This Day in History

Sept. 13, 1858: Oberlin Wellington Rescue

Time Periods: Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864
Themes: Democracy & Citizenship, Laws & Citizen Rights, Slavery and Resistance

On Sept. 13, 1858, 18-year-old John Price was arrested by a federal marshal in Oberlin, Ohio under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 (Price had escaped from a Kentucky enslaver a few years before.) As soon as Oberlin residents heard of the marshal’s actions, a group of them went to Wellington where Price was being held.

Oberlin Rescuers | Zinn Education Project

Oberlin Rescuers, Cuyahoga County Jail, April, 1859. Source: Ohio Historical Society.

Price of Freedom | Zinn Education Project

After peaceful negotiations failed, they stormed the hotel, found Price, and took him to freedom in Canada in what became known as the Oberlin–Wellington Rescue. (It is not known what happened to Price after he arrived in Canada.) Thirty-seven of the abolitionists involved in the rescue were arrested for violating the Fugitive Slave Law.

We recommend the picture book, The Price of Freedom: How One Town Stood Up to Slavery.

Learn more from Ohio Central History on the “Oberlin-Wellington Rescue Case.