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IS ELECTED GOVERNOR. 169
upon which, in his younger years—without hope of preferment or reward—he had staked, unflinchingly, both his personal and political fortunes.
The result of that banvass was decisive of the fate of the Democratic party in Ohio for nearly a score of years. Mr. Chase was elected by a decided majority (15,550) in a full vote; and the Republican party at once attained to an organization and discipline such as the Whig party in the State, in all its long career, had never known.
C EIAPTER XX.
Mr. CHASE AS GOVERNOR-EDUCATION-THE MARGARET GARNER TRAGEDY-LETTER of MR. CHASE To MR. TRowbridge, GIV• ING A HISTORY OF THAT CASE.
T the time Mr. Chase became Governor of Ohio, the agitation of questions of national politics was so great as almost entirely to obscure, in interest and comparative importance, questions of merely State policy. These were, however, the usual questions upon which the old parties differed in most of the States, and related more particularly to methods of taxation and economy of administration, and generally were of purely local concern. But he addressed himself at once to the duties of his position; promoting reforms wherever reforms were practicable; encouraged educational interests, as seemed to him best calculated to advance the public good;’ largely reorganized the
* In a letter under date of July 6, 1858, addressed to the State Teachers' Asso-, ciation of Ohio, Mr. Chase gives some ideas touching education. “GENTLEMEN: I regret my absence from the meeting of the Association on my own account, for I am thoroughly conscious how meagrely anything I could say would reward the attention of its members. But if I could communicate little I could receive much, as I wish to learn all I can in respect to the best means of promoting the cause of education in our State. “In that case, having been myself a teacher, and knowing something of a teacher's responsibilities, trials and aspirations, I naturally and almost necessarily feel a lively interest. No safer, no more remunerative investment of revenue is made by the State, than in the instruction of the youth. “Stinginess here is not economy. It is waste, and the worst description of waste—the waste of mind. Of that power originates the energies that make efficient whatever activities promote private or public prosperity. “The school-house is a better institution than the court-house or the state-house.
THE MARGARET GARNER CASE. 171
military system of the State; and lost no opportunity in making the voice of Ohio heard on the side of freedom and justice. At the same time he endeavored, as far as was practicable, to conciliate opposition founded in misapprehension, and to raise the position of the State to the highest point of dignity and respect attainable among the States of the Union. His public papers were models of terse and vigorous writing. The Republican party, when he left the chair, was the most compact and powerful political organization ever known in the history of Ohio. Within a fortnight after he became Governor, a slave-hunt took place in the southern part of the State, which, from its circumstances of great and peculiar horror, for a time excited an absorbed attention. The story of Margaret Garner is best told in Mr. Chase's own words, in a letter to Mr. Trowbridge:
“WAsHINgrox, March 18, ise. “. . . . The Margaret Garner case is invested with a peculiar interest by reason of its tragic circumstances. “It is impossible to state the facts except in the merest outline; but even an outline will convey a pretty accurate idea of the whole transaction. “In the night of the 27th of January, 1856, a party of slaves escaped
In the state-house laws are enacted; in the court-house laws are applied. In the school-house legislators, judges and jurymen are made. “Especially the school-house is indispensable where popular government is made a reality by universal suffrage and general eligibility to office. It is impossible to over-estimate the importance of universal education where everybody is to be a voter, and where anybody may be a President. “To make the school-house efficient, teachers must not only be qualified but honored The responsibility of their trust, the magnitude of their work, and the dignity of their calling, must be acknowledged, and not coldly acknowledged only, but thoroughly appreciated. The community hardly yet begins to realize its debt of gratitude, honor and reward, it owes to the teachers of the schools. “These things are obvious; but what practical methods are best adapted to secure the great end of giving to all the youths of the State the best education they are willing to receive and are capable of receiving, is not so clear. “What provisions for the education of teachers should be supplied; how far, if at all, the colleges of the State, and especially those more immediately under legislative control, may be made parts of the general plan of education, or serviceable to the general purpose of educating teachers; and what may be fitly and economically done to extend the benefits of the educational system beyond school-house walls by lectures and libraries, are subjects which doubtless will engage your discussions, and in respect of which I should be particularly glad to have the benefit of them.” from Boone County, in Kentucky, into Storrs township, adjoining Cincinnati, on the Ohio River. Among the persons comprising the party were an old man named Simon Garner and his wife—so far as a slave woman could be a wife—Mary; a son of the old man, also named Simon, and Margaret his wife, and their four children. . “They took refuge in the house of a colored man, living near the river's bank, below Mill Creek—a stream which divides Storrs from Cincinnati. They were tracked immediately, and a warrant for their apprehension was obtained the next morning, Monday, the 28th, from one P-, a commissioner appointed by Justice McLean under the fugitive slave act of 1850. Provided with this warrant, the United States marshal—a person named Robinson—with a gang of officers and the slave-claimants, hastened to the house where the fugitives had taken refuge. Their entrance was resisted. Young Simon, who was armed with a six-shooter, fired four shots on the party of official and unofficial slave-hunters, before he and his companions were captured. While this was going on, his wife Margaret, who was naturally of a violent temper, and now frenzied by excitement, seized a butcherknife, and, declaring that she would kill all her children before they should be taken across the river, actually succeeded in killing one, a little girl of ten years of age, named Mary. “The survivors were taken in custody, and conveyed to a police station. The friends of the slaves procured the same day a writ of habeas corpus, returnable before the probate judge of the county; which was executed by the sheriff so far as to take the slaves into custody and convey them to the county jail. “The probate judge immediately proceeded to Columbus, to confer with me as to the proper course of procedure. “The hostility to abolition, under which name was included all earnest antislavery action, was at this time intense in Southern Ohio, and nowhere more intense than in Cincinnati. At the election which had been held for Governor only three months before, I had received in Hamilton County (which includes Cincinnati) only forty-five hundred and eighteen votes, out of twenty-three thousand two hundred and eighty. The rest —divided between the Democratic and Know-Nothing candidates—represented hostility to my political and especially to my antislavery opinions and principles. “I had been Governor just fourteen days when the probate judge called to confer with me. It was not necessary for me to inform him that, in my judgment, the fugitive slave act was unconstitutional; it had been proclaimed on too many occasions to leave in ignorance a man so well informed. Nor did I think it right to make any suggestions to a magistrate concerning a decision to be made by him. What he naturally desired to know, and had a right to know, was whether the Executive of the State would sustain the process of the State in the midst of a community in which, by most persons, any decision against the claims of masters
THE MARGARET GARNER CASE. 173
would be regarded as little better than treason to the Constitution and Union. I did not hesitate to assure him that the process of the State courts should be enforced in every part of the State, whether in Hamilton or any other county; and authorized him to say to the sheriff that, in the performance of his duty, he would be sustained by the whole power at the command of the Governor. “The case—for some reason satisfactory to the friends of the slaves —was not brought to a hearing before the probate judge on the writ then issued. Proceedings under it were abandoned, and the sheriff had already (on Tuesday), before the return of the judge, notified the Federal marshal that he did not regard the fugitives as in his custody, though they might remain in jail; but as in that of the officers of the United States. “The slave-act commissioner, under whose warrant the seizure had been made, then declared his purpose to proceed to hear the case on the claim for surrender; but delays of various kinds were interposed, until on Friday, February 8th, the grand-jury of Hamilton County reported an indictment against the two Garners for the murder of the child Mary; and all four being still in jail, they were again taken into custody by the sheriff. The three children remained in jail also, but were regarded as being in the custody of the marshal. “Matters remained in this condition for some days—until the marshal applied to the United States district judge for a habeas corpus against the sheriff for the four fugitives, for the purpose of bringing them before him, to determine—not whether they were unlawfully deprived of their liberty—but whether the sheriff was entitled to their custody under the criminal process of the State, rather than the marshal under the slave-act commissioner's warrant. “It was a manifest abuse of the writ of habeas corpus, thus to convert it into a summary replevin; but the counsel for the sheriff—one of whom, in conversation with the judge, had heard him express the opinion that the prisoners could not be removed from custody under arrest for crime, by any proceeding under the fugitive slave act—made no opposition to the allowance of the writ. It was accordingly granted, and a hearing was had on Tuesday, the 26th of February, upon the return of the sheriff, that he held the four persons indicted under the process of the State, to abide their trial on the charge of murder. “After the argument before the district judge was closed, the judge allowed the slave-act commissioner to take the bench, and announce his decision in the proceeding commenced by his warrant. As was expected, he denied the fugitives the claims to freedom asserted in their behalf, and ordered that all should be delivered to their respective claimants. “The slave-act commissioner in the case was a weak, mercenary fellow; but his decision is written in judicial style, and bears the marks of a very different order of intellect from his. Who wrote it?