Flight of Shadrach

February 21, 1851

There differing  accounts of the arrest, rescue, and flight of Shadrach.  One is from the editor, one “chiefly from the ‘Commonwealth'”, and one a copy of the official deposition of the Deputy Marshall Patrick Riley, the arresting officer.  They are essentially the same, with differing views of Commissioner George Curtis, (Garrison says Curtis is “the willing and pliant tool of the Slave Power, which is dragging this nation down to irretrievable ruin,”),  and different numbers are given of the colored citizens who accompanied Shadrach from the Court, and some differences about the conduct of the rescue.   There is agreement that a delay in the trial had been granted, from the day of arrest, Saturday, until Tuesday, allowing defendants of Shadrach time for preparing a defense.  Defendants of Shadrach are listed as S.E. Sewall, Ellis Gray Loring, Charles List, Richard H. Dana, Robert H. Morris.

Garrison comments:  “Thank God, Shadrach is free -and not only free, but safe! Under the banner of England, on the Canadian soil, he is now standing erect, redeemed and disenthralled, bidding a proud defiance to President Fillmore and his cabinet, though backed by the army and navy of the United States!  Promulgate thy bloody edicts, O Nero who occupiest the Presidential Chair; they shall be laughed to scorn, and trampled in the dust!…”

Garrison’s account indicates that “a  few of the officers may have been jostled, but no one was injured, no blow appears to have been given by the invading forces, no scar was made, no blood was drawn. It was as peaceful a rescue as was ever made in any case of physical interference.”  
Deputy Marshal Riley’s account indicates that there was a struggle at the door, and “that the crowd of negroes finally succeeded in forcing the door wide open, rushed in in great numbers, overpowering all the officers, surrounded the negro, and he was finally forced by them through the doors, down the stairs, and out of the side door of the court house, and thence through the streets to the section where most of the negroes of the city reside, — that officers were dispatched in pursuit, but have not succeeded in finding his present abode.”

Deputy Marshall Riley’s deposition also includes: “That from the time of the first notice to the Mayor and City Marshal, immediately after the arrest, as heretofore stated, to the giving of this deposition, neither the Mayor nor the City Marshall has appeared, nor has a single officer under their direction appeared or aided in attempting to disperse the mob, or in keeping the peace; and that, in my opinion, it was the predetermined purpose of both not to do their duty in keeping the peace in an about their Court House; for the City Marshal , when requested by Henry S. Hallet, Esq., to disperse a similar mob, which had collected about the office of his father, a United States Commissioner, during the excitement of the ‘Crafts’ case, said that he had orders not to meddle in the matter, as  I am informed by said Hallett, and that the City Marshal gave a similar answer to Watson Freeman, Esq., who asked him about the same time, why he did not disperse the mob, as I am informed by the said Freeman.”

The item from the Commonwealth includes a moment when Riley says to the crowd, “Gentlemen, we are ready to sell, if you have any propositions to make. I will give twenty-five dollars out of my own pocket to buy the man.’  We remarked, that if there was any selling, we hoped it would be of the fellows who were so ready as he to be sold to the kidnappers.  He appeared offended at this remark, and said he only did what he was obliged to do though he thought no law could oblige a man to assist in such atrocious villany.”  After this the account says that the Deputy Marshall ordered the crowd from the room.. The crowd then proceeded with the rescue.

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