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THE BOSTON MOB.- Deputy Marshal Riley has made a statement in regard to the mob which rescued the fugitive slave in Boston. Marshal Devens was absent from the city at the time of the arrest and rescue. The requests of the Deputy Marshal to the Mayor and city authorities for assistance against the mob, were unheeded, and the individual officers appealed to, found reasons for refusing to assist in the affair, in the state law of 1843, which prohibits all officers of the commonwealth from engaging under severe penalties in the arrest, detention, or imprisonment of a fugitive slave. This law refusing the use of the State jails or prisons for U. S. purposes, obliged the Marsh to keep the prisoners in the Court House. The Deputy Marshal had sent word to Commander Downes, at the Charlestown Navy Yard to furnish provision for his imprisonment there, but he did not consider himself authorized to grant it. The sword of the Deputy Marshal was not wrenched from his hand, but was taken from the desk, where it lay, and thrown into the street. According to the provisions of the fugitive slave law, the Marshal is responsible for the loss of the fugitive, and if the claimant insists, he must pay him the value of the slave. The Mayor and city Marshal have published statements tending to exculpate themselves from all blame in the affair. The Mayor and city Marshal have also issued orders that in case of any more such breaches of the peace, that the Police force of the city be put in requisition to preserve the peace and the sanctity of the laws.

Elizur arrested for being engaged in the mob. Wright has been examined and bound over in the sum of $2,000 for trial before the U. States Court in March.

A special dispatch from Boston to the New York Tribune, states that is is a well ascertained fact that more warrants have been issued for fugitive slaves, and that the colored citizens are believed to be thoroughly organized and armed. The dispatch further states that a new military association is about to be formed there, to be called the "Liberty League." More than 100 of the most influential and able-bodied young men in the city are pledged to join it, for the purpose of opposing the fugitive slave law. Shadrich, the escaped fugitive, is now in Canada. He left the city by private conveyance, and on Sunday morning was received at the house of an abolitionist in Western Massachusetts, where he knelt and returned thanks for his deliverance, before he would partake of his breakfast. In the evening he attended an anti-slavery meeting in female attire, and remained unsuspected by the audience, while his arrest rescue were the subjects of discussion.

Two more persons were arrested on Friday.

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The Fugitive Slave Act was passed by congress on September 18, 1850, as part of a compromise allowing California to enter the Union as a free state and ending the slave trade in the District of Columbia. The act made the federal government responsible for tracking down and apprehending slaves who had escaped to the northern states. No statute of limitations applied, so that even slaves who had been free for many years could be returned. The passage and enforcement of this law enraged many people in the North--even those who were not ardent abolitionists. As noted in this article, an 1843 Massachusetts law prevented "all officers of the commonwealth from engaging under severe penalties in the arrest, detention, or imprisonment of a fugitive slave." Shadrach Minkins was the fugitive slave who had been rescued by a mob when he was arrested and then held at the courthouse on February 15, 1851. This article mentions that four men had been arrested for their part in Shadrach's escape, but a total of nine abolitionists were eventually indicted. All were ultimately acquitted.


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The Boston Mob article regarding fugitive Shadrich in Gazette and Courier newspaper

publisher   Greenfield Gazette and Courier
date   Feb 24, 1851
location   Greenfield, Massachusetts
height   10.0"
width   3.0"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
accession #   #L09.002

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See Also...

Excerpts from "Reminiscences of Fugitive-Slave Law Days in Boston"

"To Hon. John P. Bigelow, Mayor Boston"article re: Shadrach and Webster's response to riot in the Franklin Democrat newspaper

Article about wrongful arrest suits by rescuers of Shadrich from Gazette and Courier newspaper

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