Saturday, February 4, 2017

From the Archives: Protecting Illegals, February 1851

Editors' Note:  The upsurge of resistance to the Grifter-in-Chief's lawless effort to lynch certain Muslim immigrants and other so-called “illegals” reminded us of an earlier occasion when Bostonians rallied to protect “illegals” from deportation to persecution and even death.  How'd that turn out?   From the Spy, February 4, 1851:




Local Heroes Staunchly Defend the Rights of 
Fugitives from Torture and Persecution
Federal Officials Baulked in Their Efforts to Torment 
Those Seeking Refuge in Boston
"We shall resist and we shall win," Mr. Parker vows

By Isaiah Thomas
By Telegraph to The Massachusetts Spy

The Cradle of Liberty was rocked yesterday by a mass upsurge of Bostonians who vowed to protect refugees from Southern persecution despite claims by agents of the Federal Government that such persons were “illegals” who would be returned by force to their slavers.

The excitement began when an honest man of color named Shadrach was carrying out free labor at the Dunking Johnnycake Shop on Water Street.  He had innocently and in good faith served coffee to a group of disreputable looking white men.  After Mr. Shadrach had performed his duties, one of the ruffians announced that he was a slave catcher duly deputized under the infamous Fugitive Slave Act.

The kidnappers were thwarted by a great popular uprising
By extreme force and violence the loathsome agents of the Slave Power kidnapped Mr. Shadrach and removed him to the gaol of the Federal Courthouse in Post Office Square, with the vile intention of removing him from liberty and returning him to his slavers for whatever tender mercies such individuals reserve for those who have attempted to flee their bondage as is the right of every human being.

Fortunately the beneficent laws of The Commonwealth of Massachusetts designate this fair state as a “sanctuary” wherein those who have fled bondage and servitude are regarded not as “illegals” but as valued member of civic society entitled to the protection of the laws of The Commonwealth.

As a result the detention of  Mr. Shadrach was enforced only by a pitiful handful of blackguards supposedly deputized as federal marshals by the Fillmore Administration.

When word spread throughout the city of Mr. Shadrach's impending deportation to the Slave Power, brave men, mostly men and women of color, descended upon the courthouse and demanded that the so-called law enforcement officers release Mr. Shadrach.

The so-called “deputies” refused, whereupon the free men of color overwhelmed the marshals, liberated Mr. Shadrach, and spirited him away to an undisclosed location where he will be safe from further persecution.  Although of course the liberators refused to specify the location of Mr. Shadrach's refuge, sources tell the Spy that he will likely be relocated to Lower Canada, where a Mr. Tim Horton has already offered him condign employment suitable to Mr. Shadrach's experience.

A predictable roar of outrage was heard from the discredited representatives of the Slave Power.  And the sad, pathetic occupant of the White House, one Millard Fillmore, was heard to whine that Federal law must be upheld no matter what the cost in human life.

On the other hand, noted abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who has been getting a lot of positive attention for the terrific things he's doing, repeated his prior statement: “The only way to make the Fugitive Slave Law a dead letter is to make half a dozen or more dead kidnappers.”

Local reaction to the courageous action of the community was generally positive, although it was noticed that some white men would not take a stand against the evil that is the Fugitive Slave Act.  Enjoying a pipe at Weld's Opium Bar on Milk Street, Charles Baker said, “Why can't we all get along?”

Perhaps the oddest reaction was that evinced by a Teutonic immigrant named Fred C. Drumpf, found loitering at the end of East India Wharf.  He said he was waiting for a rumored arrival of a shipment of what he called “Bohunk wenches,” telling the Spy that once you have tasted the delights of Bohemian women you would never go back to swiving with Irish scullery maids.

ADVT.  Flee from high haberdashery prices at Raymonds, Washington St. 'Where U Bot the Hat'  White clientele only!

Editors' Note: As it turned out, Shadrach did reach Montreal successfully and opened a restaurant there called “Moishe's.” For further information consult our friend James McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom at 81-84. NB to the Grifter-in-Chief: it's a book.

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