The Cleveland Daily Herald

Cleveland, May 7, 1859

The Rescue Case – Trial of Langston.


      Mr. Lowe, re-called by prosecution – Witness canÕt tell whether any men came into the door when John went out or not; witness went to the door as soon as he saw it open and saw John just as he was going down the stairs; as many as a dozen people were behind following him up: witness denied that any conversation passed between him and Patton about giving up the boy; or that witness consented to give up the boy.

      Cross-Examined – Witness recollects no conversation about letting the boy go for fear they would injure Mr. WadsworthÕs house; pretty positive that witness had conversation with Patton after returning to the room; donÕt know that Patton returned to the room with witness; the remarks made to witness by the stranger to the effect that the people would not regard the warrant was made before the time Patton says it was.

      Mr. Jennings, re-called by prosecution – There was no conversation between witness and Patton about letting John go; Mr. Patton hallowed to the crowd outside that he would have the nigger soon; he asked witness to let John go and he, witness, slacked up; the crowd came in and John was taken out and Patton backed out with them; Langston came in to the door with the crowd when John was taken out.

      Mr. Bennett, re-called by defence – Witness is acquainted with Wm. Siples and has been for six or seven years; the character of Siples for truth and veracity is not as good as menÕs in general.

      Mr. Meacham, re-called, by defence – Witness has known Siples for seven years; his reputation for truth and veracity is not as good as menÕs in general; should not believe him on oath.

      Mr. Watson, re-called by defence – Witness went upstairs but one during the afternoon with Langston, this was before any paper was read at all. (This contradicts Siples.)

      Mr. Gillett, sworn – Lives in Wellington; have known Siples six or seven years; it is generally believed he is not a man of truth; it is not as good as menÕs in general.

      (This witness is one of the indicted and has the snows of 74 winters upon his head. The sensation in Court, as this old man, one of the most respectable citizens of Lorain County; and of the State, came from the jail, was very decided and deep).

      Mr. Loren Wadsworth corroborated the testimony of others as to Siples bad character for truth and veracity.

      Here both parties rested.

      District Attorney Belden opened for the Government. After introductory remarks he took up the testimony in the case under the several heads.

      1st. The District Attorney assumed that it is proved that John was a slave of BaconÕs, and escaped into Ohio, and was pursued by BaconÕs agent, and seized as alleged in the indictment. Those facts are so plain that he would not spend time upon them. That John was rescued, he argued, was equally plain, unless it be true that as Patton says, Jennings let him go. The District Attorney argued that even if the negro was given up by fear of destruction of property &c., was just as much a rescue as if actually forced from them.

      Counsel then commented upon the power of the master to take his slave either by himself or agent and claimed that the Power of Attorney was properly executed and was good; he characterized the attempt to impeach Mr. Cochran as important and miserable. Counsel then passed on to the manner in which John was captured at Oberlin, arguing that the course pursued by Jennings was the proper one owning to the state of feeling at Oberlin.

      Counsel then passed on to the agency Langston had in the rescue, characterizing his conduct as very cunning and very hypocritical, very shrewd but very deceiving. Counsel then argued as to the evidence showing the exhibition at Wellington of the Power of Attorney claiming that it was well known to Langston that there was such power in the hands of Jennings; that the crowd knew as well about the existence of the Power of Attorney as they did of the warrant.

      The District Attorney then said he would read some law to the jury. Here Mr. Backus, counsel for defence, arose and asked if he understood the counsel for the prosecution was about to follow the case of the Wanderer in South Carolina where counsel claimed that the jury were the judges of the law as well as the facts; and where the Federal Court held that the jury were the judges of the law. Mr. Belden thereupon became very much excited and pronounced Mr. Backus a demagogue, said the Court of South Carolina did not hold any such thing. Mr. Backus said such was the newspaper report. – And thereupon Mr. Belden grew as black in the face as the Devil is painted and yelled out: -ÒYes, newspaper reports, they are pretty authority when the very atmosphere we breathe is blackened with their lies.Ó The District Attorney evidently hates newspapers.

      The District Attorney cooled down and came back to the case, arguing that the proof showed a common intent and therefore notice to one of the crowd was notice to all. He argued also, that Langston was in the crowd not to keep the peace, not to punish kidnappers, but to rescue the negro. Counsel claimed that the negro was in the custody of Jennings from the time Jennings arrived in Wellington; the expressions used by Langston were pointed out and commented upon as proving his agency in the rescue.