Hannah and Henry / Richard Dellam

Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, March 10, 1851

The Fugitive Slave Case

            UNITED STATES CIRCUIT COURT—Judge Kane.—The case of the two alleged fugitives, Helen and Dick, who were before the Court on Saturday last, and noticed on that day, and which was postponed until this morning, came up again according to postponement.  A very large number of ladies were present, and the Court room and avenues leading thereto were crowded.

It is proper that we should correct an error in Saturday’s Bulletin, stating that Wm. S Pierce, Esq. was counsel for the claimant.  Mr. Pierce is counsel for the alleges fugitive.

D. P. Brown, at the opening, said, that upon any other occasion than the present, it would be a pleasant thing for him to present himself before the court.  But this was a case of somewhat extraordinary importance, involving features of a peculiar character.  Before this case is opened I take leave to suggest to you the necessity that may arise of asking for a temporary postponement, and expect when the two comes for a hearing, we shall have the opportunity of presenting our case as we would have had if the matter was gone into at once.  Liberty and slavery resides, at the present time, in the same person, and blossom and bough may both be withered at the same time.  If the necessity should arise, he wished to have the benefit of this early application, if the counsel for the claimant […]as not having been made in time.  He therefore state[…] at the proper time.

Judge Kane said, that in one or two cases which have arisen under the act of Congress, he had held that the application for a continuance for the purpose of procuring evidence, should be made at the opening of the case.

R. M. Lee offered a record in evidence, but Mr. Pierce said the habeas corpus was first in order.

Mr. Pierce moved to quash the warrants of arrest, and to discharge the prisoners, on the ground of the insufficiency of the warrants.  The warrants do not set forth with sufficient certainty a description of the persons of the fugitives, nor was there a certificate that an oath had been made that the alleged fugitives owed service to any person.  The description set forth Helen as a negress and Dick as a negro boy, without further description.  To show the insufficiency of the description, he quoted from 4 Cranch, 449.

Judge Kane said, if his argument was to show, that under the act of Congress, a description of the person in the warrant was necessary, he would relieve him from reading the case.  The same sort of warrant that a father would require to recover possession of his child, was all that was necessary.  If the warrant was blank paper, and the master here with the fugitives to claim them, he would hear the case.

The affidavits taken in Baltimore county, Maryland, were offered and objected to by Mr. Brown.  He said he would object to every thing he considered a matter of principle.  This was not a case in which they were called upon to be liberal.  He read the 6th section of the fugitive law, to show that a warrant must be secured from a proper agent, or by affidavit taken before a proper legal officer with a certificate of his magistracy, with the seal of the court attached.  It was never contemplated in the law, that the claimant should make the affidavit in his own case, that the party owed servitude.  The party who is the witness here offered, is plaintiff in the suit, and twenty seals of a Court cannot give it validity.  If offered now as witness, to swear to the facts he swore to in his affidavit, he would not be listened to, and can he be heard there, through his affidavit.  A witness who would not be competent here, cannot be competent there; the great touchstone of a cross-examination is wanting.  A slave is positively prohibited from testifying there—and the owner by implication, for there is nothing in the law allowing it, is asked to be permitted to testify in the absence of the defendant, which cannot be allowed in any Christian country.

Mr. Lee replied, that if the statements of Mr. Brown were born out by the record, it would present one state of facts; but as the record was in accordance with the act of Congress, it was obligatory upon the Court.  He begged attention to the 6th section of the act, to show that the seal was all that was necessary as to the validity of the proof, and he would now refer to the 10th sec. which had not been noticed by the other side, and which clearly sets forth that the record should be sufficient to show that the person claimed was a fugitive and owed service to the claimant.  Unless this case was made clear beyond the shadow of a doubt, he would not ask to have the prisoners delivered up.

Mr. Brown replied, that he did not intend that the counsel should have any of the evils befall him which he had spoken of, if these persons should be unlawfully sent into slavery.  He felt himself as well founded under the 10th sec as under the 6th.   The party to that sec. is to make sufficient proof, before a competent Judge, that the persons claimed are fugitives and owe service to the claimant.  But satisfactory proof is the highest order of testimony, and not the mere ex parte statement of the claimant.

Judge Heath, of Maryland, did not determine that the proof was sufficient; that is for this court to settle; that Judge only certifies that such proof as was offered, was taken before him, and has nothing to say as to its sufficiency.  He merely forwards the deposition taken, to this Court.  The affidavits mention marks,&c, which can only be examined into here.

Judge Kane said that the paper before him was an exemplification of the U. S. District Court of Maryland, with the proofs usually attached, made in due form of law.  The certificate attached sets forth that one John Perdu, of Baltimore, testified that certain slaves described had escaped from him and owed him service.  He would say that the petition was to the Judge there to bear proofs only, and he could not reject it.  By our rules, most petitions are required to be verified.  The oath forms part of the record, but is no part of the petition.  The fugitive law requires that oath should be made of escape and that service was owing to the claimant, and that a general description of the person claimed should be set forth.  In Judge Heath’s certificate this general description is omitted, but he did not think this omission would warrant the court in rejecting the record.  He would therefore admit it for the present, and the subject could be discussed at a future time.

Mr. Lee read the affidavits taken before Judge Heath, in Baltimore.  They set forth that Wm. Hunter appeared and made oath that he knew the claimant, John Perdu, and certain fugitives, among whom were the tow named Helen and Henry, and that they were slaves for life, together with Zachariah, Charity and Nicholas; that they ran away in November, 1849.  It describes Helen as a dark woman of about 40 years of age; and Henry he supposes to be about 9 years, and of about the complexion of his mother; their heights he never measured.  That he is the brother in law of the claimant, who resides in Baltimore county, Md.

Arthur M’Court’s affidavit was read—It gave a description of the several fugitives, and described Helen, one of the fugitives, in as loose a manner as the preceding affidavit.  These affidavits were attest by Judge Heath and Thos. Spicer, Clerk of the U. S. District Court of Maryland.

Mr. Brown asked that the witness in Court, on the part of the claimant, not on the stand, should retire while the testimony was being taken,

Wm. Hutchins, Sworn—I see two of the slaves of John Perdu here, Henry, Helen; I have known Helen ever since she was born ; I know them to be Mr. Perdu’s slaves; I raised Helen; I gave her to my son in law John Perdu, about 17 years ago; she left his service about 18 months ago; I have no doubt of them; I visit him two or three times a month; they owe service for life to Mr. Perdu.

Cross examined—I live in Hartford; Mr. Perdu lives in Baltimore county; I live about 2 miles from him, in the 4th district; we have always lived in the same relative position; I have lived there 70 years; Helen is about 38 years old; I keep a list of the ages sometimes; I could have told exactly; I give all my blacks names and ages to the assessor; I don’t know that I kept a record of her age or any of her children; I have a record kept at home; but not of all her children, nor of the time of parting with them; I owned this nigger’s mother; my father left her to me by will; I have no copy of the will with me, but have it at home; he let me all his property; he owned the mother of her again; he bought her, but that was before my time; my daughter has been married about 17 years; can’t tell exactly, but think it was in 1831 or 2; I gave this woman to both my daughter and her husband about six months after she was married; my wife took them over to my daughter, no papers passed; I gave them to her merely; these niggers left about 18 months ago; I never advertised them, nor gave any account of them; I was sent for to come on here; Perdu is a farmer and always followed it; he has a couple of slaves there; I know of no slaves being sold from his place either by himself or by a Marshal’s sale; I have heard of a couple of slaves being sold from the place.

[Examination still proceeding.]

Philadelphia Public Ledger, March 10, 1851

The Fugitive Slave Case.The case of the colored woman and child, noticed on Saturday, who were arrested on Friday last, at Columbia, Pa., has not yet been heard. A habeas corpus was issued by Judge Kane, at the instance of the alleged fugitives, which removed the case from U. S. Commisioner Ingraham. The Court being occupied during the day, in the argument of a patent case, the hearing of the slave case was adjourned until this morning, by consent of counsel. The persons claimed called themselves Hannah Dellam and Henry Dellam. The claimant, John Perdue of Baltimore County, Md., alleges that they are Helen and Dick, his slaves, who escaped in 1849, together with the father and three other children.  Warrants were issued for the whole family, but the others eluded the pursuers. The woman was arrested while washing at a house under which she was employed; the boy was secreted under some hay in a barn. The woman is far advanced in a state of pregnancy, and it is thought that a question may arise whether she ought to be yielded up to the claimant in her present condition, if it should be proved she is a runaway. If the child is born in Maryland, it will follow the conditions of the mother. If, on the contrary, it is born here, it will be free. There was the usual attendance of white and colored spectators at the Court room, but no interference with the course of law was manifested.  J. D. Bennett represented the claimant; W. S. Pierce, D. P. Brown and others, the alleged fugitives.

Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, March 11, 1851

The Fugitive Slave Case.

            UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.—Judge Kane.—The testimony in this case, which was given yesterday afternoon, after we went to press, was of a conflicting character.  Four witnesses  of respectable appear, from Maryland, swore positively to the identity of the alleged fugitive, one of whom had been raised on the same farm with this woman, and the others had known her for twenty or thirty years.  Three witnesses had been examined for the defence, who swore as positively that they had known both of the prisoners for several years in Columbia, Pa., antecedent to the alleged time of escape.  Upon cross-examination, and even in the examination in chief, they were greatly at variance in dates when describing their means of knowledge of the time, by circumstances which occurred.  These contradictions they could not reconcile.

This morning, the case was resumed.


Charles Clark, sworn—I live in Columbia; I have lived there 12 or 15 years; I am a teamster; I am a married man; I live in Elbow Lane; I know them both, the boy and woman; I first saw them about 3 years ago, at my own house; they came there to board; she came there in October; the reason I can fix the date is because in that month a kidnapper came there after a man and caught him and brought him into the town; the reason I know that time is because one October to another October makes one year, and so on up to this October, which will make 4 years; she came there in 1847; I knew Mrs. Haden like a major; she lived about two squares from me; I was intimate with her; she died after Christmas, in Jan 1848; my wife went away at that time to Little York at that time, and that is the reason I can fix the time of Mrs. Haden’s death in 1848; when my wife came back Mrs. Haden was dead; it is more than 2 years ago since I saw her in Columbia; I am certain of it; she remained at my house about 3 months; I have no doubt about the woman and the boy; the boy lived with me a years after she left; she had a mark by which I can recognize her; one day as she was washing I saw a mark on her wrist; it was a burn or a cut; it was on the right arm; after the boy left me he went with a man by the name of Armstrong, knocking about the road; it has been better than a year since the boy left my house; after he went away I had another little boy there; I employed him after Dick went away; about 0 days after; his name was Henry; he didn’t stay more than two or three weeks; after he went away I got no other boy; I can’t tell my son’s age; that is in the Bible; he was not as old as Dick; I don’t know how old Dick is; I have been in the habit of seeing him two or three times a week since he left me; I know Mr. Stephens; he was an agent on the passenger cars; I saw Dick there while Stephens was there; I served on the cars three years and six months under Ritner’s administration; I can’t tell when Shunk was elected; Dick and his mother came to my house long before Mr. Stephens went on the cars; Mr. Stephens kept store there before he went on the cars; they were there 2 years for certain before Stephen went on the cars; she went under the name of Hannah Bellam; I never discovered any great muscular power in Dick; (Hannah, the allege slave, came forward and presented her naked arm to the Court, and pointed to the scar alluded to by the witness on the stand;) I left Columbia on last Sunday; I saw the woman yesterday her in court; I never saw her anywhere else in this city; my attention has not been called to this scar since I have been in this city; I now work for Mr. Hamilton; Dick left me before I commenced working for Mr. Hamilton; I saw the scar on her arm in my own house; the woman went to Mrs. Haden after she left me; she then kept a private room; she supported herself by day’s work.

Cross Examined.—I was born in Pennsylvania; I have been married in the neighborhood of ten year; I can’t tell the year I was married in; I can’t tell what month my son was born in; I was married in this city; I was living in Columbia when I was married; I had been living in Columbia 6 or 7 years before I was married; I can’t tell when any of my children were born or when any of them died; I can’t tell the year I bought my house; I bought the house before I was married; It has been about nine months since I bought the house; I bought it to take my wife to; I have been married in the neighborhood of 10 years; she never told me the child was her’s; he called her mother and that is all I know about it; they did not tell me where they came from; Mrs. Haden has been dead in the neighborhood of one, two, three or four years; I can’t tell the year this woman came to my house; they came to my house in the month of October; there was nothing to induce suspicion when they came to my house; I can’t tell the year I went to Little York; I can’t tell the present year; I can’t tell the year I left Williamsport; I can’t tell the year I went to Columbia; I can’t tell whether this is the year 1848 or not; I can’t read; I recollect Christmas; I can’t tell how many Christmases have passed since Mrs. Haden died; I can’t tell how many 4ths of July have passed since she died; I can’t tell how many New Years have passed since Mrs. Haden died.

Answer to questions by Mr. Brown—I am a man of no education; I cannot tell whether this year is 1849, 1850, or 1851; I can’t tell what last year was called; I was employed by Mr. Hamilton in March, and the way I knew that I have been with him a year, is because from last March makes one year; I knew when Mrs. Haden died only from report; Mrs. Haden’s daughter was married before Hannah came to my house.

Answers to questions by the Judge—Hannah paid the board to my wife; I don’t know whether she paid any; my wife bargained with her; I knew nothing about it; I saw her working at different times; I don’t recollect seeing the scar more than once; I said nothing to her about it; I asked her no question; I never asked her how she got that scar; I have never seen that scar since then; the scar looks the same as it did; I saw the scar here to-day; It is the same mark, on the same place on the same arm; it is black; it is on the same side of the arm between the elbow and the wrist; I have never talked with any person about it since.

She had been at my house when the kidnappers came into Columbia; I did not say that she came there on the day the kidnappers made the arrest; she went to Mrs. Haden’s somewhere about Christmas; Mrs. Haden died after Christmas in the month of January; I found out Hannah’s name by asking my wife; I did not ask where she came from; I have been to see her at her house; she had non but this boy when she boarded with me.

Henry Bunday (colored) sworn—I live in Columbia; I have lived there 6 years; one year I worked at the river; one year I worked at the furnace, and for the last four years I have been running the cars; I am married to Mary Haden; I was married three years last October; my wife’s mother died in 1848; she died the next year after I was married; something life four months after I was married; I was living under the same roof when she died; Hannah Dallum, this woman here, nursed her in her last illness; she must have come there before Christmas; After my mother-in-law’s death I paid Hannah 6 dollars; I understood from my wife that she was to receive $1 per week.

It can’t be possible that I have made a mistake in the date of my marriage, or in the death of my mother in law; I was working on the cars for Mr. Gorrick when I was married; Mrs. Haden died in the moth of January, 1848; the boy was at my house once or twice when Hannah lived with me I live in the same house in which my mother died; I have seen Hannah since then about the river and the streets.

I have also seen Dick about the shore and the railroad with her; I am certain that is the woman, and I am certain that is the boy; I was at Lancaster when Gen Taylor passed through there, and heard him speak; I was married at the time I saw him ; It was in the fall of the year when I saw him; my wife saw him also at Lancaster; the girl we have kept the house when my wife and myself went to Lancaster; my brother in law came to hire at the house before I was married; it was after my mother died when I saw Taylor at Lancaster.

Cross-examined—I was born in Rockingham County, Va.; I was free; I was born free; I guess I was born in the year 1825 ; I am about 24 or 25 years of age ; I went to Columbia in the year 1844; in the month of January ; I left Virginia in the fall of 1843 ; I went to Chambersburg ; I arrived there in the fall of the year, on a Sunday; I commenced working at the furnace in the spring of the year ; I went to work at the cars in the year 1846;in the spring ; I first saw Hannah in the month of December, at my house ; Dick may be 12 or 13 years of age ; I never heard his age ; Jacob Strickler had the boy when he was taken; he was taken off his property ; I saw him running about the farm ; Mrs. Swollyer knew Hannah for two or three years, and she is better than a white man; she said that Hannah washed for her ; she worked at Serdan’s

[Examination still proceeding.]

Philadelphia Public Ledger, March 11, 1851

The Fugitive Slave Case.

            Yesterday, in the United States Circuit Court, before Judge Kane, the fugitive case, in which Hannah Dellam and Henry Dellam, mother and son, were charged as fugitive slaves named Ellen and Dick, the property of John Perdue of Baltimore county, Md., came up before Judge Kane, on habeas corpus.

David Paul Brown, Esq., before the commencement of the […. ….. …] to the  Court, for a further postponement if it should be necessary.  The necessity might not arise, if it did he wished to have the benefit of an early application and notice.

Judge Kane said, that in previous cases he had intimated that he expected the application for a postponement to be made at the earliest possible moment after it became apparent that it would be necessary.  It was not required that evidence should be anticipated, but where the application was for the purpose or procuring evidence wholly within the applicant’s knowledge, it should be made at an early stage of the hearing.

Mr. Pierce moved to quash the warrants of arrest on the ground of insufficiency ; that they do not set forth with sufficient certainty the descriptions of the persons to be arrested; and that there was no legal charge of the offence alleged against them, and that no oath had been made.  The warrant is for Henry, a negro, and for Ellen, a negress, without further description.  The only thing that can be intimated as a certificate of the affidavit, is the Commissioner Ingraham’s recital—“Whereas, it has been legally charged before me.”

Judge Kane said that if the counsel intended to argue the question whether a warrant of arrest  for a violation of law should contain a description of the person to be arrested, and affidavit of the offence, he would relieve them from the necessity of discussing these questions.  The party claimant is here with the same sort of authority a father has over a child, or husband over a wife—a right to take without a legal process.  If it is established that the party is in Court claiming his fugitive as master, it will be satisfied.  If the writ was but blank paper, if the master was present claiming to hold a fugitive from service and labor.  I should go no further than the constitution of the United States to determine my duty.  At this time it can make no difference whether the warrant is correct or not.  It is sufficient that the respondent claims to hold the relators as fugitives from service and labor.

Mr. Bennett offered the deposition of John Perdue, the owner, and of other persons taken before Judge Heath of the District Court of the United States for Maryland, and certified under the seal of the Court.

Mr. Brown objected to their reception, upon the ground that the oath of the party claimant ex parte, and without cross-examination, cannot be received.  He quoted the sixth section of the fugitive slave law to sustain his allegations.

Robert M. Lee, for the claimant, contended that under the sixth and tenth sections of the act, the record was const[…..] and could not be disregarded.

Mr. Brown contended that under the act, the party must furnish satisfactory proof.  They must establish it by proper evidence—not by the mere oath of the party claiming.  The court in Maryland had not certified that there was satisfactory proof, but had sent depositions here to this court for it to determine whether the proof was satisfactory.

Judge Kane decided in substance that the petition, although verified by oath under the direction of the Judge in the District Court, was not vitiated by that fact—nor was it endowed with extra importance the verification by affidavit was made necessary by the rules of many Courts, because they would receive the petitions—but the petitions thereby acquired no extra virtue.  The certificate and proceedings were under the law sufficient to establish that slaves owing service and labor to the claimant, had escaped.  The only variance between the act of Congress and the certificate of Judge Heath was this, that the certificate omits that general description of the persons escaped, and which may perhaps be essential to the certificate.  I do not think it necessary to inquire whether that portion of the certificate is indispensable or not, inasmuch as it seems to me that this series of deposition is proper to be submitted to me under the sixth section of the law as depositions and may be read in evidence—reserving the question upon the effect of the certificate, if necessary, hereafter.

Mr. Lee read the Petition of John Perdue, and the deposition of William Hunter, taken in Maryland.  He testified that he knew Zachariah Shaw., Charles, Jane, Ellen, (the woman claimed,) and her children charity, Henry and Nicholas.  Ellen was given to the wife of Mr. Perdue by Mr. Hutchings her father, when she was married some years ago.  Ellen and the other children escaped in November, 1949.

Arthur McCourt’s deposition to the same effect was read.

William Hutchings, the father-in-law of John Perdue, the claimant, was called.  He testified that Ellen, the woman, was born his slave; that he gave her to his daughter when she married Mr. Perdue; the children have been born since; they escaped about eighteen months ago.

On cross-examination—He said that Ellen had been his slave; his father had owned her mother Charity, whose mother he had bought ; the daughter of witness was married about seventeen or eighteen years ago, in 1831 or 1832; they were made a present about six months after the marriage; they were sent over to her; no papers passed; witness considers he gave them to Perdue and his wife, and has no claim on them; they were never advertised after they ran away; Mr. Perdue is a farmer; has a couple of slave there; knows of no sheriff’s or marshal’s sale  of his slaves, and of no sales of slaves, except a couple, Charles and another; don’t recollect the name, heard he sold them in Baltimore; knows of no judgments or mortgages on them ; knows of no marks on Ellen; she had children, Henry Charity, Charles, and another, don’t know the name ; when they left; Henry was between six and seven years old; Charles between eighteen and nineteen; Charity about ten, and the youngest about a years old.  The father of these children was Stephen; he ran away three years before Ellen.  Knows Ellen’s countenance, have not heard her speak since she was here; she speaks tolerably quick;  saw her three days before she went away; she came to bid our people farewell, I suppose; I knew of no privilege for her to leave the place to come up here; John and Thomas Perdue are partners; I know of no sale to Thomas or partnership in the slaves; I am over seventy years of age.

John Holmes, testified—Lives in Baltimore county, Md.; lives near John Perdue; he lives nears the line between Harford and Baltimore county ; I have been at Perdue’s almost every day ; know his slaves, these, Ellen and Dick; I have seen them often; they are Perdue’s slaves for life; I own Ellen’s sister now; the boy is peculiar, as being the strongest in muscle power I have ever known ; have noticed him many time; I know then as well as I know my wife.

Cross examined—I know of no sales of Mr. Perdue’s property, or of his slaves; they were not advertised when they ran away ; the boy stammers a little when her talks; I can’t name any particular marks on the woman; Mr. Perdue sold two slaves about two weeks before these ran away ; they were Charles and Angeline; I was up at Columbia a short time since; I did not see this woman there, or hold conversation with any person about her.

John Hutchins, testified—To the identity of Ellen and Henry ; heave seen them hundreds of times; they escaped in 1849, in October, or thereabouts; Ellen was raised on my father’s farm.

Cross-examined—I am thirty-six years old ; Ellen lived on my father’s farm till I was eighteen; I saw the boy at Columbia; I recognized him there.

Question—Who told you he was there?

Objected to by Mr. Lee, who opposed an inquiry to the individual.

Mr. Brown said that he wanted to show how he obtained information.  The Judge admitted the question to show the sources of intelligence.

Witness—I received information in spoken words.

Question—From whom?

Judge—I do not see the bearing of this question.

The Judge discriminated this case from that of Mahal or Euphemia Williams, in which such an inquiry was allowed upon the peculiar circumstances of that case.  There the witness had not seen the alleged fugitive for twenty-five years; and in this case the witness had seen the alleged fugitive up to within a short period.  The question of who gave the information where the fugitives were seemed to be immaterial.

Mr. Brown said he had a privilege to show that the witness had communications with others, which led his mind to identify the parties in consequence of preconceived opinions derived from the information of others.

The Judge said the object was pertinent.  If the witness had his mind pre occupied by information ; if he was told he would find his fugitive at a certain place concealed, in a certain way, and went there, it would be admissible to show his pre formed ideas.  But the inquiry might go further and propose inquires into sources of information not pertinent to the matter.

The witness resumed—We received information that the runaway were at Columbia; we received it at Columbia; we were directed to a cabin at Tow Hill. about an hour before we saw them; we did not find them at Tow Hill; we got no new direction  but hunted till we found them;  I did not notice whether the person who directed us at first accompanied us until we found them; we found the woman in a house, no one took me there; we went there on suspicion; it was a house shut up; it looked as if nobody stayed there; I don’t remember that anyone told me to go there; would not know where to find them, we went on till we found them; we singled out that house because it looked suspicious; we found nobody there but Ellen.

The question from whom he received the first information was again put.

Mr. Brown said he proposed now to test the witness’s credit, by showing that his mind was affected by statements made by others, and these others, persons interested in the claim.

Judge Kane overruled the question because the answer could not affect his judgment upon the subject in course of investigation.

The witness resumed—Some two or three dozen were with us when we found the woman; it was an hour or two after we found the boy; when we took the boy he drew a knife and tried to cut his way.

Nicholas Hutchins testified to the identity of Henry and Ellen, […] slaves of Mr. Perdue.

Cross examined.—I know of a sale of slaves on the farm by J. Perdue, about a year ago; it was not these slaves; when we found the woman, […..] of the witnesses who have been examined were present; I know her by her countenance; I have seen the boy, I have no real recollection of him; I would know him by his appearance and countenance.  The evidence for the claimant here closed.

The case of the respondents was opened by Leonard Myers, Esq.  He said he would show that the respondents are free, by witnesses who have known them for years.  He would also show that the claimant had acknowledged all the property on his plantation was the joint possession of his brother and himself, slaves included.

Leonard A. Williams, a colored man, sworn,–I have lived in Columbia since 1843; am a plasterer; I have worked as a cedar-cooper; and have taught Sabbath school’s […. ….]; belong to the Baptists; I know these persons, not as Ellen and Henry, but Hannah and Dick; I recollect Dick from the first part of 1847; we were trying to get up a little exhibition in the Baptist church; he came in there with the other boys; I recollect I first saw him in 1846, about the close of the holidays that I first saw him; we did not get up the exhibition; I recollects perfectly that I noted down the [……] in my book; I did not put down Dick in my book, but recollect he was practicing  if he could stand up before an audience; I recollect at the time we tried to practice we tried to keep others away from seeing; it raised a disturbance on the outside and some of the children broke the windows; I recollect Dick was among the children practicing; after that, I saw Dick frequently tried to get him in [….] in school.  The witness produced the book having memorandum of the practice at the School.  December 27, 1846.  The memorandum was made at the time.  The book commences March 15, 1846.

The witnesses said Dick was a little bashful when he first came before the audience; my wife and myself particularly noticed him on that account, taking a particular interest in him; he was then six or seven years old; we had some boys four years old preparing for the exhibition, he came in often to school; afterwards did not come as frequently ; he was there off and on all 1847; sometimes […. …. …] the door, and I went out and tried to persuade him to come in; he lived with Mr. Armstrong, with whose little boy he attended school; afterwards he lived with Charles Clark; in February, 1848, I saw him at a place where I was plastering for Spangler & Co. ; I asked him to bring in some mortar for me; he said he was then working with Mr. Armstrong; Mr. Armstrong died, I recollect, when I was working for Spangler & Co ; I saw Dick after that and he was with Mr. Clark; I have a memorandum of the of the time I worked for Spangler & Co; I looked at it yesterday; I know the woman; I first saw her about the end of 1846; I had seen her but did not at first know her name; she was nursing an old woman named Eleanor Haydn; she lived there with Haydn; I saw her often afterwards on Tow Hill ; have seen her, frequently since; I have no doubt of her identity; I have no doubt that I saw her and her boy before that; in the fall of 1849 I had a cataract in my eye; it came in June, 1849; I had to give up teaching in consequence; I saw Dick before I got the cataract, I am certain; I went to teaching again in the latter part of the year; I am convinced it was before that I saw Dick; because we have not tried to get up an exhibition since I had the cataract.

Cross-examined—I was born in Worcester county, Maryland; I was born a slave for a term of years; was freed in 1836 and left in 1838; afterwards lived in Baltimore; and went to Columbia in 1843; Dick could not read at the time of the exhibition, he did not speak at it; but only at the practicing; I understood that Dick and his mother come from below Lancaster; I did know that she had other children.  The witness said that Mr. Haydn died three years ago, about the time of the exhibition, which was put off on account of it.  On being cross examined he insisted that Mrs. Haydn had died about three years ago, although the exhibition was in January 1847.  The dates did not correspond with the previous evidence he had given.  He said that Mr. Armstrong died about a year after Mrs. Haydn; Mrs. Haydn was sick about eighteen months.  The exhibition was postponed on account of her sickness or death.

Albert G. Stevens, sworn—I live in Philadelphia; I have seen Williams, the first witness, in Columbia, at various times; I lived in Columbia from the 8th of July, 1847, until about fourteen months ago; I have seen this boy (Dick) in Columbia; I saw him nearly every day after I went there; all the fall of 1847; I left Columbia in the fall of 1849; I saw Dick all the time I lived there pretty much; I saw the boy here on Saturday; I picked him out and spoke to him the minute I saw him, and asked him what he was doing here; I did not know they had him under arrest at that time; I saw the boy often playing about at our house; I was an agent on the cars at the time; I am now on the Marshal’s police; I have seen this woman (Hannah) in Columbia since I lived there was; I was in the neighborhood of two years ago he died; he drove one of the teams connected with the cars; I have no doubt whatever but that I saw both these persons almost daily while I lived in Columbia, since 1847.

Cross-examined—I never spoke to this woman so far as I know; I have seen her often and have no doubt of her being the same person; I have seen her in the streets of Columbia; I have spoken to the boy at different times; he went by the name of Dick about there; I have seen him playing about there with Mr. Armstrong’s boy; I saw the woman very often, so often that I got to know her well by sight; I never heard her name in Columbia; I do not know that this boy is her son.

Jane B. Clark, colored woman, sworn—I live in Columbia; have kept house for the last ten years; I have lived there twenty years; I know Mrs. Bundy; she is alive and a neighbor; we lived in Elbow st between Fifth and Sixth; I have known this woman and boy for the last three years; my first acquaintance with her was in 1847, when she came to me to board; I knew Mrs. Haydn, Mr. Bundy is her son-in-law.  Mrs. Haydn died in Jan. 1848, Hannah came up to my house in October, 1847; She went by the name of Hannah Dellam; the boy, Richard Dellam, stayed with me a year after his mother left me in 1847; I have no doubt either about the woman or boy ; I have seen them frequently ; they lived about a square and a half from where I lived; I am certain I have known them since 1847; I think Armstrong died before Mrs. Haydn; I am not confident of that.

Cross examined—I am thirty-two years old; I remember that Mrs. Haydn died while I was at a festival in Little York, in 1848; when I came back Mrs. Haydn was dead.

The witness was then cross examined at great length as to when her children were born and when they died.  She would not answer positively because she had not the record of their births and deaths with her.

Being re examined—she went through the account of the birth of her children very clearly, stating as nearly as she could, but not answering positively; she said that she had taken record of her family matters and did not like to answer without having consulted it, and could tell exactly.  When she came back form Little York at the festival, Mrs. Haydn was dead and this woman Hannah attending on her.  Witness recollects that Mrs. Haydn was very sick when she went to the festival; she took her leave of her before she went.  The witness having said that Hannah came to her house in October, that she stayed there three months, and went to Mrs. Hayden’s in the spring of 1848, was asked how she could reconcile that with her declaration that Mrs. Hayden died in January 1848.  She said that by the spring she meant she left her after the holiday in 1847; so Christmas had taken place between the time Hannah had left her, and the festival to which witness went at York.  The case was then continued until the morning.


Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, March 12, 1851

The Fugitive Slave Case.

            UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.—Judge Kane—The hearing in the case of the two alleged fugitive slaves Hannah and Dick Dellam, was resumed this morning.  The testimony for the prisoners given yesterday afternoon, after we went to press, was of the same character as to the time the prisoners were first seen in and about Columbia, Pa., as has been before given. Two witnesses were examined, who swore positively to having seen and known the alleged fugitives a year or two antecedent to November, 1849, (the time of the escape) in Columbia; but when their means of knowing the precise time came to be tested by circumstances, their testimony very much conflicted in dates, but they persisted that they saw her there in 1847.  The case has lost none of its interest.  A large number of ladies were present at the hearing to day, and the assemblage of colored persons in and about the hall was also large.  The Marshal’s Police force were in attendance, and not the slightest disorder prevailed.

Elszabeth Gael, sworn—I live in Broad street; I have lived in Columbia; I lived there in 1847; I continued to live there until 1850; I lived in Second street near to the Union Pike; I kept house while there; I have seen both the prisoners before; I first saw them in October 1847; I saw them in Columbia; I became acquainted with her at the Wesleyan Methodist Quarterly meeting; I was introduced to her; I saw her at the neighbors; I saw her also at Mrs. Haden’s while she was sick; she was moving her; Mrs. Haden died in January; the latter end of January; it was in Mrs. Haden’s last March when I saw her (Hannah) there; I saw Hannah there about the beginning of the month of January; Mr and Mrs Bandey were living in the house with Mrs. Haden; I saw Hannah first in October ’47 and Mrs Haden in January ’48; I am sure it was not 1849; after the death of Mrs. Headen I frequently saw her; I came here on the 28th of June, 1850; the reason I fix October for the meeting of the church is, because it took place just one month after I moved there; the reason I fix Jaanuary, 1848, for the death of Mrs Headen is, because at the time there was a festival at little York, and there were several of her friends who would like to have gone, but did not go on account of her being so ill; I had a child who was sick at that time, and he will be 4 years of age on the 22d of March coming; I know Mrs. Clark; I knew her at the time of Mrs. Haden’s death; I have seen Hannah at Mrs. Clark’s; I don’t know what she was doing there; I saw her there before the death of Mrs Haden; I saw the boy directly after I moved to Columbia; he was playing about with the children; he went by the name of Dick; I have no doubt that is Dick I speak of; I saw him hundreds of times; I have seen him at Mrs Clarks; I remember having seen Dick after the death of Mrs Haden.

Cross Examined—I live in Columbia about 3 years and a half; I have talked with Hannah Dallem; she does not either stammer nor stutter; she speaks distinctly; I talked to her about the sickness of Mrs. Haden; that is principally the conversation I had with her; I never asked her where she came from; I never heard; I never hold any conversation with Dick, any more than when he would come to buy anything I would sell it to him; he would often come to buy cakes and candies; I left Columbia on the 28th day of last June, I saw Hannah within the last month at my shop ; the last time I saw Hannah was at a meeting; I read the papers yesterday containing the examination; I read Mr. Stephen’s examination; I have never been to Columbia since I left  it with my family ; I am a volunteer witness; I called at Mr. Pierce’s office to tell him that I could be a witness; I saw several persons there.

Questions by the Judge—I lived in Eight street when I was married, at Mrs. Danville’s; after I was married I lived in Powell street below Sixth; I had one child while there;; I had two children there; I then moved in Portland Lane; I had no children while away; I then moved to Canada; I had no children while away; I came back to Philadelphia and lived in Little Pine street; I had a child while I lived in Little Pine street; I then moved to Russell street; I had one child while there; I then went to Columbia.

Questions by D. P. Brown, esq—I have no interest in this woman any more than I would have in any body else.

Godfrey Keebler, sworn, (white man.)—I live in Philadelphia; I came here last October: I was a baker while there; I lived in Front street; I continued being in the same street, though not always in the same house; I knew the people pretty generally in Columbia; I recollect distinctly seeing the boy two years ago last Christmas; I have no doubt about it; I fix that time because the colored boy had the habit of coming to me for Christmas presents, and upon that occasion I accused him of coming more than once on that day, and it was the Christmas before my first wife died; she died one the 4th of May, 1849; I saw him almost daily; I don’t remember what they called him; I can’t be mistaken in him at all; he used to be with Armstrong’s boy ; subsequently saw the woman in the streets passing my house; I saw the account of this arrest in Saturday’s paper; I believe I know by sight every colored boy in Colombia; the first I saw of that boy was this morning when I came into court; I asked permission of you (D. P. Brown, Esq.,) to see the boy; that is the woman I saw in Columbia; I can’t say exactly when it was I first saw her; I know Stephens, Clark and his wife, and Elizabeth Gael; I don’t know where Dick was staying; I saw him frequently along the railroad with Charles Clark and Armstrong; Dick used to ride the horses on the road; I was married the second time on last November a year; I saw Dick before my second marriage; I was married on the 17th of November; I know Bunday; he live in Columbia; I knew Mr. Armstrong; he is dead; I think he died two years last February or somewhere thereabouts; I know Mr. Strickler.

Cross-examined—I was born in Germany; I arrived in this country in September 1832; I was married when I went to Columbia; I  did not know any colored woman by the name of Hannah Dallem in Columbia; I knew very few colored women by their names; I never spoke to this colored woman, to my knowledge; I can’t tell about the time I first saw her; I saw her frequently in the summer and spring of ’50; I can’t say, on my oath, that I saw her in 1849; I never had any conversation with the boy.  The first time I saw Richard was last Christmas two years ago; I could not be positive that is was last Christmas one year ago; I saw the boy in the summer of 1849; nothing but humanity induced me to become a witness, and nothing in the shape of dollars and cents; I never said that I was offered $200 to testify in the case; there is nothing peculiar about the boy, any more then he is very impudent and saucy.  There is nothing else remarkable about him.

Questions by the Judge—The last Christmas before I came to this city, the boys troubled me as usual about their presents; I do not recollect seeing this boy among the rest; I can’t say that I had not seen him before the Christmas when he came for a present; I recollect on the Christmas day, that he was accompanied by a mulatto boy and another who was remarkable for having a dirty face and nose; I recollect seeing them frequently after that.

No particular occurrence took place on the last Christmas, that is the reason I cannot remember whether he was there or not; Dick came rather late in the day on the Christmas of 1848, that is the reason I remember it; I gave several hundred cakes out; these two last Christmasses I gave each two or three cakes; sometimes they called more than one; such boys were from 16 or 18 years of age down to those who could hardly walk; the last Christmas day (when I was in Columbia,) was very cold and clear; It was cloudy last Christmas day.

Re-examined by Mr. Brown—I watched the boys when they came for the cakes, because they would take what did not belong to them ; when my wife was lying ill I did not belong to them ; when my wife was lying ill I had a little girl to attend the shop, who was considerably annoyed by this boy and a number of others who would come into the shop during the day ; he used to be in the habit of coming with a boy named Armstrong ; this boy was notorious for his impudence and annoying conduct ; whenever the boys would see me coming, they would run our and would try to catch Dick for the purpose flogging him ; he came to my shop, with little Armstrong, after the death of Mr. Armstrong ; Mr. A. died in February, 1849.

[Examination still proceeding.]


Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, March 13, 1851

MOB AT THE STATE HOUSE—NEGROES ARRESTED WITH DEADLY WEAPONS.—The hearing of the slave case in the United States District Court, yesterday, drew a large crowd of colored people who remained in groups in the immediate vicinity of Independence Hall all day.  At dark, the Square was cleared by the Marshal’s police, and the gates closed.  Turned out of the State House yard, the negroes collected in front of the Hall, on Chestnut street.

About nine o’clock, the sidewalk along the Row became obstructed very much, and the assemblage of negroes increasing every minute, Lt. Ellis, acting Marshal of Police, (Marshal Keyser being absent from the city) ordered the mob to be dispersed.  The order was promptly executed by the officers without difficulty.

A short time afterwards, a number of riotously disposed blacks—most of them young men and half grown boys—returned, and standing in small groups in the vicinity of Fifth and Chesnut, and Sixth and Chesnut, and Sixth and Walnut streets, gave the police some trouble; and some dozen of them were arrested, and locked up.  Nearly every one of the prisoners was found to be armed with deadly weapons.

The following were the most important arrests made ; John Simpson, a black boy, arrested by officer Thomas Reynolds, of the S. W. City Division, lurking in Independence Square, after the closing of the gates.  He had climbed over the railing.  A murderour slung shot was taken from him.  Jesse Wilson, a black man, was arrested by officer Francis Hunter, of the Southwark Division, for disorderly conduct in Sixth Street, above Walnut.  Found on his person a butcher knife, a razor and a cane.  John Rhoad, a lad, arrested by officer S. Hickman, of the Spring Garden Division, for using threatening and violent language, calculated to excite a riot.  Taken into custody in Sixth street, below Chesnut.  Took from his person a long dirk knife.

Richard Brown, arrested by officer Edgar, of the Southwark Division, in Chesnut street above Fifth, for refusing to disperse, when ordered to do so.  Was armed with a large stick.  George Houston, arrested by officer George Dubacee, of Southwark, at the same place, for the same offence.  Samuel Sampson, arrested by officer Hunter, in front of Independence Hall, for refusing to disperse.  A dirk knife and a club were found on him.  Thomas Ryan arrested at 10 ½ o’clock, in Chesnut street above Fifth, by officer John S Magee, of the Southwark Division, for inciting to riot.  He was armed with a short heavy hickory bludgeon and a jack knife.

This morning five of the prisoners : Wilson, Brown, Sampson, Houston, and Ryan, had a hearing before Ald. McKinley, and were committed in default of $500 bail each to answer the charge of carrying concealed deadly weapons.  Rhoad was brought before Ald. Ogle this forenoon, and was committed in default of $500 bail on the same charge.  Simpson was sent to prison by Ald. White.  The rest of the prisoners were discharged at the Marshal’s office with a reprimand.


Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, March 13, 1851

The Fugitive Slave Case.

            U. S. DISTRICT COURT—Judge Kane.  The fugitive slave case, which has been before this Court since Saturday last, the proceedings of which have been daily published, was brought to a conclusion last night, a few minutes before 12 o’clock.

The testimony for the claimant, given yesterday afternoon, after we went to press, was clear and conclusive.  It could leave no doubt on the mind as to the prisoners, Hannah and Dick, (who were really name Ellen and Henry, ) being the fugitive slaves of John Perdu, of Baltimore.

The counsel commenced their arguments at about 8 o’clock last evening and concluded before 11 at night.

Judge Kane reviewed the testimony at great length, and pointed out the discrepancies and contradictions in that for the defence.  It was there alleged, that Hannah and Dick had worked for various white persons in Columbia, previous to the time of their alleged escape from Maryland.  Why had they not been brought here to testify?  And why was not the pastor of the Methodist Church, she was said to have visited so regularly before 1849, subpoenaed here to substantiate this assertion?  The objection that she could not be removed from this State while in her pregnant condition, he considered unsound in law.  The master had the same right over his slave, that a father would have over his daughter, if she were in a pregnant condition and illegally held from his custody.  The fact of her pregnancy would not prevent the father from recovering the possession and custody of his child.  He reviewed this point at some length, and concluded by remanding the alleged fugitives to the keeping of their mast, and gave him a certificate to that effect.

This morning they were escorted to the cares by a large force of the Marshal’s Police, and safely placed with, and no doubt by this time, they are within the jurisdiction of the Baltimore Courts.  Very few persons followed the fugitives to the cars, and not the slightest disturbance occurred.  A detachment of the Marshal’s policed accompanied the fugitives to Gray’s Ferry.


Pennsylvania Freeman, March 20, 1851

The Slave Case Concluded—The Victims doomed and sent to their fate!

The case of Hannah Dellam and her son—claimed as the human “property of a Maryland slave-holder—pending before the U. S. District Court, at the time our last issue went to press, was concluded late on Wednesday night, and the mother and her boy and unborn babe, were delivered up to their terrible doom.

That dark blood-stain is fixed upon the court, the city and the nation.  The dragon Law howled for its prey, and mother and son and unborn infant were seized by its ministers and thrust into its devouring jaws, to whet its sateless appetite for other victims.  These ministers of a merciless law, have stained their hands with innocent blood, and as surely as that God’s justice is unfailing, and retribution follows wrong, they have laid up for their future a fund of sorrow and remorse.

Lamentable as is the fate of the slave mother and child, we would rather endure their doom, than bear the responsibility of inflicting it.  The deed of murder upon both had been merciful compared with it.  That would have released the sufferers from torture and fears and sent them to endless freedom and peace.  This sends them to a life of sorrows, to bear insult and wrong, and agonies through weary years, with no hope but death.

On Wednesday, subsequent to our report last week, several other witnesses from Columbia were introduced, who confirmed in a straight-forward and apparently truthful manner, the previous testimony that the defendants had been in Columbia earlier than 1849.

This testimony was met by rebutting evidence, showing that several of the witnesses for the defense had mistaken and important date by which they attempted to fix the time of their acquaintance with the defendants; and also by testimony to prove that the mother and boy had admitted that they were the slaves of the claimant.—This evidence was contested by Mr. Brown; who urged, first, that the testimony offered was evidence in chief, and could not be introduced at that stage of the case.—Second, that the testimony was not in rebuttal of any offered by the defense ; and third, that it was not competent either as  original or suppletory evidence, inasmuch as the testimony of a slave, according to Southern law, could not be taken, either for or against his master ; as the claimants asserted that the prisoners were slaves, they should be held to their own positions, and not be permitted to treat them as free, to make them slaves.

Judge Kane overruled these objections ; but upon the examination of the witnesses, it appeared that the admissions of the prisoners were made while in duress, in the hands of their hunters.  Mr. Brown again objected to the testimony on that ground.  This point was also overruled by the Court, after ascertaining tha the admissions were made under no direct threats or promises.

Solomon Duck., Jacob Strine and Charles Strine—all of whom were in that valorous “posse” of patriotic hunters, who pursued and captured a little boy and a poor washwoman—were then introduced, and swore that the boy Dick, while in the grip of his captors, was asked by his master why he had run away, and if he had not always been treated kindly?  dick replied, “Because you licked me so much.  You used to tie me up and whip me with a cowhide.”  one of these slave-catcher’s underlings was the first to seize Dick, and he testified that the boy resisted and struggled violently and even drew his knife and cut at him ; thus showing by their own testimony, the inhuman cruelty of the master, and the child’s love of liberty.

Thomas Perdu, the brother of the claimant, who was also one of the chivalrous hunters, swore that Hannah had admitted to him, after her capture, that she ran away from the claimant, giving as her reason her fears of being sold to the South.

The whole description of the seizure and arrest of the captives, as given by the captives themselves, was ruffianly and brutal, reminding one of another “legal” arrest in old times, where “a great multitude went out with swords and staves to take” the innocent, and give him into the hands of his enemies.

On Wednesday evening, the testimony was closed, and Mr. Lee, the counsel for the claimant, proposed submitting the case to the Judge without argument.

Mr. Brown said he had resolved never to abandon a case when either life or liberty was at stake, and declined the offer.

The case was them argued by Mr. Bennett, the associate counsel for the claimant , and Messrs. Ludlow and Brown for the defense.  Mr. Brown’s plea was earnest, argumentative, and eloquent, in every way worthy of his cause and high reputation.

After remarking upon the importance of the case, not only as involving the freedom of the other and her son, but that of a child begotten in Freedom, whose eyes were yet to open upon the light of liberty or the darkness of slavery, Mr. B continued : If this woman were proved to be a slave, what, under the law, is the power of the court /. Can you bury the quick and the dead I the same grave ?  What power have you to consign a free child to slavery, to satisfy a claim to a slave ?  You have power only to return the slave that has run away, the “fugitive from labor.”  Is this child a “fugitive from labor” in Maryland, when the plaintiff avers that the mother came to Pennsylvania in 1849?

It might be a nice question were the child conceived in Slavery, and brought, before birth, into a free State, but how can a child begotten in a Free State, months after the escape of the mother, be embraced under a law for the return of fugitive slaves ?  It has been decided by Judge Washington, one of the most illustrious Judges of the Supreme Court that the progeny of a slave mother begotten in freedom is free.  The same principle has been decided in Alabama and other Southern Courts.  Where you could sever them, as after birth you may do it ; but where you cannot sever them, the right of the free must overbear the claim to the Slave.  If you cannot take the pound of flesh without a drop of blood, you cannot take it all.  Even Shylock lost his claim by this principle.  Where to do a right you must do a great wrong, your hand is stayed.  Were this woman capitally convicted, sentence would be suspended till after the birth of her babe.  Were she sentenced to death, executive reprieve would stay the execution.  This is not a question of death, it is true.  It might be better for the doomed if it were.

Penal statutes must be construed strictly in favor of mercy, and what law is more severely penal than one which consigns a human being to endless slavery ?  The law provides for no delay;  its execution must be summary.  It has therefore made no provision for such case as this.  it is enough that we stand by it as it is.  There is nothing in it to con sign the free to interminable bondage, to gratify the overweening rapacity of a company of slave hunters.—The deficiency in the statute should go to the benefit of mercy.

But the woman is not proved to be a slave.  Every man here is presumed to be free until proved a slave.  The learned counsel for the claimant has attempted to discredit our witnesses because the most of them are colored persons.  Sir, I rank no man’s veracity by his size or color.  Is not this a monstrous and doughfaced doctrine, that color has any thin to do with the credibility of testimony ?  if that is the doctrine of our Courts, this is a slave state—infested with the worst of slavery, the slavery of cowardice.  How are we to prove a claim to freedom ?  Are we to expect miraculous evidence, to look for the angel Gabriel to come down to save men from slavery ?  Shall we got to high and aristocratic whites, who neither would know or care for humble colored men ?  Who but colored witnesses would best know and could best prove the condition of colored persons ?

“Perhaps these witnesses were themselves fugitive slaves,” says the learned counsel.  “ Perhaps!  We would remind the counsel that we do not ‘perhaps’ away freedom here, it must be proved away.  But if our witnesses are mostly colored, theirs are all white, and have moreover not only the sympathy of caste but of kith and kin, the ties of blood and prejudice, to warp their judgment and blind their perceptions.”

Mr. Brown then went into a somewhat elaborate review of the evidence in the case, and while admitting some mistakes on the part of some of the witnesses for the defense, urged that it was sufficient to throw at least a strong doubt upon the claim, and that this doubt should be given to the benefit of mercy and freedom.

Judge Kane prevented the closing plea of Mr. Lee for the claimant, by intimating that his mind was already made up to decide in his favor.  He remarked that he had been painfully struck with the general and absorbing interest which this trial had excited throughout its progress.  He had seen trials where life, or liberty, or reputation was at stake, trials of well known and established citizens, when the Court-room was almost empty, with the exception of officers and witnesses engaged in the trial.  He did not complain of this public interest.  The public administration of justice was its safeguard.

The Judge went on to review the leading points of the evidence upon both sides, and the legal points in the counsel’s argument, and decided that the claimants had proven their title to, and the escape of, certain slaves, and the identity of the prisoners as a part of those fugitive slaves.  The evidence of the claimant preponderated over that of the defense, and this was a question to be settled by preponderance of evidence.  He also decided that birth settled condition, and that before parturition the child was in the condition of the mother; that the arrested fugitive was in the hands of the master, even though held by legal officers, and his rights were not affected by the pregnancy of the fugitive.

The Judge also intimated, very gratuitously as it seemed to us and to others, that the offspring of the fugitive, born after recaption by the master, and while the mother was detained in Pennsylvania against his consent, would be a slave.

This decision was a surprise and a bitter disappointment, we believe, to the great body of the intelligent audience who heard it, as it will be to thousands of our most humane and intelligent citizens who shall read it.  Not that the proof of escape and identity was considered insufficient, but that that unborn child was given, with its mother, into the clutches of the merciless claimants, to be consigned to life long slavery, and especially at the final intimation that a child actually born in Pennsylvania of a captured mother, would be a slave. If this last was not a direct denial of his own statement, that “birth settled condition, that liberty was a birth-right”—we do not comprehend that statement. We regard the main decision, delivering a mother and babe to the claimant, dooming a child begotten in freedom to hopeless slavery, as a gratuity to the vultures of the slave-market.

It is doing more than the Fugitive Law itself requires. It is giving Shylock’s bond a liberal construction against mercy, telling him, in the face of the old precedent, to cut his pound of flesh and take the blood with it. More than this, to execute the cruel purpose “summarily,” it disregards a judicial precedent in our own Courts, (urged by the prisoner’s Counsel,) which had already settled the right and duty of the Court to detain a fugitive slave mother in Pennsylvania until the birth of her child; and it hurries both mother and babe off to the slave prison and Slave Market.

The thanks of the friends of humanity are due to the Counsel who so generously volunteered to defend the prisoners in their helplessness and grief; and who labored with untiring fidelity to save their poor clients from the slave-hunter’s grasp, and our city from the dishonor which has fallen upon it.

            Of the claimant’s senior Counsel, who had the whole management of his cause, we may say that he seemed in most respects well qualified for his business, of Slave Catcher’s Attorney. He is sufficiently adroit, shrewd, keen of sight and scent, and pertinacious in pursuit, with no hampering and intrusive scruples of conscience or humanity, or peculiar sensitiveness of feeling, or anticipations of a coming retribution to check him in his chosen work. Like his more sensitive predecessor who “went and hanged himself,” he doubtless has his reward. His colleague was a young man who looked worthy of a better business, and yet did not seem to have the excuse of starvation for engaging in this.

Pennsylvania Freeman, March 27, 1851


For Pennsylvania Freeman.

LINES ADDRESSED TO DAVID PAUL BROWN upon his efforts in the late trial of Hannah and Richard Dellam as fugitive slaves.

Champion of Freedom, Justice, and of Right !

Our hearts are filled with gratitude to thee ;

For thou hast battled bravely, and with might,

To save the victims struggling to be free.


We thank thee for that effort; though ‘twas vain,

To thee we would no less a willing tribute pay ;

For well we know the suffering and pain

Thy noble spirit felt, when Freedom prostrate lay.


We need not urge thee still to labor on,

Thou couldst not banish mercy from thy heart ;

She bids thee labor to subdue all wrong ;

In Freedom’s battle fearlessly to bear thy part.



The Fugitive Slave Case.—The case of the colored woman and child, noticed on Saturday, who were arrested on Friday last, at Columbia, Pa., has not yet been heard.  A habeas corpus was issued by Judge Kane, at the instance of the alleged fugitives, which removed the case from U. S. Commisioner Ingraham.  The Court being occupied during the day, in the argument of a patent case, the hearing of the slave case was adjourned until this morning, by consent of counsel.  The persons claimed called themselves Hannah Dellam and Henry Dellam.  The claimant, John Perdue of Baltimore County, Md., alleges that they are Helen and Dick, his slaves, who escaped in 1849, together with the father and three other children.  Warrants were issued for the whole family, but the others eluded the pursuers.  The woman was arrested while washing at a house under which she was employed; the boy was secreted under some hay in a barn.  The woman is far advanced in a state of pregnancy, and it is thought that a question may arise whether she ought to be yielded up to the claimant in her present condition, if it should be proved she is a runaway.  If the child is born in Maryland, it will follow the conditions of the mother.  If, on the contrary, it is born here, it will be free.  There was the usual attendance of white and colored spectators at the Court room, but no interference with the course of law was manifested.  J. D. Bennett represented the claimant; W. S. Pierce, D. P. Brown and others, the alleged fugitives.

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