plank; called to the crowd that they were going to read the warrant; Lowe took the warrant from his pocket handed it to the witness, who read it to the crowd; after reading, witness said something about a seal, but Lowe said a seal was not essential; witness thinks there was a scroll on the warrant; Lowe than asked the crowd if he would not be allowed to go on to Columbus to return his warrant; a stranger, who witness never saw before, answered that it was not probable they would mind his warrant; this was not spoken to the crowd but privately by the stranger; this was very near sundown; a hundred or hundred and fifty people were gathered around; while this stranger was talking with Lowe, a noise was heard, and the people were seen rushing into the tavern; Lowe and witness started back to the house and went up to the room; a stranger went in with Lowe, and witness and the stranger wanted Lowe and witness to go to the front of the room; this stranger urged Lowe to let the boy go; saying you had rather let the boy go than lose your life; Lowe said he had, the stranger said there was no use talking so, he knew better; Lowe said “You know the law, and that if I let the boy go I shall be liable for him.” Just then the window came in, the crowd was active outside and it looked rough; Lowe said that he didn’t see but that they must let the boy go; all three of us went to the front of the room, Lowe said to Jennings that they would have to let the boy go; after a little, Jennings said he would let the boy go if the crowd wouldn’t hurt them; witness then spoke to the crowd through the door and said he had guaranteed the safety of the men if they would let the boy go; to this the crowd said they would agree; then the door was opened, Jennings gradually letting up on the crowd followed him; no person came into the room after the door was opened and before the boy passed out; from first to last, witness saw no power of attorney and heard of none; after hearing of the power of attorney in this court room, witness remembered its being spoken of in the warrant when read to the crowd; when in the room witness asked Jennings if the boy belonged to him, and Jennings said “yes.” Lowe gave witness no other paper to read but the warrant and did not himself attempt to read any other. Langston was not in the room when the boy left.

      R.H. Stephens sworn – Lives at Oberlin, the first he heard of the matter was the report that a man had been kidnapped; the crowd said the man had been taken by suspicious fellows who had been hanging around Wack’s tavern; so far as witness knows, there was no organization at Oberlin; they scattered off just as they could find conveyance; the last going away as late as 4 or 5 o’clock; think there were not over fifty persons who went from Oberlin; Langston’s character as a peaceable, well-disposed citizen in Oberlin, is good.

      Cross examination – The defence asked if a man who resisted the Fugitive law was not considered a bad citizen in Oberlin; witness thought it did not hurt the character of a man in Oberlin to resist the inhuman and unconstitutional Fugitive Slave law: whether the citizens of Oberlin would go so far as to justify the killing of the master he could not say; probably there were those in Oberlin who trusted in God and kept their powder dry; people in Oberlin understood kidnapping to mean the taking of a man without legal authority; did not consider that any taking of a man away is kidnapping.

      John Watson, sworn – (this is a colored man and one of the indicted) – was not in the hall on the second floor of Wadsworth tavern in Wellington on the day referred to, Langston being present and when Siples passed by; had no conversation with Langston in the second floor, whatsoever, on that day.

      (This contradicts Siples.)

      Mr. Cowles, recalled – Was in front of the hotel five or ten minutes before John came out; saw the ladder, it did not reach to the window in the attic; at that time no one went on to it from immediately after the time the warrant was read until John came out; the ladder when raised was shoved up against the window, breaking some glass and driving the whole frame in; no one went up the ladder while witness was standing there; was ten feet off; don’t think a person could get into the window.