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“Meanwhile another writ of habeas corpus had been issued by Judge Burgoyne, of the Probate Court, for the three children; on which a hearing was had before him on the same day—Tuesday, February 26th–on which the slave-act commissioner delivered his decision as just stated. After many arguments on the constitutionality of the slave act, and particularly that part of it which makes United States commissioners judges in cases arising under it, he deferred his judgment until Saturday following, having made a special order that the children should not be removed from the jurisdiction of the court until final decision. “On Thursday morning, however, the United States district judge announced his decision in the case which had been argued before him. He declared—to the surprise of every one; unless some had foreknowledge of his conclusions—that the custody of the sheriff as against the claims of the marshal under the fugitive slave act, was unlawful; and ordered the former to deliver the indicted prisoners to the latter. “With this order the marshal at once proceeded to the jail, where the sheriff delivered to him not only the four indicted prisoners, but also the three children, notwithstanding the order of the probate judge as to the latter. All the fugitives were at once hurried into an omnibus, which was surrounded by a number of special deputy marshals—(there were five hundred of these appointed, the purchase of whose claims for fees, it was said, offered a good chance for speculation to certain Federal officers!)—and immediately driven to the river, and taken across into Kentucky. Hardly an hour elapsed after the United States district judge had made his order before the fugitives were lodged in a Kentucky jail. “I had observed the proceedings in these cases with great interest and a deep solicitude for the fate of the slaves. All that I could do in their behalf, under the circumstances then existing, was done. They were represented by able counsel, and the power of the State was pledged to maintain the process of the State. No one imagined that any judge could be found who would undertake to transfer by a proceeding in habeas corpus, prisoners indicted under a State law to Federal custody under the fugitive slave act. Nor did any one imagine that persons held under an order of a State court, during the pendency of a writ of habeas corpus, would be carried off beyond the jurisdiction and in violation of that order. But such a judge was found, and such an abduction was perpetrated. “I could not prevent this any more than I could prevent the commission of other outrages. I could not foresee such transactions, and if I could have foreseen I had no more power to prevent them than any private citizen had; except in the single contingency that the sheriff might need the power of the State to enforce the execution of process in his hands. Except in that contingency, I had no power other than that the whole weight of which was given to the side of the fugitives in every form of counsel, encouragement and support, to those engaged in their defense. I was not in Cincinnati during the proceedings. The Legislature was in
THE MARGARET GARNER CASE. 175
session. I had only a fortnight before the capture of the fugitives entered into office, wholly without experience in its duties, and my constant presence was required at Columbus. Had I been in Cincinnati, I do not see that I should have been likely to add any thing to the zeal or ability with which the cause of the fugitives was defended, or to suggest any thing which did not occur to their counsel. And certainly, if they on the spot could devise no way to prevent the surrender and carrying off of the fugitives under the unforeseen circumstances of that day, it is not wonderful that I could devise none while a hundred and twenty miles distant, and wholly uninformed of the outrage that was being enacted. “Some abolitionists have blamed me because I did not in some way prevent the carrying back into slavery of Margaret Garner. They saw the tragic circumstances of her seizure, and felt peculiar sympathy for her, but they did not see the extraordinary efforts made to save her. That those efforts were unsuccessful, all humane persons must lament; but how more effort could be made, or with what more likelihood of success, no one has yet pointed out. And no one conversant with the circumstances and concerned in the efforts made in her behalf, has found fault with what I did. All those approved my action and were grateful for my support. It must be remembered, too, that Margaret was but one of seven fugitives, each of whom was entitled if not to equal sympathy, certainly to equal rights and equal efforts for their protection. None of these were forgotten or neglected. “After they were surrendered, the prosecuting attorney sent me copies of the indictment and proceedings, and suggested that although the indicted prisoners could hardly be considered as having fled from justice in Ohio, yet it might be proper to regard them as having constructively done so, and to issue a requisition for their delivery to an agent of the State, to be brought back within its jurisdiction. I felt keenly the humiliation of being reduced to this mode of asserting the right of the State to the custody of persons indicted under her laws. It was obvious that when returned to the custody of the sheriff, they would be in precisely the same relations as when they were taken from his custody by the order of the United States district judge, and there would be no legal obstacle, which did not exist to the original order, to a repetition of it. “A friend, however, volunteered—if I would issue a requisition—to go with the agent and purchase the freedom of the three children, and it seemed probable, if the others could be brought back, that an arrangement might be made also with their claimants for the relinquishment of their claims upon them. So I overcame my reluctance to adopt the theory of constructive escape, and issued the requisition. “My agent, and the gentleman who had volunteered to accompany him, immediately departed on their mission and obtained a warrant of extradition from the Governor of Kentucky, who doubtless gladly embraced the opportunity of making a precedent of constructive escape, which he hoped would be useful to claimants of slaves found in Ohio, but not actual fugitives from a slave State. “With the warrant thus obtained, the agent proceeded to Louisville, but the slave-masters continued to evade him, and the slaves were sent South notwithstanding our efforts to recover them. “Hearing subsequently that Margaret had been brought back to Covington, I wrote to the prosecuting attorney to go over and demand her. He went, and was told that she had been there, but had again been sent to the South. It is doubtful whether she was in fact ever brought back there. “Nothing has been heard of the Garner family since. Perhaps the rebellion has restored the liberty of which the cause of the rebellion caused the loss, and we may yet hear of these slaves as among those rejoicing in the new-found freedom which God's providence has given to so many.”
C BIAPTER XXI.
THE CONSERVATISM of MR. CHASE—“THE GREENE county SLAVEHUNT’—ACTION of THE U. S. DISTRICT JUDGE FoR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO-ACTION OF THE STATE COURTS —SLAVE-SHOOTING ON KANE's CREEK–PUBLIC MEETINGs IN OHIO-CONFLICT OF FEDERAL AND STATE PROCESS—THE GREAT RAILWAY CELEBRATION OF 1857—REMARKS OF GOVERNOR CHASE AT BALTIMORE-COLONEL CARRINGTON's MISSION AND INTERVIEW WITH SECRETARY OF STATE CASS-INTERVIEW OF GOVERNOR CHASE WITH MR. BUCHANAN AND GENERAL, CASS.
HE Margaret Garner case was not the only slave-hunt which took place in Ohio during Mr. Chase's administration. There were several such; two or three of them being of importance in their possible consequences. Not long before the close of his first term, an attempt to capture a fugitive agitated the western part of the State, and at one time threatened a serious collision with the Federal authority. But Mr. Chase, while upholding with a strong hand the independence and dignity of Ohio, never lost sight of the relations which so central and powerful a State ought to sustain toward the General Government. His administration was not aggressive, therefore, but was marked by the natural and wise conservatism of his character. On the 15th day of May, 1857, the Deputy U. S. Marshal for Southern Ohio, with five citizens of Kentucky, holding a warrant issued by a United States commissioner at Cincinnati, reached Mechanicsburg, Ohio, and went thence nearly a mile into the country to the house of Russell Hyde, in pursuit of a fugitive slave, who had lived there nearly six months, and was daily expecting his family to join him in a land of freedom. Anderson, the fugitive, took refuge in a loft; was fired upon by one of the party, and returned the fire. The pursuers, who had by this time aroused the neighbors, retired from the field and returned to Cincinnati. On the 27th the party returned, reënforced; but Anderson meantime had fled and was safe in Canada. Arrests were made, however, of Russell Hyde and three other citizens, charged with aiding and abetting the escape of the fugitive. Expecting, as they were advised, that they would be examined at Urbana, the county-seat, no resistance was made; but instead of Urbana the intended destination was Cincinnati. The proper legal papers were prepared, upon which a writ of habeas corpus was obtained with a view to determine the legitimacy of the arrest, but before the sheriff was able to serve the writ, the marshal's posse had crossed the county line, into Clark County, and was out of his bailiwick. A second writ issued out of the Clark County court, but the marshal's party, when overtaken, refused to obey the writ, and before adequate force could be obtained to enforce the process, the boundary-line was also crossed. A third writ was obtained in Greene County, and was placed in the hands of a sufficient posse; and was enforced after an exchange of shots between the parties. The evidence was conflicting as to which party first fired, and touching the conduct of the marshal's assistants; but in this connection these facts are not material. On the 29th of May the U. S. District Judge for the Southern District of Ohio, issued a writ of habeas corpus directing the sheriff of Clark County to bring the deputy-marshals arrested by him and named in the writ, before that court, and show cause for their detention. Meanwhile, several of them had been held to bail by State-Justice Christie, of Clark County, on a charge of assault with intent to kill, and for want of securities they had been placed in confinement. This writ was executed and the parties were brought into court. The cause was argued on the 25th of June; Attorney-General Christopher P. Wolcott, by direction of Governor Chase, appearing for the State. Mr. Wol