Anthony Burns a Historyby Charles Emery Stevens
THE extradition of Anthony Burns as a fugitive slave was the most memorable case of the kind that has occurred since the adoption of the Federal Constitution. It was memorable for the place and for the time of its occurrence; the place being the ancient and chief seat of Liberty in America, and the time being just the moment when the cause of Liberty bad received a most wicked and crushing blow from the hand of the Federal Government. It was memorable also for the difficulty with which it was accomplished, for the intense popular excitement which it caused, for the unexampled expense which it entailed, for the grave questions of law which it involved, for the punishment which it brought down upon the head of the chief actor, and for the political revolution which it drew on. Viewing it thus, it seemed to me to merit an elaborate record; and as unusual facilities were furnished me, I ventured upon the task.
My materials have been derived chiefly from original sources. Of much that is narrated, I was myself an eye-witness. I was present at the Faneuil Hall meeting from its commencement to its close, and I witnessed the attack on the Court House. Throughout the trial of Burns, save a short interval, I had a seat within the bar, and carefully observed the arrangements made by the Marshal, and the demeanor of the various parties. While the troops were drawn up on the Common, on the second of June, I passed up and down the lines, and took note of their conduct. Afterward, on the same day, I traversed that section of the city from which the citizens were excluded by force of martial law, and noticed the manner in which the troops and the police were disposed for the purpose of guarding the streets and avenues. Finally, I stood upon the steps of the Custom House, when the Marshal with his posse and prisoner passed on his way to the wharf, and witnessed the assault of the soldiers, with sabres and bayonets, on the defenseless and un-offending multitude.
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