The Liberator

Boston, January 28, 1859

The Slave-Rescue Case in Ohio

Arrest of the Student Lincoln in his School

Letter from Prof. Peck, of Oberlin.

(From the Columbus State Journal.)

Oberlin, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 1859.

      Editor State Journal: - Your readers have been advised of the facts that the alleged rescuers of the slave John, at Wellington, have been indicted, and most of them have voluntarily appeared in Court to answer to the bills found against them. They will, perhaps, be interested to hear of a new feature, which the case has taken on - the violent ARREST, IRONING and IMPRISONMENT in your county, of one of the parties indicted. The gentleman who has suffered the indignity I am about to describe is a young Englishman, a member of College in this place, and a person of excellent character and deportment. Before notice of the indictments was served, Mr. Lincoln, for such is his name, had gone to your county to take a school. The fact that he was in the neighborhood was presently discovered by Mr. Samuel Davis, a bailiff in the United States Court, and a helper of Deputy Marshal Lowe, in ‘the Wellington case.’ With a zeal worthy of his Wellington antecedents, Mr. Davis wrote to Cleveland for a warrant for the arrest of Lincoln, and on its arrival he made haste to execute it. The serving of the writ occurred in this wise: About [2] o’clock on Friday last, Mr. Lincoln was engaged in the duties of his school, when suddenly one of the children cried out with terror, (for threats from the officers had reached the ears of the scholars,) ‘Master, there comes Sam Davis.’ ‘Well, children,’ answered the teacher, ‘whatever may happen, keep perfectly quiet.’

      There was a knock, the door opened, Mr. Davis and another of the same breed presented themselves. ‘Your name is Lincoln?’ abruptly said the official. ‘It is.’ ‘Ah! You are just the man I want; I’ve got a warrant for your arrest; so come along.’ And while saying this, the dignitary drew from his pocket a pair of manacles, which he proceeded to attach to the person of his prisoner. ‘Stop,’ says Lincoln, ‘I shall make no resistance: I shall of course go with you; you need not put these things upon me.’ But the plea was of no avail. The official could not lose the opportunity for revenging the fright he had got at Wellington. So, kindly giving his captive permission to say a few words to his school, he drove off with is prisoner in chains; and that prisoner an unoffending Christian man, who would have scorned to make the least resistance to the writ which had been served. I ought to say that the valiant official did not get away until the outraged children had launched at him a good many epithets less complimentary than true.

      The arrest completed, Davis proceeded to lodge his prisoner in the jail of your city, which was twelve miles distant. On the way, he was several times asked to remove the irons, but refused to do so, nor were the manacles unclasped till the prisoner had been taken into the interior of the jail and introduced to Marshal Lowe. Then, when Lowe had sufficiently triumphed over his prey, the young man was turned loose among the felons who were to be his companions for the night. Precisely how desirable a lodging among thieves in a fetid cell swarming with rats was likely to be, you can imagine as well as I.

      Presently, the prisoner made an effort to communicate with personal acquaintances in the city; but the greatest favor he could receive was the promise that a letter should be lodge in the Post Office (to get thence to its destination after he should be miles away.) But, though in bonds, the captive was honored with company. Two or three men came in, evidently either to sound or taunt him. One of the visitors was Dayton, Clerk of the House, who hails (and we always put on sackcloth and ashes when we acknowledge it,) from our place. As he was ‘in cahoot’ with Lowe when that worthy was man-hunting in Lorain, it was proper that he should be invited in to share the official’s triumph. Some of us wonder that we did not think of making some recompense for the protection he enjoyed at our hands, when his soul shivered before popular rage which his complicity with kidnapping roused, b hastening to Professor Monroe, whether he as asked to do so or not, and telling him of the plight a neighbor was in.

      Not to dwell on further particulars, I may say that the prisoner was kept with no food till the next morning at 3 o’clock, when Lowe started with him for Cleveland. At Cleveland the prisoner was discharged on his own recognizance, as soon as Judge Wilson could be found. Now, if manacles and imprisonment in a jail are not singular treatment for a man who is on his way to be discharged o his own recognizances, and whom the attending officer had reason to suppose would be so discharged, then I am altogether mistaken.

      And I am still more mistaken if Davis and Lowe do not find, before they get through with this matter, that kidnapping in Ohio and all its adjuncts are serious and expensive amusements. I promise you, sir, that the fire, which this outrage has kindled in Lorain, will not go out till an effort has been made to teach these arbitrary and insolent officials that freemen know what their rights are.

                                                            Respectfully, yours,

                                                                                    H. E. PECK.