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Rendition Hearing Of Anthony Burns: 1854

Abolitionists Mobilize

While Dana and Ellis were preparing for the hearing, other abolitionists called a mass meeting at Faneuil Hall. During the meeting, Thomas Wentworth Higginson led an unsuccessful attempt to rescue Burns, during which a deputy was killed. As a result, by early the next day, soldiers, militia, and emergency deputies had Boston under what appeared to be martial law. Loring postponed Burns's hearing until Monday.

Meanwhile, Suttle offered to sell Burns for $1,200. Burns's supporters quickly raised the money and Loring himself drew up a bill of sale. But at the last minute, the pro-slavery U.S. district attorney, Benjamin F. Hallett, announced that a slave could not be sold in Massachusetts. He then threatened to bill Suttle for all the government's expenses if he sold Burns before the hearing was over. The discussion continued until midnight, when Hallett announced it was now Sunday and that no sale could take place on the Sabbath.

The hearing commenced on Monday and lasted until Thursday. All the while the courtroom was filled with a U.S. marshal's guard of about 120 men drawn from the dregs of society. To reach the courtroom the parties had to duck under the heavy anchor chains that were draped around the building and pass through four or five cordons of police and armed soldiers.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1833 to 1882Rendition Hearing Of Anthony Burns: 1854 - Tracked Down In Boston, Dana For The Defense, Abolitionists Mobilize, Judge's Rulings Favor Master