Thursday, November 18, 2010

Abduction of Ohio Citizens

Marietta Intelligencer, July 24, 1845

The gentleman who kindly consented to fill the editor’s chair during his absence, last week, made no announcement of the late outrage committed upon 3 citizens of this county, by a body of Virginians, for the reason, we suppose, that the reports of the matter were so contradictory that the truth could not be sell ascertained.

Whatever dispute there may be as to minor details of the offence, the following particulars are doubtless correct:

On the night of the 9th inst. Mr. Craton Loraine, Mr. Peter M. Garner, and Mr. Mordecai Thomas, all citizens of Decatur, in this county, were seized on the Ohio Shore, by a body of men from Virginia, taken by force, and without process of law, to Parkersburg, where they were committed to jail. On the 18th inst. They were examined before a called County Court, and committed for trial before the Supreme Court to be held in September next – bail for their appearance having been refused. The facts that led to the abduction of these men are these:

On the evening of the 9th, six negroes, claimed as slaves of Jno. H. Harwood, living twelve miles below Parkersburg, made their escape into Ohio. Mr. H. having knowledge of their purpose, secured the services of some of his neighbors, who came over in advance of the negroes, and concealed themselves near the bank. Soon after midnight the negroes came over, and were met on the bank by Loraine, Garner, Thomas, and four others, who were aiding them in the removal of their baggage from the canoe, when the three above named were seized, as above stated, and taken to Virginia, together with five of the negroes.

With the defence of these captured men, or of those who may aid slaves when escaping, we have nothing to do. If offences are committed against the laws of Virginia, within her jurisdiction, let the offenders be legally demanded of the Governor of Ohio, the criminals removed by legal process, and the penalty of the violated law inflicted.

The claim that Virginia sets up is, that citizens of Ohio, living here, and who have never set foot on Virginia soil, are amenable to her laws! That is bad enough – too bad – so bad that a Kentucky jury upon their oaths would not, and we trust a Virginia jury will not, sanction it. But in this case, Ohio citizens are seized upon their own soil, and without process of law removed by people of another State from our territory by violence, under a pretence that they have committed a crime – where? Not in Virginia, but in their own State, to whose laws alone they are amenable, and where alone they can have a constitutional trial – viz: by a jury in the county where the act was done.

And will the citizens of Ohio, will the authorities of the State, quietly submit to such indignities? They will merit the scorn of all MEN if they do. If our laws will permit a foreign mob to seize freemen, citizens of Ohio, and violently carry them as felons into a foreign jurisdiction, let it not henceforth be said that they are made for our protection.

“Ah, but these were fanatics, meddling with what was none of their business – incendiaries, negro stealers!” Tell us not that; for if they were, and we care not what beside, the right to kidnap them confers the right to kidnap the best citizens in the State, and whoever would himself be safe must repel the principle as unjust, unholy, and full of wrong.

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