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Old November 5th, 2012, 05:32 AM   #11
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Reverend James Gilliland

James Gilliland was a South Carolina minister who preached against slavery and in favor of emancipation. This eventually turned his congregation against him, and he ended up leaving South Carolina and forming his own church in Red Oak, Ohio (just a few miles north of Ripley) in 1806. During his time in Ohio he would hold abolitionist rallies and assist his Ripley neighbors in harboring hundreds of fugitive slaves in his home and his church.
My 4th Great Grandfather was a Reverend James Gilliland. Obviously not the same person but I wonder if they were kinfolk.
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Old November 5th, 2012, 02:31 PM   #12

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The House on Liberty Hill


By 1829, John Rankin had become well known as a conductor on the Underground Railroad. Consequently his house on Front Street was usually the first visited by slavecatchers when they came searching for their quarry, often in the middle of the night. The Rankins decided this was no environment in which to raise the 9 children they had at that time, so they decided to move up to the top of the 540 foot high bluff overlooking Front Street. (As we shall see in a later post, the decision came close to getting them all killed at one point.)

Click the image to open in full size.

They bought a 65 acre farm there with a commanding view of Front Street and its alleys, and a 5-mile vista of the Ohio River and the opposite bank in Kentucky. Here they built a house that was also clearly visible from Kentucky. The Rankins also lit a lantern every night which could be seen from Kentucky and which many fugitive slaves used to guide them to the house. There seems to be some controversy whether the lantern was in the window of the house, or on a 30 foot pole the Rankins had near the house. There also seems to be some controversy whether the lantern was always lit, or if it was extinguished when there was a danger from slavecatchers.

It was a 2-story house with several small rooms upstairs, including secret rooms to hide away fugitive slaves. To help fugitive slaves climb the hill from the streets below, Rankin built a series of stone steps all the way up the 540 foot high bluff, which came to be known as "Liberty Hill".

The house is now a museum and a National Historic Landmark. Many of the stone steps still exist today, although a large section has been replaced with a wooden staircase. I took a tour of the house last month, complete with climbing the steps from the very bottom to the very top. The thought of doing this at night (when almost all fugitive slave movement occurred), and possibly carrying a child at the same time, was daunting.

Below are some pictures I took of the steps and the vista:
Attached Images
File Type: jpg RankinStairsBottom.jpg (95.1 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg RankinStairsFromBottom.jpg (81.2 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg RankinStairsWooden.jpg (59.9 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg RankinStairsFromSide.jpg (97.5 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg RankinStairsFromTop.jpg (94.7 KB, 3 views)

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Old November 5th, 2012, 02:38 PM   #13

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Rankin's Letters on Slavery


As mentioned previously, Reverend Rankin published a book that contained the letters he wrote to his slaveholding brother imploring him to free his slaves. This book became a major spark to the national abolitionist movement. Here are some excerpts from that book:

pp. iii - i:

Quote:
THE following Letters were originally designed for the benefit of the Brother to whom they were addressed. For his convenience they were inserted in the [local newspaper], and by that means were first brought to public view.

The solicitations of a few friends, in connection with the desire of aiding and encouraging every effort for the liberation of the enslaved and degraded Africans, were the means of bringing them before the public a second time, and in another form.

They have received several alterations and additions. And some efforts have been made to render the work more complete than it was in its original form, but still, it is far from possessing that excellence of composition which the importance of its subject requires. Therefore, it is desired that its imperfections may be attributed to the weakness of its author, and not to that of the cause it is intended to support.

But little can reasonably be hoped in relation to the success of this work, when it is considered that, in addition to the difficulties arising from its own imperfections, it must bear the charge of fanaticism, and contend with prejudices that have been rapidly increasing for ages. In opposition to it, more than ten thousand envenomed tongues, and pens dipt in the gall of unrelenting avarice, may be expected to plead the cause of injustice.

These difficulties, however, should be considered as so many arguments in favor of the work. If but a little good can be done, it is the more necessary that that little should be done. That involuntary slavery is a very dangerous evil, and that our nation is involved in it, none can, with truth, deny. And that the safety of our government, and the happiness of its subjects, depend upon the extermination of this evil, must be obvious to every enlightened mind. Nor is it less evident, that it is the duty of every citizen, according to his station, talents and opportunity, to use suitable exertions for the abolition of an evil which is pregnant with the growing principles of ruin. Surely, no station should be unimproved, no talent, however small, should be buried, nor should any opportunity of doing good be lost, when the safety of a vast nation, and the happiness of millions of the human family, demand prompt and powerful exertions. Everything that can be done, either by fair discussion, or by any other lawful means, ought to be done, and done speedily, in order to avert the hastening ruin that must otherwise soon overtake us!

Let all the friends of justice and suffering humanity, do what little they can, in their several circles, and according to their various stations, capacities and opportunities; and all their little streams of exertion will, in process of time, flow together, and constitute a mighty river that shall sweep away the yoke of oppression, and purge our nation from the abominations of slavery.
pp. 5-6:

Quote:
MY DEAR BROTHER:

I received yours of the 2d December, with mingled sensations of pleasure and pain; it gave me pleasure to hear of your health, and pain to hear of your purchasing slaves. I consider involuntary slavery a never-failing fountain of the grossest immorality, and one of the deepest sources of human misery; it hangs like the mantle of night over our republic, and shrouds its rising glories.


I sincerely pity the man who tinges his hand in the unhallowed thing that is fraught with the tears, and sweat, and groans, and blood of hapless millions of innocent, unoffending people.

A mistaken brother, who has manifested to me a kind and generous heart, claims my strongest sympathies. When I see him involved in what is both sinful and dangerous, shall I not strive to liberate him? Does he wander from the paths of rectitude, and shall not fraternal affection pursue, and call him from the verge of ruin and the unperceived precipice of wo, to the fair and pleasant walks of piety and peace? Shall I suffer sin upon my brother? No—his kindness to me forbids it, fraternal love forbids it, and what is still more to be regarded, the law of God forbids it. Though he has wandered for the moment, may I not hope to show him his error, and restrain his wanderings?

Under such views and feelings, I have resolved to address you, in a series of letters, on the injustice of enslaving the Africans. This I hope you will receive as an expression of fraternal affection, as well as of gratitude to you for former favors. I entreat you to give me that candid attention which the fondness of a brother solicits, and the importance of the subject demands...
pp. 19- 20:

Quote:
MY DEAR BROTHER:

As involuntary slavery is opposed to all the original properties of human nature, it may be expected to involve its subjects in a vast variety of the most serious evils. And some of these, according to an intimation given in my last, I am now to point out more fully than the limits of the preceding letter would permit me to do. And this I do in order to illustrate and enforce those arguments against slavery, which arise from the nature of man.

The first evil I shall mention as resulting from a state of mancipation [slavery], is that of gross ignorance. It must be obvious to every one capable of reflection, that a variety of circumstances combine to deprive slaves of the means of mental improvement. They are chained down to a life of laborious servitude, without the hope of release; and the gloomy prospect of such a life sinks every rising hope, cuts off every inducement to literary enterprise, and totally indisposes the mind to the labor of acquiring useful knowledge. And of such indisposition, gross ignorance is the certain result. Hence were the means of instruction afforded them, they would in many cases prove entirely unsuccessful. But we often find on the part of the master still less inclination to afford such means, than there is in the slave to improve them when afforded. The education of slaves must be attended with much loss of labor as well as considerable expense, and this is very inconsistent with the main object of their mancipation [enslavement]...
pp. 31-32:

Quote:
DEAR BROTHER:

The longer I reflect upon involuntary slavery, the more I abhor it, as being a combination of the most flagrant injustice and cruelty. It makes an innocent man the property of another, who may, if he please, deprive him of all the comforts of life, and subject him to a thousand sufferings. This appears to me as most unjust and cruel, when I consider that the very best of men are fallen creatures, and, as such, naturally disposed to tyrannize over the subjects of their power.

The history of the world is but one general display of tyrannical oppression—every nation has been made to agonize beneath the weight of cruel despotism; every sect or party, that has in any age been vested with absolute power, whether civil or ecclesiastical, has manifested a strong tendency towards tyranny.

Indeed such corrupt tendency marks the whole character of a fallen man, and is often displayed where the God of nature seems to have placed the strongest guard against it—parents frequently break over the strong barrier of natural affection, and oppress their own offspring.

It is true that some men are more humane than others, yet even such are liable to tyrannize, in some instances, over the subjects of their power...
pp. 108-109:

Quote:
... Now, my dear brother, I think I have clearly shown that both reason and revelation do condemn the practice of slavery. I therefore entreat you to liberate the poor Africans you have purchased, and provide for them some comfortable way of living. To have done this will give you no painful sensations upon a dying bed.

I must now close my series of letters. I hope you will receive them as so many tokens of sincere affection for you. My heart fills as I approach the closing moment. It seems as if I am about to bid you a long and uncertain farewell! All the tender scenes of our youthful days seem at once to rise to view, to awaken the softest sensibilities of nature, and excite the strongest solicitude for your happiness; while the appalling thought presses upon me that you will refuse to hear a brother's voice, the voice of reason, and what is infinitely more, the voice of God. A brother pleads with you; nature by all her tenderest sensibilities, and the God of nature, by all those heavenly sympathies that issued from a Savior's bleeding heart, plead with you to 'do justly, to love mercy,' 'and to let the oppressed go free!' And can you refuse? And if you do, I am your brother—I will not speak your doom!

FAREWELL.


THE END.
You can read the whole book here:
Letters on American Slavery (1823, 1833, 1839) by Rev. John Rankin

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Old November 8th, 2012, 03:23 PM   #14

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The movement spreads


After reading Rankin's Letters on American Slavery, William Lloyd Garrison, the Boston-area journalist, took a keen interest in abolitionism. In 1831, at the age of 25, he founded a weekly newspaper called The Liberator, devoted to the abolition of slavery. The next year he published all 37 of Rankin's letters in serial form in the second volume of the newspaper. The Liberator was never a widely subscribed newspaper (its peak circulation would be just 3,000 subscriptions), but it nevertheless was widely quoted and recognized.

In the same year that he published Rankin's letters, Garrison and a New York abolitionist named Arthur Tappan formed the American Anti-Slavery Society, with the following mission:

Quote:
The object of this Society is the entire abolition of slavery in the United States. While it admits that each State in which slavery exists, has, by the Constitution of the United States, the exclusive right to legislate in regard to its abolition in said State it shall aim to convince all our fellow-citizens, by arguments addressed to their understandings and consciences that slaveholding is a heinous crime in the sight of God, and that the duty, safety, and best interests of all concerned, require its immediate abandonment, without expatriation.

Source: The Constitution of the American Anti-Slavery Society
Rankin was invited to join and attend the charter meeting in Philadelphia, which he did. In 1834, another outspoken member of that society, Theodore Weld from Connecticut, visited Ripley and kicked off a drive to "abolitionize Ohio". He would tour the state over the next year and help form the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society and local chapters in towns across the state. By the time he was done, he would have wiped dozens of rotten eggs from his face, and Ohio would have 120 chapters with over 10,000 members. (There'll be more about Weld in the upcoming "Abolitionist towns - Cincinnati, Ohio" thread).

In 1836, the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society held a convention in Granville, in the geographic center of Ohio, where they resolved "that slavery in its nature tends to dissolve the Union, corrupt public morals and destroy that sense of right and wrong, without which liberty soon degenerates into licentiousness." (Beyond the River, p. 107) Rankin represented Ripley at the convention. Although there were several Granville residents and students present at the convention, there was also widespread disdain of the abolitionists among locals, and they were accosted by a mob who pelted them with rotten eggs.

A few months later Rankin himself would tour Ohio, as a member of one of "The Seventy" delegates sent out throughout the North to spread the word. He would increase the number of Ohio anti-slavery society chapters by 25%.

Meanwhile the American Anti-Slavery Society was rapidly growing and would claim up to 200,000 members nationwide. But just as it was picking up steam, it began to unravel. Garrison and the Boston-area abolitionists became more and more radical and started to take the society in directions that alienated most of its members. Finally in 1840 Arthur Tappan split off and formed the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, taking the vast majority of members with him. But even that didn't last long, as more and more of the abolitionists began to see political activism as the way to further their goals. Several Ripley abolitionists joined the newly formed Liberty Party, which was dedicated solely to the abolition of slavery. Ripley's transition away from the Boston abolitionists would become complete when Reverend Rankin himself joined the Liberty Party in 1843.

But in spite of their parting ways politically, Rankin and Garrison remained friends. In 1853, Garrison presented Rankin with a copy of his own writings, which he signed "Rev. John Rankin, with the profound regards and loving veneration of his anti-slavery disciple and humble co-worker in the cause of emancipation."

Other sources: William Lloyd Garrison, 1805-1879: the story of his life told by his ... - Wendell Phillips Garrison, Francis Jackson Garrison - Google Books
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Old November 10th, 2012, 02:09 PM   #15

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An amazing escape


One day in 1839 or 1840, Reverend Rankin visited Professor Calvin Stowe, a Cincinnati abolitionist, and told him and his wife, Harriet, about some of the adventures that had recently occured in Ripley. One escape story in particular caught Mrs. Stowe's attention, during which she exclaimed, "Terrible! How terrible!" Twelve years later, it would be the inspiration for one of the most dramatic episodes in her novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin. As is often the case though, truth is stranger than fiction, especially since Mrs. Stowe didn't hear about the "sequel" to the story, which occured in 1841. Here's how it all really happened:

In late February, 1838, an enslaved woman whose name we don't know, but called "Eliza" in Uncle Tom's Cabin, learned that her two year old child was about to be sold away from her. She instantly decided to take her baby and escape. She lived about 5 miles from Ripley in Kentucky, and she knew about Ripley's reputation. Near the Kentucky shore of the Ohio River she came across an old white man who assisted her. He told her that the river was frozen solid, but the ice was weak due to a recent thaw, and that it would be unsafe for her to cross. But just then they heard the barking of the pursuit dogs, and "Eliza" decided to go anyway. The old man wrapped her baby in a shawl and gave her a rail from his fence for her to use as support, and "Eliza" took off down the bank and into the river, with the dogs close behind her.

It turns out that the old man was right, and during the quarter-mile trek across the frozen river, "Eliza" broke through the ice several times, plunging into the icy water below. Each time she pushed her baby forward on the ice as she fell and used the rail to pull herself back up onto the ice, then picked up her baby and continued her journey. She finally made it to the Ohio shore, where an arm reached out from above and pulled her up the bank. It was the arm of Chancey Shaw, a slavecatcher.

But Shaw was deeply impressed with "Eliza's" heroic journey and he said, "Any woman who crossed that river carrying her baby has won her freedom." He guided her to the base of the steps leading up to the Rankin house and told her she would find refuge at the house at the top of the hill. And of course she did. The Rankins took her in, got dry clothes for her and her baby, and gave her a chance to rest. But her rest would be short. It was too dangerous for her to stay the night. Reverend Rankin called his sons down to guide her to Reverend Gilliland's. Here's part of John Rankin, Jr.'s account of the story:

Quote:
I was aroused by father calling up the stairs for Calvin and myself. I had answered that night call too many times not to know what it meant. Fugitive slaves were downstairs. Ahead of us was a long walk across the hills in the dead of night under a cold winter's sky followed by the long cold walk back home which must be made before daybreak. So we were in no pleasant mood when we came downstairs. Seated before the fire was a mulatto woman with her baby in her arms and a pile of wet woman's clothes on the hearth stones. Father who was standing on one side of the fireplace, said to us: "She's crossed the river on the ice!"

One of us exclaimed, "She couldn't!"

"But she did!" he continued.


<You can read the rest of John Jr's interesting account here: Beyond the River: The Untold Story of the Heroes of the Underground Railroad - Ann Hagedorn - Google Books >
But that's not the end of the story. What Mrs. Stowe didn't know was that after spending two years of freedom in Canada, "Eliza" returned to Ripley in July 1841 accompanied by a Canadian sailor. She had come back for her daughter and grandchildren, who were still enslaved in Kentucky. The Canadian had worked out a plan where he would hire himself out as temporary labor for the slaveholder, and in the meantime spend time in the local taverns and learn details about the local slave patrols. Then, after gaining the confidence of the slaveholder and learning the "lay of the land", he would guide "Eliza's" remaining family to the Ohio River and freedom.

Reverend Rankin tried to talk them out of the risky plan, but just like on her journey across the ice, "Eliza" had her mind set. So the Rankin boys rowed "Eliza" and the Canadian across the river one night and dropped them off on the Kentucky bank. They managed to find and free "Eliza's" family, then made their journey to the Ohio River and rowed back across the next night. Back in Ripley, they knew there would be an uproar when the slavecatchers found out about the escape, so they hid in a place where nobody would think of searching: the home of Thomas and Kitty McCague. From there they were escorted by John Rankin, Jr., Robert Poage (one of Colonel Poage's sons) and a few other Ripley boys on their journey first to the Rankin house, then northward into Highland County, from where "Eliza", her daughter, and her six grandchildren continued on their journey to Canada and freedom.
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Old November 13th, 2012, 08:46 AM   #16

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The abduction of Eliza Jane Johnson


On September 22, 1837, a black woman by the name of Eliza Jane Johnson (not to be confused with the ice crossing "Eliza") was taken captive by four slavecatchers at her home near Ripley. Mrs. Johnson was 32 years old, had lived in Ohio for at least 3 years, and was a member of the Ripley Anti-Slavery Society. She was captured in broad daylight by two Kentuckians and two Ohioans, who immediately took her to the Ohio River to cross into Kentucky. But Mrs. Johnson's screams alerted the locals, and immediately a posse of six rescuers, including Reverend Rankin's oldest son, Adam Lowry Rankin, took off after them.

They caught up with them at the river, but not in time to stop the two Kentuckians from getting away with Mrs. Johnson in a skiff. The rescuers managed to capture the two Ohioans and take them to the county jail, where they would spend the night. The next day they posted bail and fled the state.

Back in Kentucky, Mrs. Johnson also spent the night in jail (the first of many). One of the slavecatchers, a man named James Fox, claimed that Ms. Johnson was the escaped slave of his father. But the next morning his father, Arthur Fox, came to the jail and said that Ms. Johnson was not his slave. Rather than being the end of Mrs. Johnson's ordeal, however, this was just the beginning. Mrs. Johnson's jailers now insisted that Mrs. Johnson had confessed to being the slave of a New Orleans woman. She would continue to be held in jail while citizens of Ripley would wrangle with the Kentucky county court and try to get her released. On October 1, Judge Walker Reid, of Mason County, Kentucky, ruled that Mrs. Johnson would remain in jail, on the following grounds:

Quote:
"With due respect for the laws of [Ohio] which compel the master to prove his slave before he has a right to apprehend him, and makes it [illegal] to bring a black man away without that, I am bound to consider every person of colour especially of the African race of negroes a slave until the contrary is proved.

In the case of a person visibly appearing to be a negro the presumption is in this state that he is a slave and it is incumbent on him to make out his right to freedom.
But in the case of a person visibly appearing to be a white man or an Indian the presumption is that he is free and it is necessary for his adversary to show that he is a slave."


Source: Beyond the River: The Untold Story of the Heroes of the Underground Railroad - Ann Hagedorn - Google Books
Mrs. Johnson would continue to be held in jail while the New Orleans connection was checked out. The Ripley men returned home dejected, but determined to continue the fight. They assembled a defense team for her, petitioned the Ohio House of Representatives to pass a resolution demanding Mrs. Johnson's freedom, which was passed by a 37 to 23 vote, and they kept the story alive in the Ohio newspapers. (See examples here.) Finally, on March 12, 1838, six months after her abduction, Mrs. Johnson was set free and returned to Ripley.

As a result of their efforts in securing Mrs. Johnson's release, bounties were placed on the heads of four Ripley men: Dr. Alexander Campbell, Rev. John Rankin, Dr. Isaac Beck, and John B. Mahan. Mahan himself would be abducted just six months later, as we shall see in the next post.
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Old November 13th, 2012, 03:49 PM   #17

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Originally Posted by Rongo View Post
She finally made it to the Ohio shore, where an arm reached out from above and pulled her up the bank. It was the arm of Chancey Shaw, a slavecatcher.

But Shaw was deeply impressed with "Eliza's" heroic journey and he said, "Any woman who crossed that river carrying her baby has won her freedom." He guided her to the base of the steps leading up to the Rankin house and told her she would find refuge at the house at the top of the hill.
Impressive that even a man with a soul-eroding job like slavecatcher still had that much decency in him.
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Old November 15th, 2012, 12:44 PM   #18

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Catching up on this excellent thread today. Great job, Rongo. Good summaries and thanks for the links.

As many problems as we still have in this country, this bit of historical perspective on how very much worse things once were is important.
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Old November 17th, 2012, 04:58 AM   #19

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Impressive that even a man with a soul-eroding job like slavecatcher still had that much decency in him.
Indeed. He passed up a LOT of money when he let her go.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuthmosis III View Post
Catching up on this excellent thread today. Great job, Rongo. Good summaries and thanks for the links.

As many problems as we still have in this country, this bit of historical perspective on how very much worse things once were is important.
Thanks, Tut. And it gets even worse...
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Old November 17th, 2012, 04:59 AM   #20

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The trial of John B. Mahan


On June 20, 1838, Adam Lowry Rankin escorted a fugitive slave named John to the home of Reverend John B. Mahan, in nearby Sardinia. Nobody realized at the time that this would be the beginning of an ordeal that would transform Ripley and destroy Mahan's life.

Reverend Mahan hid John in a secret room in a temperance tavern that he had built in Sardinia the year before, then sent John on his way northwards to freedom. But John's owner, a Kentuckian named William Greathouse, was bound and determined to get his slave back. So he put together a mounted posse and stormed into Ripley, then into Sardinia, threatening people and forcibly conducting searches of the houses of suspected Underground Railroad conductors, including Mahan. Greathouse left empty-handed, but he gathered enough information to ascertain that Mahan had assisted his slave escape. Greathouse then began legal proceedings against Mahan.

Greathouse had one major problem though. Mahan had not broken any laws. There was no law in Ohio against helping fugitive slaves, nor was he in violation of the federal Fugitive Slave Law (the 1793 version that was in effect at the time). But that didn't deter Greathouse. He swore out a warrant saying that Mahan had come to Kentucky and enticed his slave to escape, in violation of Kentucky law. A Kentucky grand jury indicted Mahan and issued a warrant for his arrest. The Governor of Ohio, Robert Vance, approved the warrant (in an act that was probably responsible for him losing his next re-election attempt). So on September 17, 1838, Greathouse and his posse crossed the Ohio River again and stormed into Sardinia.

They took Mahan without a fight, brought him back to Kentucky, and put him in the same jail Eliza Jane Johnson had been incarcerated in a year earlier. They now began the process of deposing Ohio witnesses and gathering information against Mahan. But their mission was two-fold. Not only did they want to convict Mahan, they also wanted to expose the Ripley-area Underground Railroad chain, to learn who all the conductors were.

Ultimately, the issue at trial came down to proving that Mahan had come to Kentucky to entice Greathouse's slave to escape. In this, the prosecution's case fell flat. Mahan had not been in Kentucky for over 18 years, not even during the Eliza Jane Johnson ordeal. Judge Walker Reid finally made the following recommendation to the jury:

Quote:
The crime must have been committed here, in Kentucky, to give this Court jurisdiction. It is so stated in the indictment, and must be proved as stated. No after act will do. No aid and assistance given out of this State, will do, unless he was near enough, at the time the escape was effected, to receive information personally, and aid in case of alarm, by previous arrangement. But if near enough, at the time the escape was effected here, to aid in case of alarm or danger, by agreement, he might be said to aid and assist the slave to escape from his master in Kentucky, to another state.
...
No statute was ever made, or ever will be made, to prevent persons from aiding and assisting property to escape, and therefore we can receive no light from the British courts on the subject of aiding and assisting slaves to escape. For notwithstanding we feel proud of our character as slaveholders, from the humanity and kindness with which we treat our slaves, we nevertheless admit we claim and hold them as property, as goods and chattels. In slave stealing, or any other kind of larceny, the thief as well as the accessary, is moved and seduced by the love of gain. Can we say this of all whose mistaken zeal has induced them to give their money and means to establish a chain of posts or houses of refuge, from Kentucky to Canada to send out pro-claimers to infuse their doctrines along our frontier or agents to give information of the case with which slaves can make their way to Canada? ...While I deprecate their course, and fear its consequences, I am not willing to call them felons; but to attribute it to a higher and nobler motive [than] sordid gain
...
The result of the whole of my examination and deliberation, is a conviction, as complete as the mind of the court is capable of receiving on a complex subject, that the motion must prevail to the extent I have stated. I cannot, perhaps rightfully exclude the whole testimony; but the balance of the motion reduced to writing, as commented upon in this opinion, contains the law that is to say, in the absence of all evidence to prove that the offence charged was committed by the prisoner being personally present in the county of Mason, or near enough to receive information personally, und give aid and assistance in case of alarm or danger at the time the offence was commited, he is not legally subject to this prosecution; and that this court and jury have no jurisdiction of his case, if from the evidence they are satisfied the prisoner is a citizen of the slate of Ohio, and had not been in the state of Kentucky until brought here by legal process to answer this prosecution...


*You can see the Judge's entire statement here:
Page 80 of Trial of Rev. John B. Mahan, for felony : in the Mason Circuit Court of Kentucky, commencing on Tuesday, the 13th, and terminating on Monday, the 19th of November, 1838 / reported by Joseph B. Reid and Henry R. Reeder. - Kentucky Digital L
The jury agreed with the Judge, and after two months in jail, Mahan was released to return to Ripley. But his problems weren't over. Greathouse now sued him in civil court for recovery of the value of his escaped slave. This time Greathouse won, and received a judgment of $1600 against Mahan. Between this and the legal fees from his criminal defense, Mahan was financially devestated.

Mahan had also developed a cough while being held in jail, that would later be diagnosed as tuberculosis. But in spite all of this, he continued his abolitionist activities, until one day while travelling the country promoting the Liberty Party, he was informed of the death of his daughter. Mahan returned back home, crushed. His disease now accelerated and he dropped out of abolitionist activities. In 1844 he died, at the age of 43 years. On his tombstone was written, "A victim of the slave power".

The Ripley area was devastated by the loss of Mahan. Things had changed dramatically in Ripley since his trial. Now that much of the Ripley Underground Railroad chain had been exposed, secrecy was more important than ever. Armed posses of slavecatchers had become commonplace in Ripley, and would frequently threaten the Ripley-area abolitionists and perform forcible searches of their homes at any hour of the day or night.

Civil war was coming, and Ripley would be one of its earliest battlefields...

--------------
Other sources:
Village of Sardinia Sardinia History

Last edited by Rongo; November 17th, 2012 at 06:47 AM. Reason: oops, trial, not trail
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