Back to top

The trial of Oberlin-Wellington rescuer Charles Langston continues in the federal court in Cleveland, Ohio

John Mercer Langston, detail
04/19/1859 to 05/09/1859

Charles Langston, a black man, was on trial in federal court in Cleveland, Ohio for his part in the rescue, in contravention of the Fugitive Slave Law, of escaped slave John Price from his federal marshal captors in Wellington, Ohio the previous September.  Price, also known as "Little John," was being returned to slavery in Kentucky but a group of students and faculty from Oberlin College, together with local citizens, had acted before he could be put on the train at Wellington.  Price was freed, hidden, and helped in his successful flight to Canada. A federal grand jury indicted 37 people for breaches of the Fugitive Slave Law, including Charles' brother John Mercer Langston, also a black graduate of Oberlin.  Only two men would eventually be tried.  Earlier, Simeon Bushnell, a white man, had faced a judge and jury in a trial that lasted ten days. Bushnell was convicted and later sentenced to sixty days in prison.  To save time, Judge Willson had the same jury try both cases, despite the pleas of Langston and his counsel.  After a fifteen day trial, Langston was also found guilty. (By John Osborne)

Source Citation: 

Jacob R. Shipherd, Ralph Plumb, Henry Everard Peck, History of the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue (Boston: John P. Jewett and Company, 1859), 94-165. 

Tabs