Three records of proceedings and two writs of habeas corpus in the important case of Rosetta Armstead, a sixteen-year-old slave, who sued for her freedom after being taken into the free state of Ohio by her master's agent. One of the briefs is in later Supreme Court Justice John McLean's hand. Rosetta was being transported from Kentucky to Virginia to be a nurse for ex-President Tyler's granddaughter. Rosetta, who had been aided by local anti-slavery agents, presented herself before the Court of Common Pleas at Columbus, where her request to be placed in the care of a guardian, Mr. Louis Van Slyke, was granted. Notified by his agent, Mr. Dennison, Rosetta's owner came from Louisville, Kentucky and emotionally pleaded with her to remain a slave, actually offering her the choice--she chose freedom. Incensed, her owner then obtained a writ of habeas corpus, one of the documents here. The writ notwithstanding, Judge Parker of the Columbus Probate Court, dismissed it, and declared Rosetta to be free. A second writ was then obtained and again the judge threw it out, but also jailed the marshal for contempt. The case now went to the Circuit Court of Ohio, where Judge John McLean freed the marshal, and had Rosetta re-arrested declaring her to be a "fugitive," under the 1850 law. In the end, however, the case went to a hearing and Salmon Chase, Judge Timothy Walker and Rutherford B. Hayes defended Rosetta. Hayes gave the closing argument, saying that Rosetta was neither a fugitive nor a slave. Brought into Ohio by her owner's agent, the moment her feet touched free soil, Rosetta was free.
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