Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Thwarted Slavecatchers

September 13, 1858--A group of the citizens of Oberlin, Ohio, stopped Kentucky slavecatchers from kidnapping John Price, a black man. Shakespeare Boynton, son of a wealthy landowner had lured Price with the promise of work. Oberlinians, black and white, from town and from the local College, pursued the kidnappers to nearby Wellington at word of his abduction.

Wadsworth’s Hotel in Wellington, Ohio (Oberlin College Archives)

The group, led by Charles Langston, James M. Fitch, bookseller and superintendent of the Oberlin Sunday School, and John Watson, a grocer, wanted to proceed nonviolently, but when the Kentuckians refused to surrender Price, the response was "we will have him anyhow."

They rushed the door guards of the Inn and theology student Richard Winsor took Price to safety, hidden for a time in the home of Oberlin College President James Fairchild, later helped across the Canadian border to freedom.

These were twenty of the thirty-seven citizens from Oberlin and Wellington who were charged with breaking the law by helping John Price escape from slave catchers in the fall of 1858.
The Oberlin-Wellington Rescue and subsequent trial caught the eye of the nation as escalating tensions over slavery raised the prospect of civil war

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