“I came to this State with five thousand dollars; have but five hundred left, but will spend the last cent to see ‘Bill’ Babbitt’s heart’s blood.”
After which heroic utterance a fresh volley of stones and shots were fired, and fresh rush made for doors and windows. The sidelights of the front door had been shattered, and one burly ruffian thrust himself halfway in, but stuck, when a defender leveled a revolver at his head, and said to Mrs. Babbitt, who was then in command of the hall, while her husband defended the parlor windows:
“Shall I shoot him?”
“Yes, shoot him like a dog.”
But Mrs. Edward Messer, her sister, who knew Mr. Babbitt’s dread of taking life, knocked the pistol up and struck the ruffian’s head with a stick, when it was withdrawn, and again the mob fell back and resorted to stones and sticks and oaths and howlings and gunshots, and threats of firing the house.
Mrs. Babbitt thought that personal appeals might bring citizens to the rescue, and in an interval of black darkness between lightning flashes, escaped through a back cellar way, and had almost reached the shelter of a cornfield adjoining the garden, when the lightning revealed her and three men started in pursuit. It was two months before the birth of one of her children, and Mr. Elliott, a neighbor who was hastening to the rescue, saw her danger and ran to engage her pursuers. Stumbling through the corn, he encountered one and cudgeled him, but all were separated by the darkness. Mrs. Babbitt, however, succeeded in reaching the more thickly settled portion of the city, and the first man she called upon for help, replied:
“You have made your bed—lie in it!”
The sheriff came, with two or three men, and talked to the mob, which dispersed before daylight, with open threats to “have Babbitt’s heart’s blood,” and for months his family lived in momentary apprehension of his murder. For months he was hooted at in the streets of Minneapolis as “nigger thief,” and called “Eliza.” No arrests were made, and he has always felt it fortunate that Mrs. Messer prevented the shooting of the man in the side-light, as he thinks to this day that in the state of public sentiment, the man firing the shot would have been hanged for murder by any Hennepin county jury, and his home razed to the ground or burned.
Eliza Winston was sent by underground railroad to Canada, because Minnesota, in the year of grace, 1860, could not or would not defend the freedom of one declared free by decision of her own courts.
When such events were actual facts in ’60, near the center of the State, under a Republican administration, what was the condition of public sentiment in the northern portion of the territory in ’57, when there was scarce a pretense of law or order, and the Southern democracy held absolute sway? I soon understood the situation; had known for years that the Southern threats, which Northern men laughed at as “tin kettle thunder,” were the desperate utterances of lawless men, in firm alliance with the “Hierarchy of Rome for the overthrow of this Republic.”