"The Christiana Tragedy," (Columbus) Ohio StateJournal, September 23, 1851, p. 3: 5.
Ohio State Journal
The Christiana Tragedy
Zak Rosenberg, Dickinson College
The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print. Spelling and typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.
The Christiana Tragedy.
From an individual just from that place, we learn that a slaveholder with his son and nephew, from Maryland, accompanied by U.S. officers of this city and Baltimore, went to Christiana after fugitive slaves. The blacks, having received notice of their coming, gathered, a considerable number of them, in the house which the slave-catching party were expected to visit. The door was fastened, and the blacks retired to the upper part of the house. When the slaveholder and his company approached, they were warned off. A parley took place, the slaveholder declared, as it is said and believe, "I will go to h--- or have my slaves." The door was broken in, a horn sounded out of one of the upper windows; after an interval, a company of blacks, armed, gathered on the spot, and the negroes in the house made a rush down stairs and crowded the whites out. Here the parley was resumed, the spokesman of the blacks telling the white men to go away; they were determined, he said, to die rather than go into slavery, or allow any one of their number to be taken. He declared moreover that the blacks would not fire, but if the whites fired they were dead men. Shortly, first the nephew, then the slaveowner and his son fired revolvers, wounding a number of the blacks, but not seriously- one man had his ear perforated by a ball. The clothes of others were pierced and torn, but as the blacks said afterwards "the Lord shook the balls out of their clothes." The fire of the whites was returned. The slave-owner fell dead, and his son very dangerously wounded. The whites then returned. One of the U.S. officers summoned the posse, but in vain. Some of the neighbors, Quakers and anti-slavery persons, went and took up the wounded man and carried him to one of their homes, where, while they told him in Quaker phrase, that "they had no unity with him in his acts," and abhorred the wicked business in which he had been engaged. Every attention was paid him. Medical aid instantly sent for. The effect of this treatment upon the young man, as our informant told us, may easily be imagined. He wept and vowed, if he lived, to correct the impression people had at his home about the Abolitionists. The Doctor pronounced his wounds mortal.
People soon gathered in large numbers at this scene of blood. The excitement was immense. Opinions and feelings conflicted, of course, but there was a strong feeling in behalf of the blacks. While the crowd were talking, and during the ferment, two blacks (brick-makers) passed. One of the crowd exclaimed "There goes two fellows who should be shot!" The black men paused and faced the crowd, and said calmly something to this effect: "Here we are, shoot us if you choose; we are a suffering people anyhow. God made us black: we can't help that; shoot as if you will." The revulsion was instantaneous and strong, and any many who had mattered a word against the blacks would have been knocked down on the spot.
It is not true that the blacks had been counseled to resist. They had been repeatedly advised not to fight, but to flee to Canada.
One informant, an aged and eminent member of the Society of Friends, does not profess to give the testimony of an eye-witness. He had seen the dead body of the slaveholder. He knew the people who took charge or the wounded man. He knew that the blacks had been counseled against resistance. The friends of the slave and the fugitive in that neighborhood are Quakers. Further than this the above account is the account of a resident in that vicinity, who gives us what is the most probable truth of the case, according to the statements of those in the neighborhood best acquainted with the circumstances. In a few days it is hoped that the truth will be ascertained with more certainty. Although by some questioned at first which fired first, the settled belief at the place is that the whites fired first, as stated above. Yours, for truth's sake, W.H.F.
In addition to facts contained in the above statement, we learn from another correspondent, that the warrant in the case was issued by Commissioner Ingram [Ingraham], of Philadelphia, and that the person deputed to execute it was John Egan, commonly known as Hoss Egan, formerly a notorious member of the gang of Killers, and now equally notorious as a slave-catcher under the new law.
There were twenty-five in the colored party, and fifteen whites. Several of the whites were wounded, one, a Baltimore officer, severely, by balls through both shoulders. There were eighteen shots fired by the slaveholder's party.-Tribune