A Political Show Trial in the Northern District: The Oberlin-Wellington Fugitive Slave Case
Albany Law School - Government Law Center
Justice and Legal Change on the Shores of Lake Erie: A History of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Paul Finkelman and Roberta Sue Alexander, eds., Ohio University Press, 2012
Albany Law School Research Paper No. 19 for 2012-2013
This chapter appears in the recently published Justice and Legal Change on the Shores of Lake Erie: A History of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio (ed. Paul Finkelman and Roberta Sue Alexander) (Ohio Univ. Press, 2012). This chapter is the first scholarly work to examine the legal history of the indictments and trials of abolitionists after the famous Oberlin-Wellington Fugitive Slave Rescue. The article argues that Judge Hiram Willson, the first judge in the new Northern District of Ohio was biased in favor of the prosecution and openly hostile and unfair to the defendants. At the same time, the chapter argues that the abolitionist defendants happily politicized the trials and remained in jail during the trials when they could have easily arranged to be released without actually positing bail. The chapter concludes that in the end the trials were an enormous embarrassment to the Buchanan administration and were mostly helpful to antislavery Republicans.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 23
Date posted: November 7, 2012 ; Last revised: December 10, 2012