Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

the inherent right of the people to change and modify their form of government. In the Constitution of the United States, as well as in those of the several States, modes are provided by which their provisions can be altered. If obnoxious acts of Congress are passed, they can be changed or repealed. Hence this defendant, if he has perpetrated the offence charged in the indictment, has raised his hand without excuse or palliation against the freest government on the face of the earth. He has not only set its laws at defiance, by seeking to overturn them, and to render them inoperative and void; but the conspiracy into which he entered, assumed a deeper and more malignant dye from the wanton manner in which it was actually consummated. I allude to the murder in which it resulted. An honorable and worthy citizen of a neighboring State, who entered our Commonwealth under the protection of the Constitution and Laws of the Union, for the purpose of claiming his property under due process of law, was mercilessly beaten and murdered, in consequence

of the acts of the defendant and his associates. It is a disgrace upon our national escutcheon; a blot upon the fair fame of Pennsylvania ; a reproach which nothing short of the conviction and punishment of the offenders can ever wipe out. It is for you, gen. tlemen of the jury, to judge of the evidence which the government will submit in this case; and I need not say to you, that if it proves the defendant to have been one of the actors in the bloody tragedy at Christiana, that you will find him guilty of the offence.

I do not desire in the course of my remarks, to say anything which may be calculated unnecessarily to inflame your minds against the defendant. I trust he may be able to convince you that he had no participation in the dreadful transactions of the 11th of September, and thus rescue his name from the obloquy and infamy which would otherwise attach to it. He has a right to de. mand a fair and impartial hearing at your hands, and a candid and dispassionate consideration of the testimony which he may produce. Nay, he is entitled to even more than this; for every reasonable doubt which may arise in the cause is to be resolved in his favor. He is not to be required to establish his innocence, but it is for the prosecution to make out and prove his guilt. The Government of the United States does not ask any man's conviction on testimony which is uncertain in its nature, and not adequate to establish the facts for which it is adduced. On the other hand, we have a right to expect from you a fair and impartial discharge of public duty. A

heavy responsibility rests upon you, and there is no way of evading its requirements. If it can be shown by competent and creditable testimony that the defendant is guilty of the offence which is charge ed in the indictment, it is essential to the peace of the country that you should say so by your verdict. Justice requires it, and the ob. ligation of your oaths demand it.

I need hardly say to you that the outrage perpetrated at Christiana was, in my judgment, treason against the United States; and all who participated in it are guilty of that offence. It was a concerted and combined resistance of a statute of the United States by force, and was made with the declared intent, so far as the defendant Hanway was concerned, to render its provisions void, and to make the act altogether inoperative. The proof against him will be clear and convincing, and such as to satisfy every one of his guilt. The overt acts will be established by the testimony of more than two witnesses, in so pointed and distinct a manner that no question of their truth can exist.

In order that you may fully understand the character of the evidence which we propose to introduce, I will give you a brief narrative of the facts as they will be detailed by the witnesses.

On the 9th of September last, Edward D. Ingraham, Esq., a Commissioner of the United States, issued four warrants, directed to Henry H. Kline, an officer appointed by him under the authority of the Act of 13th September, 1850, commanding him to apprehend Noah Bailey, Nelson Ford, Joshua Hammond and George Hammond, who had been legally charged before the said Commissioner with being fugitives from labor, who had escaped from the State of Maryland into the State of Pennsylvania, and owed such service and labor to a certain Edward Gorsuch. The fact that the writs had been issued, became known to a colored man living in this city, named Samuel Williams, who preceded the officers to the neighborhood where the slaves resided, and where the arrests were to have been made, and gave notice that they were coming to execute them. On the 11th of September, Kline and his party, consisting of Edward Gorsuch, Dickerson Gorsuch, Joshua M. Gorsuch, Dr. Thomas Pearce, Nicholas Hutchings and Nathan Nelson, proceeded to Christiana, Lancaster County, and on arriving there, started for Parker's house, a place about three miles distant from the railroad depot on the Columbia road, which they reached about day-light in the morning. While proceeding along the road, and across the fields, their attention was arrested by the sound of horns, and the blowing of a bugle. After watching about Parker's house for a short time, one or two negroes were seen coming out of it. On discovering Kline and his party they fled back into the house, and on pursuit being made by him, they ran up stairs.

These negroes were recognized by Edward Gorsuch and known to be his slaves. Kline entered the house, and almost immediately ascertained that a large number of negroes were concealed in the upper part of it; he nevertheless went to the stairway and called the keeper of the house to come down, stating that he was desirous of speaking to him. The negroes at this time were heard loading their

guns. Kline hearing the noise, said to them that there was no occasion for arming themselves,—that he designed to harm no one, but meant to arrest two men who were in the house, for whom he had warrants. Some one replied they would not come down. Edward Gorsuch then went himself to the stairway, called his slaves by name, and stated that if they would come down and return home he would treat them kindly and forgive the past. Kline then read the warrants three times, and afterwards attempted to go up stairs, when a sharp pointed instrument was thrust at him, and an axe afterwards thrown down which struck two of the party below. Edward Gorsuch then went to the front door of the house, and looking up to the window, again called to his slaves by name, when a shot was fired at him from the window. In order to intimidate the blacks, Kline fired his pistol. At this period a horn was blown in the house which was answered by other horns from the outside, as if by pre-concerted action. The negroes then asked fifteen minutes time for consideration, which was granted to them. At this moment a white man was seen approaching the house on horseback. It turned out to be Castner Hanway, the present defendant. Kline immediately walked towards him and inquired if he resided in the neighborhood. His answer was short and rude : « It is none

of your business." Kline replied by letting him know he was a Deputy Marshal of the United States, gave him the war. rants to read, and called upon him in the name of the United States to assist in making the arrests. Hanway replied “ he would not assist--that he did not care for that act of Congress or any other act, - that the negroes had rights and could defend themselves, and that he need not come there to make arrests, for he could not do it." By this time another white man had arrived on the ground, (Elijah Lewis,) who walked up to Kline and asked him for his authority to be there. Kline showed his papers to him also. Lewis then read the warrants, passed them to Hanway, who returned them to the Marshal. Lewis, after reading the warrants, said “the negroes had a right to defend themselves.” Kline then called upon him to assist him in making the arrests, when he refused, and would not even tell his name. Kline then asked Hanway where his residence was; he replied “you must find that out the best way you can.”

Kline then explained to them what his views of the act of Congress of 1850 were, and informed them that through their agency these slaves would escape. By this time the blacks had gathered in very large numbers around the house, armed with guns, which they commenced pointing towards the Marshal. At this juncture, Kline implored Hanway and Lewis to keep the negroes from firing, and he would withdraw his men, leave the ground, and let the negroes go. Hanway instantly replied, “they had a right to defend themselves, and he would not interfere.” Kline's answer was, “ they were not good citizens, or they never would permit the laws to be set at defiance in this way.” Dr. Pearce then remarked “that all they wanted was their property, and that they did not wish to hurt a hair of any one's head.” Lewis replied “that negroes were not property,” and then walked away. By this time another gang of negroes had arrived, armed with guns and clubs, and Hanway rode up to them and said something in a low tone of voice. He moved his horse out of the way of the guns;

the

negroes shouted, and immediately fired from every direction. Hanway rode a short distance down the lane leading from Parker's house, and sat on his horse watching the blacks. Kline then called to Lewis, telling him a man was shot, and begging him to come and assist, which Lewis refused to do. This conversation took place at the bars on the short lane, which will be shown to you upon the plan we purpose giving in evidence. While this conversation was going on, and just before the firing commenced, Edward Gorsuch was standing in the short lane, about half way between the bars and the house. Joshua M. Gorsuch was standing near him ; Dickinson Gorsuch was in the short lane, not so near his father as was Joshua, and Dr. Pearce, Mr Hutchings and Mr. Nelson were somewhere near the same spot. The number of negroes assembled at this time must have exceeded one hundred. Before the firing commenced, Edward Gorsuch was struck with a club on the back part of the head, and fell forward on his hands and knees. As he was struggling to rise, and in the act

2

He was

of getting upon his feet, he was shot down, and when prostrate on the ground, was cut on the head with a corn cutter, and beaten with clubs. Dickinson Gorsuch, on perceiving the attack made upon his father, immediately rushed to his assistance, when his revolver was knocked out of his hand, and he himself shot in various parts of the body, producing intense agony, and rendering him utterly helpless. Joshua M. Gorsuch was attacked at the same time, and defended himself with his revolver, which he twice snapped at his assailants, but the powder being wet it would not go off. also struck down and cruelly beaten and maltreated. When the firing commenced, Kline, in order to avoid its effects, escaped into a corn-field, but on seeing Dickinson Gorsuch struggling in the short la.ie apparently wounded and bleeding, at the risk of his own life he went to his assistance, and placed him under the shelter of a iree until aid could be procured. Hutchings and Nelson, two of the others, were at this time making their escape, the negroes being in full pursuit. Dr. Pearce and Joshua Gorsuch retreated by the short lane, and a number of shots were fired at them as they moved off. Dr. Pearce was shot in the wrist, side and shoulder, and a ball also passed through his hat just above his forehead. In the effort to escape, these latter gentlemen rushed towards Hanway, who was still sitting on his horse in the long lane. They besought him to prevent the negroes from pursuing farther. He said he could not. They then asked permission to get upon his horse, wbich would afford the means of making their escape.

He refused their

request, a d putting whip to his horse rode off at full speed. This mode of a safe retreat being denied to Dr. Pearce and Joshua Gorsuch, their only hope was in continuing to

Pearce

was in front and Joshua Gorsuch behind. In looking back, Dr. Pearce saw a negro who had previously fired at him, strike Joshua Gorsuch with a gun, which felled him to the earth, and only escaped himself by rushing into a neighboring farm-house, where he was concealed from view. Joshua M. Gorsuch and Dickinson Gorsuch were subsequently carried to houses in the vicinity, and were a long time recovering froin their wounds. In connection with this narrative of facts, I will also state that there are two or three other matters which will appear in the course of the testimony to which I shall call your

attention. FirstThat so soon as Hanway appeared at the bars, the negroes in Parker's house appeared evidently to be encouraged, and

run.

« AnteriorContinuar »