swore that Burns
escaped from Richmond
, March 24,
1854. To contradict him, six witnesses volunteered their testimony.
They were not sought out; they came accidentally or otherwise into court, and offered, unsolicited, their testimony, that they had seen the man at the bar in Boston
for three or four weeks before the day of alleged escape.
These were witnesses of whose daily life and unimpeached character ample evidence existed.
Everybody knew them.
Six to one!
They were Boston
mechanics and bookkeepers; one a city policeman, one an officer in the regiment, and member of the Common Council.
Surely, it was evident, either that the record was wrong, that the Virginia
witness was wrong, or that this prisoner was not the man Colonel Suttle
claimed as his slave.1
Out of either door, there was chance for the judge to find his way to release Burns
At any rate, there was reasonable doubt, and the person claimed was therefore entitled to his release.
But no; Mr. Loring
lets one unknown slave-hunter outweigh six well-known and honest men, tramples on the rule that in such cases all doubts are to be held in favor of the prisoner, and surrenders his victim to bondage.
Observe, Gentlemen, in this connection, the exceeding importance of granting time to prepare for trial, the omission of which, on the part of Mr. Loring
, I have commented on. If this case had been finished on Thursday, as it would have been but for the interference of others, these witnesses would not have been heard of till after Burns
was out of the State
But after the two efforts of his counsel had succeeded in getting delay till Monday, the facts of the case became known through the city, and,