Aid to fleeing slaves, 1850
AID TO FLEEING SLAVES
While the leading statesmen, of both parties, in the Senate of the States, are exerting all powers of mind and energies of soul to settle the Slavery controversy, which is agitating the Union, from centre to circumference, and restore the blessed relations of amity between the North and the South, the demagogues, the low grovelling popularity hunters, in each of the antagonistic sections of that Union, are equally active in the unhallowed work of widening the breach. While such distinguished men as CLAY, WEBSTER, and others of the National Legislature, are plying the popular mind with the arguments of sober reason, and the sentiment of sound patriotism, couched in language of fervent eloquence, others of less talents, and surely of inferior love of country, are busily engaged in stirring up the passions and exciting the sectional prejudices of the people. Of this latter class, a few occupy seats in the Senate, and have here attempted to "break lances," upon the subject, referred to, with the intellectual giants and in corruptible patriots above named. Of these few, Senator CHASE of Ohio, is among the most, conspicuous. In the highly conservative body of which he is a member, he evinces an uncompromising, fanatical hostility to the institution of Slavery, as well as to the plainest Constitutional lights of those who are connected with it. It is his pleasure to discard the "olive branch of peace," and sow the accursed seeds of Discord and Disunion upon every soil.
With such a representative in the Senate, we are not greatly surprised to see the State of Ohio act out this evil spirit in her Legislature.— Whether the Senator caught this spirit from his constituents or they from him, we can’t determine; but the Legislature is about to carry it into practical effect in a form, of all others, the most obnoxious to the Southern people. It is about to pass a bill which is designed to facilitate the escape of fugitive slaves from their masters, and is essentially similar to the law of Pennsylvania in reference to these fugitives.— The bill has already passed the lower House, and will, it is said, also pass the Senate. It makes it a penal offence in any person to interfere for that purpose of affording any aid in the arrest, or detection, or surrender of fugitive slaves. Thus, while the patriots of the country are spending anxious days and sleepless nights, in a noble effort to compromise the difficulty, for the purpose of saving the Union and perpetuating its manifold blessings, Senator CHASE, not to mention other Senators and members of a like kidney, and the Ohio Legislature, are moving in an opposite direction.
In our view, the very worst aggression, in the whole catalogue of grievances complained of by the South, is to be found in the passage of laws, for the protection of fugitive slaves, by Northern Legislatures. It seems to us that these laws are expressly designed to violate the sacred rights and irritate the feelings of the Southern people, especially those of the border States, alienating them in interest and affection from their brethren of the North, and driving them, if possible, out of the Confederacy. There is nothing of an imaginary or theoretical character in this aggression—this wrong—this outrage. It is practical and tangible—it is seen, felt and lamented, if not resented, by the citizens of Maryland, Virginia and Kentucky. Even in this county, the people have suffered to the tune of many thousands of dollars, in consequence of the Pennsylvania law upon this Subject; and the life's blood of one of their number was shed in the streets of a town of that State, not a great while ago, because this law tied up the hands of the better class of citizens in a prohibitory penalty, with regard to the capture of runaway slaves.
Pennsylvania, however, is about to wipe out this stain upon her escutcheon, at least we have Information which leads us to hope that she will strike from her code of laws this odious enactment ; and if she does, it will go far towards appeasing the angry feelings of the South. Such an act will reach the hearts of the people of the border Slave States, and prepare them for any reasonable compromise of the vexed question, while the course of Senator CHASE and the Ohio Legislature, will but add fuel to the flame of resentment which is already burning in too many Southern breasts, and render an adjustment of the exciting controversy the more difficult.
Herald of Freedom
Slaves, Western Maryland
Western Maryland, 1800-1864