Tuesday, March 7, 2017

They're All "Heroes" -- No Matter What Laws they Enforce


Actually, it was a righteous rebellion, not a mere "riot."



Given the rarity of the surname, it is likely that Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch is related to deputy federal marshal
Edward Gorsuch, who was killed an in violent episode that left the nation shocked and terrified, and was an overture to a long and bloody military conflict. 

Deputy Marshal Gorsuch was 57 years old at the time he received his commission, and was killed on the second day of his service. The US Marshals Service deputized him on September 10, 1851 to enforce a warrant issued under the Fugitive Slave Law to recover two human beings Gorsuch claimed as his property. He and Marshal Henry H. Kline, along with several other deputies, had the “law” on their side when they traveled to Christiana, Pennsylvania, bearing a warrant that authorized them to abduct four men who had freed themselves – and to conscript any white citizen they encountered to serve as accomplices in that act.
William Parker
Late in the evening of September 10, the kidnappers, who included at least two of Gorsuch’s sons, surrounded a two-story fieldstone home owned by William Parker, a 29-year-old farmer and militia organizer who had escaped from slavery nine years earlier. Operatives of the Underground Railroad had warned Parker of the impending raid. 

Gorsuch imperiously demanded the surrender of his former captives. When no answer came from inside the home, the marshals invaded the domicile – and were promptly driven out by the occupants, one of whom wielded a pitchfork. 

Standing in the front yard of the home, the marshals read the warrants to Parker, who looked down on them contemptuously from a second-floor window.

“I don’t care about your warrant, your demands, or your government,” Parker replied. “You can burn us, but you can’t take us. Before I give up, you will see my ashes scattered on the earth.”

“I want my property, and I shall have it,” bellowed Gorsuch, pretending as if words scribbled by a functionary on a piece of paper gave him title of ownership over other human beings. Realizing that such a claim would avail nothing with Parker, Gorsuch appealed to biblical passages enjoining servants to obey their masters. 

Parker, who apparently knew the Bible better than Gorsuch, replied by citing New Testament verses teaching the equality of all human beings before God. 

“Where do you see it in Scripture that a man should traffic in his brother’s blood?” Parker demanded of the deputy marshal. 

“Do you call a n*gger my brother?” Gorsuch exclaimed.
“Yes, I do,” Parker defiantly replied. 

The situation congealed into a standoff that lasted until daybreak. Shortly after dawn, Parker’s wife used a horn to summon help from Parker’s militia, who arrived bearing whatever weapons they could muster. The alarm also brought two local Quakers named Elijah Lewis, a shopkeeper, and Castner Hanway, a local miller. Both of these white men were well-known for their sympathies toward escaped slaves. 

Relieved by the arrival of two white men, Marshal Kline waved his warrant in their face and told them that they were required to assist in the recovery of Gorsuch’s “property.” Once again, this demand was in harmony with what the federal government called the “law” – and when Lewis and Hanway replied that they would have no part in an abduction they were told that they were committing a federal “crime.”

Surrounded, outnumbered, hungry, and humiliated, Deputy Marshal Gorsuch lost what remained of his composure.

“I have come a long way and I want my breakfast,” he snarled at Parker. “I’ll have my property, or I’ll breakfast in hell.”

Dickinson Gorsuch
“Go back to Maryland, old man,” one of the black militiamen taunted Gorsuch.
“Father, will you take all this from a n*gger?” asked his twenty-year-old son, Dickinson, who was part of the posse. 

Parker snapped at Dickinson to keep a civil tongue, or he’d knock his teeth down his throat. Dickinson’s reply to Parker was issued by way of his revolver, inspiring a rejoinder delivered from a shotgun wielded by one of Parker’s associates. Dickinson fell, but he would survive.

The posse opened fire on the home, but was very quickly swarmed by the militia. Gorsuch’s other son, Joshua, was beaten bloody, but escaped, along with the rest of their raiding party-- save one. The Deputy Marshal himself proved to be the only fatality. 

It’s quite likely that several of Gorsuch’s accomplices in the attempted abduction would also have been killed, if not for the intervention of Lewis and Hanway, the two abolitionists they had threatened with arrest. Adamantly opposed to slavery but determined to save lives where possible, the two Quarters, at some substantial personal risk, dragged several wounded men to safety. 

Within hours, tidings of the “Christiana Riot” had been dispatched throughout the country by way of telegraph, and a militarized task force composed of constables, federal marshals, and U.S. marines was deployed to comb the countryside in search of alleged co-conspirators.
"Tragedy at Christiana": Yes, it was called a "tragedy."

“They spread out across the autumn countryside, forcing their way into the homes of blacks and whites alike, threatening anyone who was thought to have anything to do with the Underground Railroad, arresting scores of men on suspicion, with little concern for constitutional niceties,” recalls Fergus M. Bordewich in his book Bound for Canaan. “As one eyewitness put it, `blacks were hunted like partridges.’” 

Parker, knowing that he and his friends faced summary execution if the joint federal-state task force found them, gathered the fugitive slaves in his protection and took them, by way of the underground, to Rochester, New York, and he eventually emigrated to Canada. 

In the U.S., where the Fugitive Slave Act had effectively nationalized the practice of chattel slavery, Parker was wanted for murder and “treason” for defending the right to self-ownership. In Canada, he and other black refugees could vote, own property, and enjoy due process protections on equal terms with Canadians of any other ethnic background.  

Acting on the assumption that the blacks who repelled Gorsuch and his posse at Christiana were acting under the pernicious influence of white seditionists, the administration of Millard Fillmore arranged the indictment of 38 people for “levying war against the United States.” 

This would have been the largest treason trial in American history, and the prosecution intended that it would put down the growing rebellion against the Fugitive Slave Law.

Resistance to that act was widespread in the northern states, several of which enacted “personal liberty laws” that nullified enforcement of the federal measure within their respective jurisdictions. This development prompted southern defenders of slavery – who just a few years later would invoke the heritage of 1776 to justify secession – to condemn as traitors those who undermined the sacred and imperishable Union. They had an ally in arch-unionist Massachusetts Senator Daniel Webster. 


“If men get together and combine, and resolve that they will oppose a law of the government, not in any one case, but in all cases; if they resolve to resist the law, whoever may be attempted to be made subject of it, and carry that purpose into effect, by refusing the application of the law in any one case, either by force of arms or force of numbers – that, sir, is treason,” bloviated Webster in a speech shortly before the trial.

The indictment against the Christiana defendants asserted that they “did traitorously assemble and combine against the United States” for the purpose of preventing “by means of intimidation and violence the execution of the said laws of the United States.” 

In December 1851, Hanway became the first to stand trial. His role in the events at Christiana was peripheral, but “the federal government felt that it had to convict a white man to avenge Gorsuch’s death in the eyes of Southerners,” explains Bordewich. That ambition was thwarted when the jury took all of fifteen minutes to acquit the pacifistic miller of all charges. The Fillmore administration made a desultory effort to prosecute other defendants during its final year. 

After Franklin Pierce assumed office in March 1853, he dismissed the case – but not the effort to enforce the Fugitive Slave Law. In 1854, Pierce deployed 1,600 troops to Boston in order to take into custody a man named Anthony Burns, who had escaped bondage in Virginia. Local abolitionists had liberated Burns from the custody of Deputy US Marshal James Batchelder, who was killed in the line of duty by citizens acting in the righteous defense of the life of an innocent man.

The names of both James Batchelder and Edward Gorsuch are inscribed on the honor (if that word applies) roll of US law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.  On September 11, 2015, Gorsuch received a heartfelt tribute from a fellow law enforcement officer. 


“Sir, on today[,] the 164th anniversary of your death[,] I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice to our Country,” wrote an anonymous member of the US Border Patrol in the “reflections” section of the Officer Down Memorial Page, which is devoted to “Remembering All of Law Enforcement’s Heroes.” 

All law enforcement officers, we are insistently told, are “heroes,” even when enforcing government edicts that are morally unsupportable. Members of that fraternity of state-licensed violence regard the detestable likes of Batchelder and Gorsuch as their kin, as well they should.

This week's Freedom Zealot Podcast also examines the Christiana Rebellion:




Be sure to visit the Libertarian Institute.







Dum spiro, pugno!


7 comments:

tz said...

You apparently don't have a statute of limitations. How about your heritage for the last 2000 years.
Or even the Mormons that did NOT appoint blacks as pastors until 1978.

Oh, yes, in 2017, we can look back and condemn people?

Since 1974, 60 MILLION dead babies. Do you care? Do they matter? Oh, they are YOUR generation's grave collective sin.

Slavery was 150 years ago or more.

Their blood is not on my hands, my great-grandparents were not in the USA.

Yet too many complain about ancient crimes rather than notice they are up to their necks - soon to be drowning in the blood of innocents - in their own time and space.

One cannot point to other's sins, wither in time or space to justify their commission - or OMISSION.

Close the nearest abortion clinic. Only then look deep into the past to condemn.

Josh Stern said...

This is a well written, thought provoking piece...like many others on this blog. We live in an age and information community that involves a lot of consensus propaganda about both property rights and the authority of a detached government to enforce behaviors - e.g. "You can be arrested and charged for straying into this billionaire's private beach" & "You can be arrested and charged for various forms of protest against foreign military adventures that you are only allowed to hear lies about, because your government has empowered the war makers to keep the truth a top secret and to routinely tell lies about their activities." Thinking about choices in past situations, now recognized as clearly unjust, helps people gain perspective.

I've put together a list of "IndyNews" sources that now includes Pro Libertate: http://www.mediafire.com/file/15vubeeh3fxamcc/IndyNewsRSS.html This single page can be downloaded and displayed in the browser, giving easy access to RSS, URLs, and Twitter account names. Many of the listed blogs often run pieces written by 3rd party authors, and some of the sites specialize in that. Many of them use the DISQUS system for comments. It is not a perfect system, but it has the advantage of making it easy for one to keep track of replies on multiple sites. Users have the option of making their collected activity private, but I have left my profile public: https://disqus.com/by/JJ_Stern/

William N. Grigg said...

Anent TZ's comment above:

We shouldn't engage in ritual condemnation of people for ancient sins, nor should we celebrate them for committing them -- and the latter is what is done when law enforcement memorials treat the likes of Gorsuch and Batchelder as "fallen heroes" because they were killed trying to enforce patently immoral edicts.

There are, I suspect, a handful of examples of law enforcement officers who have been killed while providing security at abortion clinics. On the basis of what TZ wrote, I doubt he would perceive them as fallen heroes.

kirk said...

they are not heroes. heroes act out of a well defined sense of right and wrong, embracing what is right and taking down what is wrong, usually under extraordinary circumstances.

how is it possible to characterize PAID ENFORCERS in such a fashion? the simple answer is that such a characterization is not possible since they generally do not act on what is right, or what is wrong, but, rather, on what is legal and what is illegal.

characterizing leo's as 'heroes' is to stretch the characterization beyond the breaking point.

Anonymous said...

Wow. What a great story. I find it particularly fascinating that Mrs. Parker immediately had the presence of mind to summon the local militia TO DEFEND HERSELF AND HER COMPANIONS FROM MARAUDING GOVERNMENT GOONS. Her actions are revealing on several levels. It is as if her understanding of the 2nd amendment almost REFLEXIVELY COMPELLED her to get out the call to the militia. It is as though it was second nature, as if it must have been a commonplace response in that era. As well the militia itself quickly assembles, it reflexively reacts to the threat posed by a government thug squad. One gets the sense that in that era militias defending people from government thugs is quite routine. And then there is the racial dimension. The 2nd amendment made it possible for blacks to organize well armed militias to defend themselves against dangerous government predators. Is it any wonder that it was the KKK which was among the first advocates of gun control legislation ?

Anonymous said...

The 60 million human beings murdered by barbaric slaughter at their most helpless age, has been brought on by the Godless. Learn, understand and get to know who the founders of The Frankfurt School are. From Russia to Germany and to the US at NYC they came with the evil straight from the depths of hell. Understand their push for the complete destruction of this country by taking over government. These people have always got in power by attacking the defending forces of government, police. These people and their useful idiots of the 60's called police, pigs. This was the Marxist way to gain a following to weasel their way into taking control of government. The democrat party used to represent the American worker, no longer with these Godless Marxist in power. The democrat party with its new Godless leadership represents, international socialism and has nothing in common with the American worker. These Godless have turned the police and the whole criminal justice system as a tool of fear and abuse against the American worker. These Godless Marxist are ripping down the, Separation of Powers, to make America run by lawyers with man's law above a God's law. Going back to these Godless Marxist, these Satanist worshiping barbaric evil, wrapped in human skin, their term, "pigs" is now becoming of them. Pigs, Parasites In Government.

Ed Williams said...

Rest in Peace, Sir, and deepest condolences to your family. You will be missed...Godspeed...