Curtis and Riley keep a Slave-Jail !


Times have changed since Boston was the gaze and admiration of the world for her heroic resistance to tyranny.  Seventy years ago she was a little town, in comparison with her present dimensions, yet she would not submit to insult from the constituted authorities set over her when they were violating what she esteemed, ‘a higher law’, and she defied the whole physical force of the most powerful empire in the world, when it presumed to invade her rights.

The she could stand against the world;

_______________________’ now lies she there,

And none so poor as to do her reverence!’

Now she is insulted and spit upon, and takes it patiently, — not from a Christian spirit of endurance of injuries, but from sheer cowardice and lack of manly spirit.  Her very servants mock her, and she thanks them for it.  Her political tyrants cover her with ignominy, and she falls prostrate and blesses them for the benefaction.  If the action of the City Government and the general tone of the press of all parties are to be accepted as the expression of the state of mind of this city. never were the members of a corporate body of a more mean and abject than the citizens of Boston……….

What has been the history of the last fortnight?  A man was arrested as a fugitive slave.  He was detained for safe-keeping in a certain upper chamber, sometimes used as the U. S. Court Room.  Not in the Temple of Justice, as the sycophantic newspapers say, striving to darken counsel with great swelling words of vanity, but in a barracoon, a slave-jail, extemporized for the occasion……………….. When Mr. George T. Curtis (better known as the Little Expounder) sits there as Commissioner,  it is a Commissioner’s  Office.  When Deputy Marshal Riley makes it a place of detention for a fugitive slave, it is a Slave Jail and entitled to al his reverence and observance due to a construction for that purpose and no more.  ……….Well,  Mr. Slave-Jailer Riley not keeping his jail fast enough, some fifty, or at the outside, hundred colored men, open the door, without hurting anybody, and the Boston Shadrach walks quietly out of the jaws of the fiery furnace, which was just yawning for him, body and soul, and goes his way no more………………………..

(Liberator, Feb. 28, 1852, pg 2)