Daniel Drayton.

Personal Memoir of Daniel Drayton For Four Years and Four Months a Prisoner (For Charity's Sake) in Washington Jail online

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right. You -

_One of the Committee (interrupting him_). - I know it is
a hardship; but look at the consequences of your
refusal. We do not come here to express our individual
opinions. I would myself leave the District to-morrow,
if in your place. We now ask of you, Shall this be done?
We beg you will consider this matter in the light in
which we view it.

_Dr. Bailey_. - I am one man against many. But I cannot
sacrifice any right that I possess. Those who have sent
you here may do as they think proper.

_One of the Committee_. - The whole community is against
you. They say here is an evil that threatens them, and
they ask you to remove that evil. You say "No!" and of
course on your head be all the consequences.

_Dr. Bailey_. - Let me remind you that we have been
recently engaged in public rejoicings. For what have we
rejoiced? Because the people in another land have
arisen and triumphed over the despot, who had
done - what? He did not demolish presses, but he
imprisoned editors. In other words, he enslaved the
press. Will you then present to America and the world -

_One of the Committee (interrupting him_). - If we could
stop this movement, of the people, we would do it. But
you make us unable to do so. We cannot tell how far it
will go. After your press is pulled down, we do not know
where they will go next. It is your duty, in such a
case, to sacrifice your constitutional rights.

_Dr. Bailey_. - I presume, when they shall have
accomplished their object -

_Mr. Radcliff (interrupting)._ - We advise you to be out
of the way! The people think that your press endangers
their property and their lives; and they have appointed
us to tell you so, and ask you to remove it to-morrow.
If you say that you will do so, they will retire
satisfied. If you refuse, they say they will tear it
down. Here is Mr. Boyle, a gentleman of property, and
one of our oldest residents. You see that we are united.
If you hold out and occupy your position, the men, women
and children of the District will universally rise up
against you.

_Dr. Bailey (addressing himself to his father, a
venerable man of more than eighty years of age, who
approached the doorway and commenced remonstrating with
the committee)_. - You do not understand the matter,
father; these gentlemen are a committee appointed by a
meeting assembled in front of the Patent Office. You
need not address remonstrances to them. Gentlemen, you
appreciate my position. I cannot surrender my rights.
Were I to die for it, I cannot surrender my rights! Tell
those who sent you hither that my press and my house are
undefended - they must do as they see proper. I maintain
my rights, and make no resistance!

The committee then retired, and Dr. Bailey reëntered his
dwelling. Meanwhile, the shouts of the mob, as they
received the reports of the committee, were reëchoed
along the streets. A fierce yell greeted the
reäppearance of Radcliff in front of the Patent Office.
He announced the result of the interview with the editor
of the _Era_. Shouts, imprecations, blasphemy, burst
from the crowd. "Down with the _Era_!" "Now for it!"
"Gut the office!" were the exclamations heard on all
sides, and the mob rushed tumultuously to

But a body of the city police had been stationed to guard the building,
and the mob finally contented themselves with passing a resolution to
pull it down the next day at ten o'clock, if the press was not meanwhile

That same afternoon, we three prisoners had been taken before three
justices, who held a court within the jail for our examination. Mr. Hall
appeared as our counsel. The examination was continued till the next
day, when we were, all three of us, recommitted to jail, on a charge of
stealing slaves, our bail being fixed at a thousand dollars for each
slave, or seventy-six thousand dollars for each of us.

Meanwhile, both houses of Congress became the scenes of very warm
debates, growing out of circumstances connected with our case. In the
Senate, Mr. Hale, agreeably to the notice he had given, asked leave to
introduce a bill for the protection of property in the District of
Columbia against the violence of mobs. This bill, as was stated in the
debate, was copied, almost word for word, from a law in force in the
State of Maryland (and many other states have - and all ought to have - a
similar law), making the cities and towns liable for any property which
might be destroyed in them by mob violence. In the House the subject
came up on a question of privilege, raised by Mr. Palfrey, of
Massachusetts, who offered a resolution for the appointment of a select
committee to inquire into the currently-reported facts that a lawless
mob had assembled during the two previous nights, setting at defiance
the constituted authorities of the United States, and menacing members
of Congress and other persons. In both those bodies the debate was very
warm, as any one interested in it will find, by reading it in the
columns of the _Congressional Globe_.

It was upon this occasion, during the debate in the Senate, that Mr.
Foote, then a senator from Mississippi, and now governor of that state,
whose speech on the French revolution has been already quoted,
threatened to join in lynching Mr. Hale, if he ever set foot in
Mississippi, whither he invited him to come for that purpose. This part
of the debate was so peculiar and so characteristic, showing so well the
spirit with which the District of Columbia was then blazing against me,
that I cannot help giving the following extract from Mr. Foote's speech,
as contained in the official report:

"All must see that the course of the senator from New
Hampshire is calculated to embroil the confederacy - to
put in peril our free institutions - to jeopardize that
Union which our forefathers established, and which every
pure patriot throughout the country desires shall be
perpetuated. Can any man be a patriot who pursues such a
course? Is he an enlightened friend of freedom, or even
a judicious friend of those with whom he affects to
sympathize, who adopts such a course? Who does not know
that such men are, practically, the worst enemies of the
slaves? I do not beseech the gentleman to stop; but, if
he perseveres, he will awaken indignation everywhere,
and it cannot be that enlightened men, who
conscientiously belong to the faction at the north of
which he is understood to be the head, can sanction or
approve everything that he may do, under the influence
of excitement, in this body. I will close by saying
that, if he really wishes glory, and to be regarded as
the great liberator of the blacks, - if he wishes to be
particularly distinguished in this cause of
emancipation, as it is called, - let him, instead of
remaining here in the Senate of the United States, or
instead of secreting himself in some dark corner of New
Hampshire, where he may possibly escape the just
indignation of good men throughout this republic, - let
him visit the good State of Mississippi, in which I have
the honor to reside, and no doubt he will be received
with such shouts of joy as have rarely marked the
reception of any individual in this day and generation.
I invite him there, and will tell him, beforehand, in
all honesty, that he could not go ten miles into the
interior before he would grace one of the tallest trees
in the forest, with a rope around his neck, with the
approbation of every virtuous and patriotic citizen; and
that, if necessary, I should myself assist in the

Mr. Hale's reply was equally characteristic:

"The honorable Senator invites me to visit the State of
Mississippi, and kindly informs me that he would be one
of those who would act the assassin, and put an end to
my career. He would aid in bringing me to public
execution, - no, death by a mob! Well, in return for his
hospitable invitation, I can only express the desire
that he would penetrate into some of the dark corners of
New Hampshire; and, if he do, I am much mistaken if he
would not find that the people in that benighted region
would be very happy to listen to his arguments, and
engage in an intellectual conflict with him, in which
the truth might be elicited. I think, however, that the
announcement which the honorable Senator has made on
this floor of the fate which awaits so humble an
individual as myself in the State of Mississippi must
convince every one of the propriety of the high eulogium
which he pronounced upon her, the other day, when he
spoke of the high position which she occupied among the
states of this confederacy. - But enough of this personal

[Footnote A: The following paragraph, which has
recently been going the rounds of the newspapers,
will serve to show the sort of manners which
prevail in the state so fitly represented by Mr.
Foote, and how these southern ruffians experience
in their own families the natural effect of the
blood-thirsty sentiments which they so freely avow:

"THE DEATH OF MR. CARNEAL. - The Vicksburg
_Sentinel_, of the 13th ult., gives the following
account of the shooting of Mr. Thomas Carneal,
son-in-law of Governor Foote:

"We have abstained thus long from giving any notice
of the sad affair which resulted in the death of
Mr. Thomas Carneal, the son-in-law of the governor
of our state, that we might get the particulars. It
seems that the steamer E.C. Watkins, with Mr.
Carneal as a passenger, landed at or near the
plantation of Judge James, in Washington county.
Mr. Carneal had heard that the judge was an
extremely brutal man to his slaves, and was
likewise excited with liquor; and, upon the judge
inviting him and others to take a drink with him,
Carneal replied that he would not drink with a man
who abused his negroes; this the judge resented as
an insult, and high words ensued.

"The company took their drink, however, all but Mr.
Carneal, who went out upon the bow of the boat, and
took a seat, where he was sought by Judge James,
who desired satisfaction for the insult. Carneal
refused to make any, and asked the old gentleman if
any of his sons would resent the insult if he was
to slap him in the mouth; to which the judge
replied that he would do it himself, if his sons
would not; whereupon Mr. Carneal struck him in the
month with the back of his hand. The judge resented
it by striking him across the head with a cane,
which stunned Mr. Carneal very much, causing the
blood to run freely from the wound. As soon as
Carneal recovered from the wound, he drew a
bowie-knife, and attacked the judge with it,
inflicting several wounds upon his person, some of
which were thought to be mortal.

"Some gentlemen, in endeavoring to separate the
combatants, were wounded by Carneal. When Judge
James arrived at his house, bleeding, and in a
dying state, as was thought, his son seized a
double-barrelled gun, loaded it heavily with large
shot, galloped to where the boat was, hitched his
horse, and deliberately raised his gun to shoot
Carneal, who was sitting upon a cotton-bale. Mr.
James was warned not to fire, as Carneal was
unarmed, and he might kill some innocent person. He
took his gun from his shoulder, raised it again,
and fired both barrels in succession, killing
Carneal instantly.

"It is a sad affair, and Carneal leaves, besides
numerous friends, a most interesting and
accomplished widow, to bewail his tragical end."]

Such was the savage character of the debate, that even Mr. Calhoun, who
was not generally discourteous, finding himself rather hard pressed by
some of Mr. Hale's arguments, excused himself from an answer, on the
ground that Mr. Hale was a maniac! The slave-holders set upon Mr. Hale
with all their force; but, though they succeeded in voting down his
bill, it was generally agreed, and anybody may see by the report, that
he had altogether the best of the argument. Mr. Palfrey's resolution was
also lost; but the boldness with which Giddings and others avowed their
opinions, and the freedom of speech which they used on the subject of
slavery, afforded abundant proof that the gagging system which had
prevailed so long in Congress had come at last to an end.

These movements, though the propositions of Messrs. Hale and Palfrey
were voted down, were not without their effect. The Common Council of
Washington appointed an acting mayor, in place of the regular mayor, who
was sick. President Polk sent an intimation to the clerks of the
departments, some of whom had been active in the mobs, that they had
better mind their own business and stay at home. Something was said
about marines from the Navy-Yard; and from that time the riotous spirit
began to subside.

Meanwhile, the unfortunate people who had attempted to escape in the
Pearl had to pay the penalty of their love of freedom. A large number of
them, as they were taken out of jail by the persons who claimed to be
their owners, were handed over to the slave-traders. The following
account of the departure of a portion of these victims for the southern
market was given in a letter which appeared at the time in several
northern newspapers:

"_Washington, April_ 22, 1848.

"Last evening, as I was passing the railroad dépôt, I
saw a large number of colored people gathered round one
of the cars, and, from manifestations of grief among
some of them, I was induced to draw near and ascertain
the cause of it. I found in the car towards which they
were so eagerly gazing about fifty colored people, some
of whom were nearly as white as myself. A majority of
them were of the number who attempted to gain their
liberty last week. About half of them were females, a
few of whom had but a slight tinge of African blood in
their veins, and were finely formed and beautiful. The
men were ironed together, and the whole group looked sad
and dejected. At each end of the car stood two
ruffianly-looking personages, with large canes in their
hands, and, if their countenances were an index of their
hearts, they were the very impersonation of hardened
villany itself.

"In the middle of the car stood the notorious
slave-dealer of Baltimore, Slatter, who, I learn, is a
member of the Methodist church, 'in good and regular
standing.' He had purchased the men and women around
him, and was taking his departure for Georgia. While
observing this old, gray-headed villain, - this dealer in
the bodies and souls of men, - the chaplain of the Senate
entered the car, - a Methodist brother, - and took his
brother Slatter by the hand, chatted with him for some
time, and seemed to view the heart-rending scene before
him with as little concern as we should look upon
cattle. I know not whether he came with a view to
sanctify the act, and pronounce a parting blessing; but
this I do know, that he justifies slavery, and denounces
anti-slavery efforts as bitterly as do the most hardened

"A Presbyterian minister, who owned one of the
fugitives, was the first to strike a bargain with
Slatter, and make merchandise of God's image; and many
of these poor victims, thus manacled and destined for
the southern market, are regular members of the African
Methodist church of this city. I did not hear whether
they were permitted to get letters of dismission from
the church, and of 'recommendation to any church where
God, in his providence, might cast their lot.' Probably
a certificate from Slatter to the effect that they are
Christians will answer every purpose. No doubt he will
demand a good price for slaves of this character.
Perhaps brother Slicer furnished him with testimonials
of their religious character, to help their sale in
Georgia. I understand that he was accustomed to preach
to them here, and especially to urge upon them obedience
to their masters.

"Some of the colored people outside, as well as in the
car, were weeping most bitterly. I learned that many
families were separated. Wives were there to take leave
of their husbands, and husbands of their wives, children
of their parents, brothers and sisters shaking hands
perhaps for the last time, friends parting with friends,
and the tenderest ties of humanity sundered at the
single bid of the inhuman slave-broker before them. A
husband, in the meridian of life, begged to see the
partner of his bosom. He protested that she was
free - that she had free papers, and was torn from him,
and shut up in the jail. He clambered up to one of the
windows of the car to see his wife, and, as she was
reaching forward her hand to him, the black-hearted
villain, Slatter, ordered him down. He did not obey. The
husband and wife, with tears streaming down their
cheeks, besought him to let them converse for a moment.
But no! a monster more hideous, hardened and savage,
than the blackest spirit of the pit, knocked him down
from the car, and ordered him away. The bystanders could
hardly restrain themselves from laying violent hands
upon the brutes. This is but a faint description of that
scene, which took place within a few rods of the
capitol, under _enactments_ recognized by Congress. O!
what a revolting scene to a feeling heart, and what a
retribution awaits the actors! Will not these wailings
of anguish reach the ears of the Most High? 'Vengeance
is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.'"

Of those sent off at this time, several, through the generosity of
charitable persons at the north, were subsequently redeemed, among whom
were the Edmundson girls, of whom an account is given in the "Key to
Uncle Tom's Cabin."

From one of the women, who was not sold, but retained at Washington, I
received a mark of kindness and remembrance for which I felt very
grateful. She obtained admission to the jail, the Sunday after our
committal, to see some of her late fellow-passengers still confined
there; and, as she passed the passage in which I was confined, she
called to me and handed a Bible through the gratings. I am happy to be
able to add that she has since, upon a second trial, succeeded in
effecting her escape, and that she is now a free woman.

The great excitement which our attempt at emancipation had produced at
Washington, and the rage and fury exhibited against us, had the effect
to draw attention to our case, and to secure us sympathy and assistance
on the part of persons wholly unknown to us. A public meeting was held
in Faneuil Hall, in Boston, on the 25th of April, at which a committee
was appointed, consisting of Samuel May, Samuel G. Howe, Samuel E.
Sewell, Richard Hildreth, Robert Morris, Jr., Francis Jackson, Elizur
Wright, Joseph Southwick, Walter Channing, J.W. Browne, Henry I.
Bowditch, William F. Channing, Joshua P. Blanchard and Charles List,
authorized to employ counsel and to collect money for the purpose of
securing to us a fair trial, of which, without some interference from
abroad, the existing state of public feeling in the District of Columbia
seemed to afford little prospect. A correspondence was opened by this
committee with the Hon. Horace Mann, then a representative in Congress
from the State of Massachusetts, with ex-Governor Seward, of New York,
with Salmon P. Chase, Esq., of Ohio, and with Gen. Fessenden, of Maine,
all of whom volunteered their gratuitous services, should they be
needed. A moderate subscription was promptly obtained, the larger part
of it, as I am informed, through the liberality of Gerrit Smith, now a
representative in Congress from New York, whose large pecuniary
contributions to all philanthropic objects, as well as his zealous
efforts in the same direction both with the tongue and the pen, have
made him so conspicuous. He has, indeed, a unique way of spending his
large fortune, without precedent, at least in this country, and not
likely to find many imitators.

The committee, being thus put in funds, deputed Mr. Hildreth, one of the
members of it, to proceed to Washington to make the necessary
arrangements. He arrived there toward the end of the month of May, by
which time the public excitement against us, or at least the exterior
signs of it, had a good deal subsided. But we were still treated with
much rigor, being kept locked up in our cells, denied the use of the
passage, and not allowed to see anybody, except when once in a while
Mr. Giddings or Mr. Hall found an access to us; but even then we were
not allowed to hold any conversation, except in the presence of the

It may well be imagined that the news of my capture and imprisonment,
and of the danger in which I seemed to be, had thrown my family into
great distress. I also had suffered exceedingly on their account,
several of the children being yet too young to shift for themselves. But
I was presently relieved, by the information which I received before
long, that during my imprisonment my family would be provided for.

Warm remonstrances had been made to the judge of the criminal court by
Mr. Hall against the attempt to exclude us from communication with our
friends, - a liberty freely granted to all other prisoners. The judge
declined to interfere; but Mr. Mann, having agreed to act as our
counsel, was thenceforth freely admitted to interviews with us, without
the presence of any keeper. Books and newspapers were furnished me by
friends out of doors. I presently obtained a mattress, and the liberty
of providing myself with better food than the jail allows. I continued
to suffer a good deal of annoyance from the capricious insolence and
tyranny of the marshal, Robert Wallace; but I intend to go more at
length into the details of my prison experience after having first
disposed of the legal proceedings against us.

The feeling against me was no doubt greatly increased by the failure of
the efforts repeatedly made to induce me to give up the names of those
who had coöperated with me, and to turn states-evidence against them.
There was a certain Mr. Taylor, from Boston, I believe, then in
Washington, the inventor of a submarine armor for diving purposes. I had
formerly been well acquainted with him, and, at a time when no friend of
mine was allowed access to me, he made me repeated visits at the jail,
at the request, as he said, of the District Attorney, to induce me to
make a full disclosure, in which case it was intimated I should be let
off very easy.

As Mr. Taylor did not prevail with me, one of the jailers afterwards
assured me that he was authorized to promise me a thousand dollars in
case I would become a witness against those concerned with me. As I
turned a deaf ear to all these propositions, the resolution seemed to be
taken to make me and Sayres, and even English, suffer in a way to be a
warning to all similar offenders.

The laws under which we were to be tried were those of the State of
Maryland as they stood previous to the year 1800. These laws had been
temporarily continued in force over that part of the District ceded by
Maryland (the whole of the present District) at the time that the
jurisdiction of the United Spates commenced; and questions of more
general interest, and the embarrassment growing out of the existence of
slavery, having defeated all attempts at a revised code, these same old
laws of Maryland still remain in force, though modified, in some
respects, by acts of Congress. In an act of Maryland, passed in the
year 1796, and in force in the District, there was a section which
seemed to have been intended for precisely such cases as ours. It

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Online LibraryDaniel DraytonPersonal Memoir of Daniel Drayton For Four Years and Four Months a Prisoner (For Charity's Sake) in Washington Jail → online text (page 4 of 8)