Boston (MA) Herald, "The Fugitive Slave Case," October 10, 1855

    Source citation
    "The Fugitive Slave Case," Boston (MA) Herald, October 10, 1855, p. 4: 4.
    Newspaper: Publication
    Boston Herald
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    The Fugitive Slave Case
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    Newspaper: Column
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    Zak Rosenberg, Dickinson College
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    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 FUGITIVE SLAVE CASE. Our account of the rescue of a fugitive slave from a vessel in the harbor, published this morning, was substantially correct.-In some particulars it was erroneous, however, and we did not give the whole story, which is as follows:-

    Some days since, notice was received by officers in this city that a fugitive slave had escaped and was in a vessel bound to this port, and the officers were empowered to arrest him and remand him to his master. The measures taken by them somewhat prematurely, led some of the vigilance committee connected with the "underground railroad" to suspect that a slave was on board some vessel in our harbor, or soon a arrive here. Mr. Austin Bearse, Real Estate Agent, No. 6 Massachusetts Block, learning the circumstances of the case, obtained the assistance of another person, and the two commenced a search for the vessel which had the slave on board. They did not find him the vessel to which their attention had been directed, but were at length informed that a negro wearing the costume of a slave, was seen with a white man, who led him on board the brig Matilda, at South Boston.

    A writ of habeas corpus was procured and placed in the hands of Deputy Sheriff F. O. Irish, and a party consisting of the deputy sheriff, Mr. Bearse, Wendell Philips, and another gentleman, proceeded to the brig Matilda, Captain Eager, of Bangor. The captain was not on board, and the mate said that the slave was then on his way to Philadelphia, although he did not deny that he had been on board. A person was tying some meat which had just been taken from the harness crank in a piece of canvas, and Mr. Bearse suspected that this meat was intended for the sustenance of the slave on the return voyage. in a few minutes a negro was discovered on the deck of another vessel, the Gazelle, of Bangor, and Mr. Bearse went on board.

    On entered into conversation with him it was soon evident that he was the "certain man of color, a person whose unknown," mentioned in the writ of habeas corpus. He was easily persuaded to go on shore, and was placed in the carriage and conveyed to the Anti-Slavery office in Cornhill. The fugitive was soon invested in some new clothes, which may be termed his "freedom suit," and he was put into a railroad train for Canada.

    The fugitive states that Captain Eager was very kind to him after he was discovered on board the vessel, four days out. He also says that the mate, whose name is Doe, of Augusta, Me., induced him to secrete himself on board when the vessel left the South, and that he endeavored, by frightening him, to keep him on board after their arrival here, for the purpose of returning him to his master. He had left the Matilda, but the mate went after him and induced him to return, by representing that the officers would catch him.

    The process issued was a writ of habeas corpus under the old law and not the Personal Liberty bill. It will be seen that no use was made of the writ and it was returned to the Supreme Court with the following endorsement.

    "Suffolk, SS, Oct. 9th, 1855.

    By virtue of this writ, I have made diligent search on board the said brig Matilda, and found there no such person as the said writ described, and I found no person there under any manner of restraint, nor did I find the within named Capt. Eager.

    FRANCIS O. IRISH, Deputy Sheriff."

    The Gazette was ready to sail, and in a few minutes would have been on her way down the harbor. There was no one on board when Mr. Bearse took the slave from her, except the negro and a boy, the captain and nearly "all hands" being apparently afraid of laying themselves liable to an action for kidnapping.

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