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To Hon. John P. Bigelow, Mayor of Boston,
Feb. 17, 1851.

From this and all other accounts is seems that the rescue was effected by a sudden, rapidly executed movement, and that no officer was very much to blame in the matter. Shadrach, when last heard from, was out of Boston, on his way to Canada. Her is probably safe. Marshal Devens was not in the city when the rescue was effected. He was on his way from Washington, and reached Boston on Monday evening. It is said that Mr. Debree claims the value of the alleged fugitive, $1000, of him, and that he will pay it, as he is liable under the law. Elizur Wright, one of the editors of the Commonwealth newspaper, was in the room when the negroes broke in. Charles G. Davis, a lawyer, left just before. Both were arrested on Tuesday, for aiding in the rescue. Wright's examination before B. F. Hallett, U. S. Commissioner, resulted in his being held to trial, under $2000 bonds, which he readily obtained. The penalty is $1000 fine or six months imprisonment. The examination of Davis commenced Thursday; the result is unknown. Joseph K. Hayes, the superintendent of Tremont Temple, was arrested on Friday morning, charged with aiding and abetting the rescue. He gave $3000 bail for his appearance for examination next Thursday. Two negroes have also been arrested, making six in the whole, up to Friday night.

The city authorities have taken measures to prevent another similar "outrage," and the President has issued a proclamation, which will be found in another column. The Journal of Commerce of Friday contained the following telegraphic dispatch. We can hardly believe it to be correct. The circumstances are not sufficient to justify such a step.

WASHINGTON, Feb. 20.- Mr Webster told two Senators last Monday, that unless prompt and vigorous measures were taken in relation to the Boston riot he would resign in 24 hours. Suitable measures have been taken. The President has ordered 8 companies of the U. S. Marines to Boston, and called for State troops.

The expected message of the President on the Boston slave riot was not sent in. A cabinet meeting was held on the subject. It is reported that the Charlestown Navy Yard is to be the depot for fugitives and rioters, and that marines are to guard them.

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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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. The act included provisions that fined a marshal $1000 if he did not carry out the arrest warrant. The marshal for Boston, who was not in town when Shadrach was arrested and subsequently rescued by a mob at the court house, was, never the less, required to pay this sum. This article also gives an account of four of the men who were arrested and mentions in passing that there were also two negroes who had been detained. A total of nine men were eventually charged, but all were acquitted.


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

publisher   Franklin Democrat
date   Feb 24, 1851
location   Greenfield, Massachusetts
width   3.0"
height   9.25"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
accession #   #L09.005

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See Also...

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

"The Boston Mob" article to the Mayor in Gazette and Courier newspaper

"Several Fathers" article re: Clay, Webster and Fillmore and Fugitive Slave Law in the Gazette and Courier newspaper

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