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The Slave Riot
As was to be expected the recent riot in our borough is alike the subject of earnest discussion, by both the anti-slavery papers of the North and the pro-slavery journals of the South. Of the latter, the Hagerstown papers are particularly violent in their denunciations of the act and of those whom they regard as guilty participators in it. The last Hagerstown Torch-Light comes to us with a long and bitter denunciation of the rioters and their alleged sympathizers, preceded by an indignant commentary upon what is calls, “the progress of our sister State of Pennsylvania, in her philanthropic efforts to emancipate those slaves over whom neither the laws of God nor of man have given her any control.” It is not surprising that the Torch-Light should hold the sentiments it utters concerning Northern interference with the “peculiar institution” which the south so tenaciously adheres to, nor that it should dwell with deep feeling on the outrage from which an esteemed citizen of Hagerstown has so severely suffered. We regret to see, however, its severe denunciation of a gentleman of high standing in this borough, whom, by what is at any rate a premature conclusion, it involves in all the guilt of exciting these infatuated Negroes to a riot. No one who is acquainted with that gentleman, or who is aware of his high character or standing here, will for a moment believe that he would be guilty, knowingly, of inciting to a riot, either by word or action on his part. That a charge of this character has been proferred against him, we are aware. But this charge has yet to be legally substantiated. Of what degree of proof there is to substantiate it, we are not aware. But until it is thus legally substantiated, that sense of justice which is always exercised towards the meanest criminal who is “believed innocent until he is proven guilty,” should certainly be exercised towards a gentleman whose high character throws a mass of doubt in the way of such a charge. The Torch-Light arrays several specific charges against Prof. McClintock, the truth or falsity of which cannot be known until they are closely [sifted?] by a legal investigation. Until that result is known, it is certainly a hard case that he should be prejudged guilty, and himself unjustly made the means of injuring the popular Collegiate institution with which he is connected. Certain it is that his friends do not admit the charges made by the Torch-Light to be true. And we are since informed that the Southern students of the college, after what they consider a due investigation of the facts, have adopted resolutions strongly expressive of their continued confidence in Prof. McClintock, and their belief that his conduct has been grossly misrepresented and exaggerated. In confirmation of this we find the following in the U.S. Gazette, of Thursday last:
“We saw with regret, a few days since, in a city journal; a statement, copied from a country print of another State, charging Professor McClintock, of Dickinson College, with having participated in the recent slave riot in Carlisle, (Pa.) Knowing and appreciating, as we do, the character of the Professor, we believed the statement altogether incorrect, and felt satisfied that, in time, this would appear. We are now most happy in being permitted to publish the following complete vindication of the estimable Professor, as furnished in a letter frem [sic] a distinguished citizen of Carlisle, to one of the trustees of the College, residing in this city;
“I presume you have seen the statement in the Ledger of to-day, respecting the riot here, implicating Prof. McClintock. May I ask the favor of you, as a Trustee, and a friend of the Professor, to have all such statements contradicted, on my authority? I have taken great pains to investigate the matter, and am satisfied that Prof. McC. has been most cruelly slandered.
“As to the students, they saw nothing of the affair, being engaged in their societies: and though they were much excited, when they heard the first rumor, yet upon ascertaining the facts in the case, they were satisfied of the Professor’s innocence, and now the warmest southerners are among his best friends.
“I ought to have mentioned that the Professor’s being present at all, was purely accidental.”
We give these quotations not as our own opinions, but the opinions of others who have been at some trouble to collect the facts in relation to Prof. McClintock’s present position. Our only reason for noticing the matter at this length, is to show the great propriety of the public suspending its judgment until the result of the legal investigation is known.
It must be recollected that Prof. McClintock was cognizant of but a small portion of the proceedings which led to this riot. The colored population hath been in a state of excitement in relation to it for several hours preceding the hearing of the habeas corpus, and of this Prof. McC. was entirely ignorant. He was not seen upon the ground until the hearing in the case had partially proceeded.
Since the above was written, we have received the following statement, which is signed by ninety of the Southern students of the college; comprising all from the South but four:
The undersigned, being Southern students of Dickinson College, observe in the Philadelphia Ledger, of the 8th inst., an account of the late riot in Carlisle, taken from the Hagerstown News, which demands a notice. It is there said-1st. That numbers of the students of Dickinson College, who were from the South, took an active part in aid of the owners of the slaves, 2d. That one of the students was slightly wounded, 3d. That Professor McClintock, of Dickinson College, was particularly conspicuous in, urging the negroes to the attack. 4th. That a meeting of the Southern students of the College had been called in reference to Professor McClintock’s behavior upon this occasion-and it is supposed they will demand his removal from the institution or withdraw themselves.
These assertions, we are satisfied, are all false; and whether made designedly for the purpose of injuring ourselves or Professor McClintock, they call for a denial.
At the time of the riot (Wednesday afternoon) the two Literary Societies, to which all the students belong, were in session, and as the excitement was very suddenly raised, and the College is at some distance from the court house, the students generally were not aware that any thing of the kind had occurred, until the whole affair was over. If there was any student at all on the ground, none certainly took any part in the matter, nor were any injured.
As to Prof. McClintock’s alleged participation in the transaction, we are not only satisfied from the most respectable testimony that the charge is untrue, but from his long
established character we believe him incapable of any such thing. The story did indeed come to us at [illegible], so perverted and exaggerated, that with the natural warmth of southerners, many of us were excited against him. But after several meetings, held for the purpose of considering the matter, in which not only the southern students, but all the students of the institution, as a body, participated, we have become convinced of the falsity of the accusation. The conduct of this gentleman towards the students has always been of such a nature as to call for our warmest commendation. So far are we from desiring his removal from this institution, that we thus publicly express our high regard for him as a professor, a gentleman and a christian. Moreover, we sincerely hope that he may long remain with us as an instructor, for we are fully conscious that his withdrawal from the institution would be an irreparable loss both to ourselves and the college.
We regret most unfeignedly this lamentable occurrence; still we consider that the truth of the case demands this action on our part, and we have endeavored to state the whole affair as impartially as possible.
Dickinson College, June 9th 1847.
This statement is signed by students from the following states, viz:
District of Columbia 3
North Carolina 1
South Carolina 1
Comprising all the Southern Students of the College except four.
But leaving the other charges to legal inquiry, there is one accusation made by the Torch-Light which we did not hesitate for an instant to pronounce totally devoid of truth. The charge is thus stated.
“Approaching the spot where Mr. Kennedy lay insensible, a bystander remarked to Mr. McClintock: “There is some of your work” – to which Mr. McClintock replied, “it serves him right--perfectly right!”
However respectable may be the informant of the Torch-Light, he has here been drawn into an infamous mis-statement. Mr. McClintock is incapable of making such a brutal expression over such a misfortune as Mr. Kennedy’s. We doubt exceedingly whether such a remark as this was made by any person in Carlisle. We have heard something like it attributed to another gentleman, who indignantly denies it as a slander, but we have not yet heard it imputed to Mr. McClintock.-We ourself stood by Mr. Kennedy’s side a considerable length of time after his fall and we heard no remarks but those of those of the most heart-warm sorrow for his deplorable misfortune. In this feeling we know Mr. McClintock deeply shares. We trust our friend of the Torch Light will in justice withdraw this worst of all his charges, and disabuse the public mind of his own community of such a vile impression of Mr. McClintock’s personal character.