Old slave block in St. Louis Hotel, New Orleans, La.

An Interesting Slave Case

A few months ago a slave, named ______ Brown, belonging to a Mr. Somerville of Maryland, was murdered by his master. Some time after, the master himself was murdered, and a brother of the murdered slave was taken up and tried for the offense. Not the smallest evidence could be made out against him, and he was acquitted.

Acquittal of a colored man in such a region of the world must be held as a most convincing proof of his innocence. But the relatives of the deceased sold Brown into the desolating bondage of the South. He made his escape from New Orleans and reached Philadelphia, where he expected to live in safety. But the man-stealer was on his track. Brown had a wife and seven children in Maryland, whom he was desirous of rescuing from bondage. He had assumed the name of Russell, but a correspondence was commenced from Philadelphia in his real name; the letter reached the slave-owners, and they determined to be revenged still farther.

The thieves of Maryland had no longer any control over his body as property, for they had made it over to the thieves of New Orleans; but two of them appeared at Philadelphia, claiming Brown as a murderer!! This is a favorite and hackneyed mode of seizing a victim. The applicants knew well that they had no right to claim the persecuted man as a murderer, for he had been tried and acquitted and could not be tried again. But, if they had him once in their possession, they could easily do privately what they could not do judicially, and, at least, they could punish him severely for running away, and restore him to chains and bondage.

Two bloodhounds appeared at the magistrate’s office in Philadelphia, claiming their victim. He was clapped into prison, but the warrant was informal, and on that ground he was released. Seizing the favorable moment, before the informality could be remedied, Brown made track for Canada, passing through New York. Rev. Mr. Young of that city, kindly agreed to accompany the persecuted man to Canada.

Without the loss of a moment, they proceeded to Montreal, and laid the case before Lord Elgin, claiming that protection which it is the glory of the British law to give to the innocent. Proofs of the trial and acquittal, which, with other particulars, had been published in pamphlet form, were laid before the Governor-General, who gave his unqualified assurance that the hunted man would not be surrendered to his persecutors.

The appeal was not too soon. Next day the two bloodseekers presented themselves before the Governor-General, demanding the surrender of Brown, and, it is almost unnecessary to say, they met with a pointed refusal. And now, this injured man, with his wife and seven children, who had also escaped, are in Canada, safe from the hands of the man-stealer. Some magistrate, from ignorance of the facts, may give him up on a charge of murder, although this is not likely. However, to prevent it, we have to request our contemporaries, as an act of justice and humanity, to hand around this note of warning.

Let it never be said that there is a single magistrate in the length and breadth of British North America so ignorant or so indifferent as to surrender a fellow man into the hands of the relentless slaveholder. – Toronto Banner.

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.

Source: The North Star, September 7, 1849
Image: Old slave block in St. Louis Hotel, New Orleans, La.

All images included in blog posts are from either Accessible Archives collections or out of copyright public sources unless otherwise noted. Common sources include the Library of Congress, The Flickr Commons, Wikimedia Commons, and other public archives.

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