An e-zine for happenings of local culture in Milwaukee and elsewhere

Pt. 6, ExFabula, Monumental Integrity and Murals

A Rip in Time

Framing well an evening of cultural intersection, John Gurda spoke of man from Missouri that escaped enslavement in 1854 that sought refuge in Racine, WI. Under the authority of the Fugitive Slave Act, the man’s alleged owner arrived in Racine with Federal Marshals, took the man into custody and detained him in Milwaukee, commandeering the jail. Arriving by boat, a contingent of men from Racine arrived in Milwaukee demanding the man’s release.

Hearing of this atrocity and the seafaring protestors, the local human rights activists descended on Cathedral Square, which at that time was the footprint of the County Jail. At the peak of dissent, over this man’s arrest under unjust Federal Law, 5,000 people gathered outside of the jail. Taking a beam from the construction site of St. John’s Cathedral, they bashed in the door of the detention facility and freed the man. The namesake of primary street in the Riverwest neighborhood, Sherman Booth rose to the center of this display of intolerance for injustice.

After being indicted for his involvement in the Cathedral Square incident, Booth appealed the Wisconsin Supreme Court for a writ of habeas corpus. The Wisconsin high court granted the writ and furthermore declared the Fugitive Slave Act a violation of States rights, stating that no citizen of Wisconsin would be reduced to a “slave catcher”. Ironically, States rights provided the pretense for Southern succession from the United States five years later, demanding their right to practice slavery. The twice freed man escaped to Canada, his name, Joshua Glover.

Stubborn to defend heathen practices, the Federal Supreme Court accepted Joshua’s captor’s lawsuit and awarded him $1000 dollars (the value of a person in bondage to the captor) and fined Booth $1000. In today’s dollars that’s approximately $30,000, roughly equal to the cost incarcerate an individual for one year.

Contents
Pt. 1 Shaping Influence, ExFabula, Barbershop
Pt. 2 ExFabula, John Gurda on Capital Court History
Pt. 3 ExFabula, The Sherrill’s, A Black Business Legacy
Pt. 4 ExFabula, Sunshine and Rain
Pt. 5 ExFabula, Tom Crawford, a Thankful Trim
Pt. 6 ExFabula, Monumental Integrity and Murals

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