Arrest of Two Fugitive Slaves

ARREST OF TWO FUGITIVE SLAVES.—We learn from the officers of the steamer Prioress, that the town of Aurora was the scene of considerable excitement night before last, occasioned by the arrest near that place of two fugitive slaves, who had made their escape from the neighborhood of Hamilton, Ky., a short distance below.

The negroes, belonging to two men named Arnold and Connor, had been kindly taken in charge by some obliging officers of the Underground Railroad, immediately on their arrival in Aurora, and spirited away a short distance in the country, where they were arrested and brought back to town. Here a party of abolitionists attempted to rescue them from the hands of the officers, when a general fight ensued, in which knives, stones and pistols were freely used. The owners of the slaves, assisted by some friends from the other side of the river, finally dispersed the rescuers, and safely bore the negroes back. No one was seriously injured in the encounter, though the fight at one time presented rather an alarming phase.— Cincinnati Commercial, May 9.

But the same paper of the 10th says:

“The version of the affair at Aurora, In., given by us yesterday, was grossly incorrect. The two colored men were seized without warrant and without proof that they were fugitives, simply in the hope of getting a reward. They were taken to Lawrenceburg for confinement in the county jail, but the officers refused to recognize the authority of their captors. They were then carried back to Aurora, and there threatened and abused until the indignation of the community against the men who had arrested them began to be expressed in such unmistakable terms that they let their prisoners go. The latter had not passed the corporation limits, however, before they were pursued by a rowdy mob, against whom they bravely defended themselves, levelling a number of their assailants to the ground. Being at last overcome, they were bound with cords, and horribly beaten with brass knuckles. Soon after. their master, a Baptist preacher, of Boone County, Kentucky, arrived, but was so shocked at the treatment his men had received that he refused to give any reward his their captors, and said he had much rather the runaways had gone to Canada than received such inhuman abuse.

“The statement in the Enquirer's account respecting the ‘mob of abolitionists’ is entirely untrue. The people of Aurora have never interfered with the institutions of the Kentuckians, and their indignation was aroused solely by the officious malignity of the parties who volunteered, without legal authority and without evidence, the arrest of the negroes. Their hostility seeks the employment of moral weapons only. The reaction against the Democracy of the town is overwhelming. The large German population have declared that hereafter they will act with the Republicans.”


As reprinted in the National Anti-Slavery Standard, May 26, 1860