The Underground Railroad eBook

William Still
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,446 pages of information about The Underground Railroad.
These are embraced in the act of Congress, on the 30th of Sept., 1790, Ch. 9, Sec. 22, on the subject of obstructing or resisting the service of legal process,—­the act of the 2d of March, 1831, Chap. 99, Sec. 2, which secures the jurors, witnesses, and officers of our Courts in the fearless, free, and impartial administration of their respective functions,—­and the act of the 18th of September, 1850, Ch. 60, which relates more particularly to the rescue, or attempted rescue of a fugitive from labor.  These Acts were made the subject of a charge to the Grand Jury of this Court in November last, of which I shall direct a copy to be laid before you; and I do not deem it necessary to repeat their provisions at this time.
Gentlemen of the Grand Jury:  You are about to enter upon a most grave and momentous duty.  You will be careful in performing it, not to permit your indignation against crime, or your just appreciation of its perilous consequences, to influence your judgment of the guilt of those who may be charged before you with its commission.  But you will be careful, also, that no misguided charity shall persuade you to withhold the guilty from the retributions of justice.  You will inquire whether an offence has been committed, what was its legal character, and who were the offenders,—­and this done, and this only, you will make your presentments according to the evidence and the law.  Your inquiries will not be restricted to the conduct of the people belonging to our own State.  If in the progress of them, you shall find, that men have been among us, who, under whatever mask of conscience or of peace, have labored to incite others to treasonable violence, and who, after arranging the elements of the mischief, have withdrawn themselves to await the explosion they had contrived, you will feel yourselves bound to present the fact to the Court,—­and however distant may be the place in which the offenders may have sought refuge, we give you the pledge of the law, that its far-reaching energies shall be exerted to bring them up for trial,—­if guilty, to punishment.  The offence of treason is not triable in this Court; but by an act of Congress, passed on the 8th of August, 1845, Chap. 98, it is made lawful for the Grand Jury, empanelled and sworn in the District Court, to take cognizance of all the indictments for crimes against the United States within the jurisdiction of either of the Federal Courts of the District.  There being no Grand Jury in attendance at this time in the Circuit Court, to pass upon the accusations I have referred to in the first instance, it has fallen to my lot to assume the responsible office of expounding to you the law in regard to them.  I have the satisfaction of knowing, that if the views I have expressed are in any respect erroneous, they must undergo the revision of my learned brother of the Supreme Court, who presides in this Circuit, before they can operate to the serious prejudice of any one; and that if they are doubtful even, provision
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The Underground Railroad from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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