The newly appointed U.S. Marshal of this district signalized the commencement of his official career yesterday morning, by the successful arrest of five runaway slaves––a negro, his wife, and three children.

            These negroes escaped some time ago from their owners, Mr. Patterson and Mr. Vale, of St. Louis county Missouri. Of course, it was expected they would make their way out of Chicago, and hither the owners came in pursuit of them. They succeeded about a week ago in discovering their retreat; but were unable to do anything then, as there was no Marshal to execute a writ. After Mr. Jones came into office, the owners of the negroes proceeded to Springfield, and obtained a warrant from S.A. Corneau, U.S. Commissioner, directed to the Marshal of the Northern district. In the body of the warrant the negroes were so minutely described that any person might easily recognize them.

            The warrant was delivered to Marshal Jones last Monday, and his deputy, Mr. George L. Webb was designated to execute it. Mr. Webb determined at once that the affair should not prove a fiasco, and made his arrangements accordingly. At the same time, there was no unnecessary expansion–no summoning of secret posse comitatus–no “fuss and feathers.” A locomotive with an emigrant car was to be in readiness to leave St. Louis railway station punctually at 6½ P.M.–and that was all.

            Shortly before six o’clock yesterday morning, Mr. Webb, accompanied by two or three friends, proceeded to the house on Clark street, three doors from Jackson, where the negroes were domiciled, in the third story. The man––called Harris, or Johnson––was found in his room just getting up. As soon as he beheld his visitors, he divined the object of their visit, and commenced resistance. For several minutes he fought like a tiger, his wife joining him in the combat, while their little ones ran screaming and crying about the room. In the fight the deputy marshal received a pretty severe wound on the hand, but not sufficient to disable him. The negro and his wife were quickly subdued, and the former placed in irons. They were then taken down stairs, put in a hackney coach, and driven to the car that was waiting to receive them. The car left the depot at half past six, and in forty minutes had passed the city of Joliet. The negroes were taken to Springfield, where an examination was had in accordance with law, yesterday, and the slaves were ordered into the custody of their owner.

            The news in this city, and in less than twenty minutes after the Marshal left the house, it was surrounded by a large and excited crowd of Africans, swearing the direst description of vengeance upon the officers and all concerned. The story was quickly told, how a negro had gone to the house that night, and desired to lodge there; how the occupants had objected, yet upon his persisting, had acquiesced; how this negro had arisen at an unusually early hour in the morning, and gone down stairs to open the door and let the officer in. The negroes soon fixed upon one Hayes, who drives an express wagon, as the African Judas in question. Just then Hayes came along, the enraged mob flew upon him, but he succeeded in escaping by running into a second-hand clothing shop, making his exit by the back door.

            Foiled in their desire of vengeance in this direction, the negroes rushed pell mell towards Bridgeport, hoping to intercept the train upon which they supposed the fugitives would be taken away at the bridge crossing they made a stand, and again collected to the number of several hundred. The train to approach was the nine o’clock passenger train, the negroes not being aware that a special train had carried their comrades away more than two hours before. Their first effort was to make the flagman show a white flag, a signal for the train to stop; but the flagman refused to do any such thing. The negroes then declared they would stop it, and for this purpose spread themselves out across the track, believing, probably that by their combined efforts they would butt the locomotive off the track! But when the train approached, the engineer, seeing a great crowd of negroes on the track, simply opened the cylinder cocks of his engine, and gave them a double broadside of steam and hot water, which speedily cleared the way. As the train was passing, one of the negroes fired his revolver at the engineer, but did not hit him. If that negro can be identified, he should be arrested and punished with the upmost severity of the law.

            Again defeated in their purposes, the negroes returned, with renewed determination to take vengeance upon the negro Hayes. Shortly before noon, word was brought to the south district police station that the negroes in large force had surrounded the house of Hayes, at the corner of Wells and Taylor streets, with the determination of killing him. A posse of six men was immediately sent to the spot with directions to bring the negro to the Armory, for better security. Word was also sent to the north and west stations for reinforcements. The posse found the house of Hayes surrounded by a crowd of between two and three hundred negroes, armed with clubs, knives, pistols, shot guns, and other utensils of war. Their cry was, “Kill him! Kill de dam darkey!” They had obtained a ladder, and with it were endeavoring to get into the house through an upper window, in which they would have soon succeeded had not the police arrived to interfere with their designs. The infuriated negro mob was soon scattered by the police, like a flock of black sheep. Only a few more courageous than the rest, lingered near the house. The negro Hayes was then brought down and conducted towards the Armory, the mob of negroes following at a respectful distance. On the way, the posse were met by reinforcement from the north and west divisions, and, with this additional force, seven of the ringleaders in the riot––six males and one female––were arrested. They were brought before Esquire Aiken, who discharged the female, and admitted the others to special bail, to appear on Friday next. They gave the following names: Franklin Johnson, John Barriday Abraham Thompson, Charles Johnson, William Lee. Allen Pinkerton became surety for their appearance.

––Chicago Post, April 4th.

FUGITIVE SLAVE IN CHICAGO. We are informed upon undoubted authority than an association embracing men of all political opinions, except abolitionism, has been organized in this city within the past few weeks, whose object is to stand by the United States Marshal in thorough and rigid enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Law. The association numbers about six hundred men, all goof and substantial citizens. They intend to prove, and we doubt not will succeed in proving, that the Fugitive Slave Law not only can be, but will be, enforced under a Republican administration by Republican officers. If the signs of the times indicate anything, there will be fewer runaway negroes in Chicago six months hence than there are now.––Ibid.



"Great Negro Excitement!," Boston (MA) Liberator, April 26, 1861, p. 4.

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