cincinatti

James Wagoner Sold Into Slavery

This 1838  map by Joseph Gest is included to illustrate the proximity of where James Wagoner was kidnapped in Cincinnati, Ohio and sold in Newport, Kentucky   —  right across the river.

From the July 1860 issue of Douglass’ Monthly

Readers will recollect the case of Wagoner, a free colored man kidnapped from Cincinnati, taken over into Kentucky, where he and his two kidnappers were arrested and put in jail. The kidnappers were set at liberty and the free citizen of Ohio held as a slave. The particulars were copied from the Cincinnati Gazette.

DM-July-1860On Monday Wagoner was brought before the Mayor of Newport on a writ of habeas corpus, and it was proved that he was born in Ohio, of free parents, and that he had never been in Virginia. The statement of two persons from Virginia was taken that Wagoner was a fugitive slave, the Mayor so decided, and Wagoner was hurried by the Sheriff to the auction block, and sold to Dr. Foster of Newport for $100, and afterward the enslaved negro could be neither seen nor heard of.

The Cincinnati Gazette is quite aroused by so diabolical an outrage, which is but one of a series the people of that city are in a good part responsible for by their, frequent and meek submission to them. Official and unofficial kidnappers prey upon colored people there with about as much impunity as in Dahomy. Says the Gazette:

Here is a free man, a man born of parents legally freed and residing free in Ohio, kidnapped, kept in jail six months, and finally sold for jail fees while his kidnappers were allowed to escape. Of the disgraceful alacrity which certain individuals in Newport have manifested, we cannot trust out selves to speak. Not only has a grievous and irreparable wrong been done to Wagoner, but the honor of the great State of Kentucky, in whose name the wrong has been committed, has been sullied, and the dignity of the State of Ohio insulted. For an Ohioan has been made a slave by tricks which would disgrace a ‘shyster’ before that lowest of human tribunals, the Tombs Police Court in New York.

We trust our readers whose blood will be stirred by the recital of this wrong, will not forget that the Democratic party is the champion and defender of that system which this whole business is but the legitimate outgrowth. Their indignation should not vent itself in frothy declamation and violent invective, but should crystallize into efficient action.

Followup

Wagoner To Be Returned To Ohio

The Cincinnati Commercial of the 8th has the following in regard to the kidnapped and sold James Wagoner:

His purchaser, Dr. J. Q A. Foster, has given Geo. P. Webster, Esq. , Attorney in the case, an order upon the jailor of Lexington, to surrender Wagoner upon the payment of certain fees and costs. Mr. Webster leaves this morning for that place, and will probably return this evening with Wagoner, who will be placed in jail to await the next sitting of the Circuit Court in this city.

Source:  Douglass’ Monthly – July, 1860

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s African American Newspapers Collection. This enormous collection of African American newspapers contains a wealth of information about cultural life and history during the 1800s and is rich with first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day.

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