What We Can Learn from Slavery, Person or Property?

Dr. Patrick Johnson, Personhood Ohio

The history of our nation is rich with the tradition of states nullifying tyrannical law. When federal power violates the Constitution or violates God’s law, states have successfully resisted.

For example, when the Supreme Court in 1857 ruled that runaway slave Dred Scott was “property” not a “person”, and when the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act demanded that runaway slaves be turned over to their masters, did you know that many states resisted and freed slaves?

In 1851, a U.S. Senator, a former New York governor, and 24 New Yorkers were arrested for hiding runaway slave William Henry. Under their direction, he finally made it to Canada to freedom. A jury practically “nullified” federal law by refusing to convict all but one of the 26 citizens who helped William Henry.

Wisconsin went even further and in 1854 officially declared the Fugitive Slave Act to be unconstitutional. Within five years, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, and Kansas followed Wisconsin’s lead and passed legislation to nullify the Fugitive Slave Act.

The rescue of the slave Joshua Glover is one of the most inspiring examples of the people nullifying immoral federal law. Glover escaped his Missouri master and, with the help of the Underground Railroad, made his way north to Wisconsin. Unfortunately, his master, B.S. Garland, eventually caught up with him.

With the help of two U.S. Marshals and a bloody wooden club, they arrested Glover and threw him in a Milwaukee jail. About 100 men who opposed slavery landed by boat in Milwaukee, furious. Their crowd grew dramatically in size as they marched toward the jail. The men convinced a local judge that the runaway slave was entitled to at least two things: a writ of habeas corpus and a trial by jury. The judge delivered the writ to the U.S. Marshals at the jail.

Not surprisingly, the federal officers rejected the validity of the writ.

However, the citizens of Wisconsin did not respect this “mischief framed by a law.” In courageous defiance, they broke down the doors of the jail and freed Joshua Glover! Then the sheriff arrested Glover’s former slave master and the two U.S. Marshals, charging them with assault! Take that, tyrants! In the meantime, the Underground Railroad assisted Joshua Glover as he crossed the border into Canada to freedom.

Ohio soon joined the ranks of northern states who refused to bow to the federal judiciary when the judges violated the Constitution and God’s law. Did you know that approximately half of the activists in the Underground Railroad were Ohioans? Ohio has a strong tradition of “nullifying” tyrannical federal law, and never has it been more necessary than now, when the federal government’s gavel results in the slaughter of 25,000 innocent preborn Ohioans every year.

The Emancipation Proclamation is credited with ending slavery, but godly Americans and sovereign states were ending slavery long before Lincoln ever thought of it. When the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe, was asked who ended slavery, she answered, “John Rankin and his sons.”

Who is John Rankin? A pastor in Ripley, Ohio, who defied federal tyranny and hid runaway slaves from the federal government. Was he a hero or a villain? Of course, a hero.

We will never have a Lincoln until we have a hundred Rankins. Ohio desperately needs more men and women like Reverend Rankin, who will love these children as they love themselves, who will work to pass state laws to protect these innocent babies from the federal government’s bloody gavel. Will you be one?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *