Adam Gibson

Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, December 21, 1850

Fugitive Slave Case.

            This afternoon, about 1 o’clock, a young black man apparently about 24 years of age, named Adam Gibson, was taken to the U. S. Marshal’s office by Geo. Albertin, Wm. M’Kinsley and Robt. Smith, nominally on a charge of stealing chickens, but really is a runaway slave.

In a few minutes the crowd commenced gathering, but the persons composing it behaved in an orderly manner.  The young man was arrested at the corner of Second and Lombard street, charge with stealing chickens.

No warrant was shown him, and when he resisted a pistol was put to his head.  Commissioner Edward D Ingraham was sent for and appeared in a few minutes.

Wm. S Pierce, Esq. appeared for the prisoner, and asked a short delay in the hearing, so that D. P Brown and Chas Gibbons, Esqrs, could be sent for.

A reasonable delay was allowed by the Commissioner, W. E. Lehman Esq., appeared for the agent of the owner,

The Commissioner informed the prisoner that he was charged with owing service to Wm. Knight, of Cecil co. Maryland, from which he had absconded.

Mr. Lehman offered the power of Attorney attested by Alderman Kinley, dated 12th Oct 1850. in evidence to prove one Emory Knight Owed the service alleged.

Mr. Pierce moved for an adjournment until Monday next, to give the prisoner an opportunity to prove who he is, from whence he came, and all about him.

Commissioner Ingraham said he would hear any evidence in support of the application to postpone, but he would hear no argument upon it, and the motion to postpone was rejected.

Mr. Handbert also urged postponement to give counsel a chance to confer with the prisoner, and send for witnesses to New Jersey.  Refused for the present.


Philadelphia Public Ledger, December 23, 1850

Fugitive Slave Case.—Considerable excitement was raised in this city, on Saturday afternoon, by the arrest of a young colored man, on the charge that he was a fugitive slave.  The person taken called himself Adam Gibson, but it was alleged that his real name of Emory Rice, and that he was an ab[…..]ing slave, the property of Wm. Knight, of Cecil County, Maryland.  He had resided in New Jersey, and attended the New Market, South Second street, with produce.  He is apparently about twenty-four years of age.  On Saturday afternoon, about one o’clock, whilst standing at the corner of Second and Lombard streets, he was arrested by Geo. F. Alberti, Wm. McKinley, and Robt. Smith, who told him that he was charged with stealing chickens.  He resisted the attempt, when a pistol was placed at his head, and he was put in a carriage and hurried to the office of the United States Marshal for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  News of the arrest immediately circulated, and when the carriage had reached the State House, a considerable number of whites and blacks were assembled there.  Wm. J. Pierce, T. P. Hanbest, and J. P. Longhead, Esqs., soon appeared in behalf of the prisoner, and demanded of Alberti a sight of the warrant.  This was not shown, and some difficulty ensued, during which a slight scuffle took place, which led to Gibson’s being placed in the Marshal’s office.

Shortly afterwards, Edward D. Ingraham, Esq., the Commissioner under the law, appeared, and intimated his readiness to proceed with the hearing.  A postponement was asked for, to give time to send for David Paul Brown and Chas Gibbons, as counsel for the alleged fugitive.

Wm. E Lehman, Esq., who appeared as counsel for the claimant, offered in evidence a power of attorney from Wm. Knight, of Cecil County, Maryland, to Jas. Frisby Price, authorizing the latter to arrest Emory Rice, a fugitive from labor.  It was dated Oct. 12, 1850, and acknowledged before Alderman McKinley, of this county.

Mr. Pierce then moved to adjourn the hearing, to give the alleged fugitive time to arrange proofs, and procure evidence.  The commissioner said that the proceeding was to be a summary one, the witness had been in custody for an hour and a half and might have sent for his witnesses; the case must be proceeded with.

Mr. Lehman then called George T Price, a witness to the execution of the power of attorney by Mr. Knight.  He testified to these matters and also said, I know Mr. Knight of Cecil county, Maryland, and that he had a slave named Emory Rice ; saw him there, but cannot now recognise this boy, (meaning the prisoner,) as being the person ; I also know that Emory escaped; I wrote to Mr. Knight last spring about May, I think, in relation to the boy ; I have had some conversation with Mr. Alberti about the boy ; Alberti was pointed out to me about three years ago ; since then I have spoken to him whenever he would ask me any questions about negroes, then I would answer him ; do not recollect the day ; I reside in this city.

James Frisby Price was next called and sworn.  He said—I know William Knight; I knew him in Maryland; was acquainted with his negroes; I knew Emory Rice; he was a slave belonging to Mr. Knight; I knew him to be such; I lived new Mr. Knight’s, and often saw Emory Rice; I moved away in 184[..]; Knight lived on the S[…..] river, near Fredericktown; the last time I remember of seeing him in Maryland was about five years ago; since then I have frequently seen him in our city [……] never gave any information to have him arrested.

On cross examination by D. P. Brown, Esq., who came in while the witness was on the stand, the latter admitted that he had once been arrested for kidnapping; and he knew Rice in 18[…], when he took horses round the country.  The witness lived in this city and follows oystering for a livelihood.

The case for the claimant here closed.  Application was made to the Commissioner for a postponement, in order to enable the accused to procure witnesses.

The alleged fugitive was sworn and testified that several persons could prove his right to his freedom.  The Commissioner refused to postpone, saying that the proceeding was summary, and the accused was found to have his witnesses present.  The counsel for the alleged fugitive then introduced the following witnesses.—

Samuel Anderson, a colored man, sworn,–I know the boy; his name is Adam Gibson; have known him all my lifetime; when I first knew him he lived in Cecil county, with Mr. Robert Robertson, and he was the property of Parson Davis; I left there in 1843; I have heard his mother say that she was the property of Parson Davis; have never heard of his being the property of Mr. Knight; I have always understood that Gibson was to be set free on the death of his master; I knew one boy that Knight had; his name was Emory; the prisoner is not the same person; I was born in 1825; Emory Rice was about the height of Gibson; I never was a slave; I lived with Mr. {….], about eight or nine miles from Mr. Knight’s; Parson Davis died before I left, and then Adam went to live with Dr. Davis, in Kant county.

Daniel Wilikins, clored, sworn—I live in Jersey, at Pettersville; I know the boy Adam; have known him about ten or twenty years; I knew his father and mother in Cecil county; I did not know his name then, he was so small; his mother’s name was Charity; she lived with Parson Davis in Kent county; I have been at his place and saw Charity there; I left Maryland about twenty-five years ago; I was in Maryland about twenty-five years ago; I was in Maryland again in 1845, and saw the boy there then, and also saw his mother; she was then free; he was with his mother; I never knew Mr. Knight, and never heard that Adam belonged to him; his mother was then living on a farm on  the Sassafrass creek; the farm once belonged to Moses Ch[…..]; I am now about forty-five or forty-six years old.  I was a slave, and belonged to a person named Stephens; I bought my time.

Mr. Brown an abstract of the will of Henry [… …], dated 16th March, [……]; and recorded in Kent county, Maryland.  The will set forth that on the last day of the year succeeding the one in which he should die, his slaved should be deeded over to the officers of the State Colonization Society, to be sent to Africa.  His slaves were all named in the will.  Among the names that of Adam Gibson.

The evidence here closed.  The counsel for the prisoner contended that the […..] was not the person claimed.  The evidence of the two witnesses for the accused had entirely contradicted that of the only witnesses for the claimant who attempted to identify Adam Gibson as the alleged fugitive, Emory Rice.  The evidence for the prisoner was too strong to be overcome, and the prisoner ought to be discharged.

The Commissioner declared himself satisfied that the accused was the person claimed, and that the right of master was established.  He decided that he should be given up to the agent of the claimant.  The proper papers were made out and he was given in custody of the representatives of Mr. Knight.  Crowds of persons, principally blacks, hung about the State House during the afternoon and evening.  No disorder was mentioned, and no attempts to rescue or disturb the peace made.  The accused was removed without any trouble in time to be placed in the cars for Baltimore at the depot at Eleventh and Market streets, and was conveyed to Maryland.  Throughout the whole proceeding he appeared unconcerned as to the result, and on one occasion at least,, when he might have escaped with impunity, neglected to avail himself of the opportunity.  Police Marshal Kerner was promptly on the ground with a large body of police, but there was no occasion for any energetic exercise of his authority.

Philadelphia Public Ledger, December 24, 1850

Return of the Alleged Fugitive.The friends of Adam Gibson (the colored man carried off on Saturday evening as a fugitive slave) were greatly rejoiced yesterday to learn that he was disclaimed by his reputed owner, and would return to the city by the afternoon time.  It seems that after he was given up to the agents of the alleged master, Wm. Knight, he was conveyed to Elkton, Md., by three of the Marshal’s Police, and Wm. Halzell, U. S. Deputy Marshal, accompanied by George F. Alberti.  When the party reached that place, Mr. Knight was sent for.  Upon making he appearance he said at once that he knew the boy—his name was Adam, but he was not his slave.  He knew he had been a slave in the county for some one and had suddenly disappeared, but he had no claim upon him, and he might be taken back.  He said that he knew the boy was acquainted with Emory Rice and knew where he was to be found—that he had better tell him to come back, for he was bound to have him.  The marshal then determined to bring Gibson back.  He was brought on Sunday as far as Newark, Delaware, where he left the cars temporarily.  The cars being about to start he attempted to jump on, but missed them and fell upon the road.  He reached Wilmington by some means during the night, and probably fearing some new molestation, determined to walk to this city.  This he did.  He was met at Gray’s Ferry by the Rev. Dr. Bias, a colored clergyman, who conveyed him in a carriage to the Philadelphia Institute in Lombard street, above South, where a vast number of colored persons were collected in anticipation.  He there received a most hearty welcome—the crowd hailing his appearance with cheers.  Quite an interesting scene also took place there on the restoration of Gibson to his wife and children, who were entirely ignorant of his capture until yesterday morning.

We may mention in connection with the subject, a fact which might have been important to the claimant of Emory Rice if he had known it sooner.  It is very well-ascertained that Emory Rice was conversing with Adam Gibson, at the corner of Second and Lombard streets, on Saturday afternoon, about two minutes before Gibson was arrested.  It may be fairly presumed that the real Simon Pure is, before this, out of the way of all arrests.

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