Kline, Henry H.

    Full name
    Henry H. Kline

    Henry H. Kline (Slaughter, 1991)

    On September 8, 1851, Gorsuch took an express train to Philadelphia, arriving ahead of his party.  On September 9, he secured four warrants authorizing capture authorizing capture of his slaves under the federal government’s Fugitive Slave Law adopted the previous year.  The fugitive-slave commissioner, Edward Ingraham, also instructed Henry H. Kline, the “notorious, lying slave-catching Deputy Marshal Kline” as he was known in the anti-slavery press, to head the Gorsuch posse… Initially, the slave-catching expedition traveled in four separate groups for the purpose of making their arrival less conspicuous than it might otherwise be…
        Right from the start there were problems, which boded ill for the enterprise.  Kline’s wagon broke down, and he was forced to walk his horses back and hire another.  The delay caused Kline to miss the prearranged rendezvous and, and he was left wandering about the Lancaster countryside conspicuously looking for the Gorsuches.  Kline’s cover story, that he was chasing horse thieves, was a transparent ruse… [because] knowledge of the warrants secured by Edward Gorsuch and was sent by the “Special Secret Committee” to warn Lancaster’s black community what the marshal and his posse were up to.  According to William Parker, Gorsuch had been had been noticed “in close converse with a certain member of the Philadelphia bar, who had lost the little reputation he ever had by continual dabbling in negro-catching as well as by association with and support of the notorious Henry H. Kline, a professional kidnapper of the basest stamp.”
    Thomas P. Slaughter, Bloody Dawn: The Christiana Riot and Racial Violence in the Antebellum North (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 52-53.

    Henry H. Kline (Harris, 1872)

    Some of the slaves of Edward Gorsuch, of Maryland, had made their escape to the eastern part of Lancaster county, and were living amongst others of their race in that section. On the 9th of September, 1851, Edward D. Ingraham, Commissioner of the United States, issued his warrant to Henry H. Kline, an officer appointed by him under the fugitive slave law of the 13th of September, 1850. The warrant so issued, commanded the officer to apprehend Josh Hammond and three other fugitive slaves, the property of Edward Gorsuch, and which slaves had escaped from Maryland, and were then in Lancaster county. The fact of the issuing of the said writ became known to a colored tavern-keeper in Philadelphia, by the name of Samuel Williams, who, with another colored man, preceded the official party to the neighborhood where the slaves resided, and where the arrests were to have been made, and gave notice that they were coming to execute the writs and reclaim the fugitive property.
    The capturing party consisted of Deputy Marshal Kline, Edward Gorsuch, the owner of the fugitive slaves, Dickinson, a son of Mr. Gorsuch, Dr. Thomas Pearce, a nephew, and Joshua Gorsuch, besides two neighbors of Edward Gorsuch, all of whom came to assist in making capture of the fugitives. They started from Philadelphia for the place where the fugitives were believed to be living, as soon as the warrant was issued, and taking different modes of conveyance. The party arrived at Christiana early on the morning of September 11th, and having secured the service of one acquainted with the locality, set out on hunt of the fugitives, and when they had neared a house kept by a negro named [William] Parker, about three miles from Christiana, they espied one of the slaves coming down the lane from Parker's house…Edward Gorsuch, the owner of the fugitive, and the Deputy Marshal, now entered the house, and demanded of the blacks that they surrender, which they refused, and began loading their guns, showing the utmost determination of resistance. Mr. Gorsuch told them if they would come down and surrender themselves, he would overlook the past; but the reply came from the negroes that "they could only be taken over their dead bodies." The Marshal read his warrant, and was proceeding to ascend the stairs when he was struck by a sharp instrument and compelled to desist from this attempt. He read his warrant the second and third time, and advised the negroes of the peril of resisting the authority of the government, and gave them fifteen minutes time to consider whether or not they would surrender…By this time the number of negroes that had arrived has been estimated at from 75 to 100, all armed and evincing the most determined spirit of resistance. To the demand of the Marshal, of Hanway, to assist in making the arrest he remarked, "I will have nothing to do with it."
    The negroes in the house, seeing their friends in such abundance, sallied out, and raising a shout, surrounded Edward Gorsuch and his companions, and fired upon them. Edward Gorsuch fell, and his son, Dickinson, running to his assistance, was also shot in the breast and lungs and fell to the ground. Dr. Pearce was likewise shot in several places, but succeeded in making his escape. Deputy Marshal Kline, Joshua Gorsuch and the other two individuals, Nelson and Hutchins, who accompanied the capturing party, all made their escape, speedily, as best they could.
    Alexander Harris, A Biographical History of Lancaster County (Lancaster, PA: E. Barr & Co., 1872), 149-151.
    How to Cite This Page: "Kline, Henry H.," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, https://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/6040.