Document Type

Chapter of Book

Publication Date



slavery, abolitionists, Fugutive Slave Law, Oberlin-Wellington Rescue (1858), due process, fair trial


This chapter from Justice and Legal Change on the Shores of Lake Erie, examines the first important cases ever heard by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. The cases, known as the Oberlin-Wellington Fugitive Slave Cases -- stemmed out of the rescue of a fugitive slave from the custody of a professional slave catcher. The fugitive was seized in Oberlin, and taken to nearby Wellington, and held in hotel while the slave catchers waiting for a train to take them to Columbus. Meanwhile, a mob -- consisting mostly of Oberlin residents, including many Oberlin College faculty and students and a few dozen African Americans -- surrounded the hotel and eventually rescued the fugitive. Scores of people were indicted, and two were convicted after trials that violated numerous aspects of due process. This chapter details these trials.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Abolitionists, Fair trial, Slavery--United States, Due process of law, Oberlin-Wellington Rescue 1858, Fugitive slave law (1850), United States