Abduction of Freedmen

March 31, 1868


A group of men, among them a white Richmonder, abduct freedmen in Key West to then later sell into slavery elsewhere.


Abduction of Freedmen-They Sail from Key West for the Florida Coast, but are Carried to Matanzas, to be Sold into Slavery-Arrest of the Kidnappers-One of them a Richmond Man. About twenty freedmen who engaged at Key West to go down the Florida coast to cut timber there, sailed last week on the brig Pat. Cleburne and the small schooner Lost Cause, but their pretended employers, instead of proceeding to the Florida coast, run the vessels into Matinzas, where, it is presumed, the intention of the kidnappers was to sell them into slavery. The names of the parties engaged in the nefarious transaction are B. Preston, of South Carolina; C. Ellet, of Charleston, South Carolina; J. A. or J. H. Smith, of Natchez or Vicksburg, Mississippi; John Colman, of Mississippi; and William Allen, of Richmond, Virginia. After the arrival of the vessels at Matanzas, the United States consul directed his efforts to capture the kidnappers and protect their victims. Smith and Colman escaped. Preston, Ellet, and Allen were captured, and sent to Key West in irons. It was expected that Smith and Colman would also be captured, as it would be almost impossible for them to get off from the island. The freedmen were sent back to Key West. We learn these particulars from Mr. J. C. Wilcox, who has just arrived from Key West. There have been strong suspicious for a long time that parties were engaged in kidnapping freedmen on the Florida coast and running them over to Cuba. It is hoped that the captured persons will be punished to the fullest extent of the law. The names of the vessels which they employed to pursue their kicked occupation of slave-trading and converting free American citizens into bondsmen were most appropriate-" Pat. Cleburne," one of the Confederate chieftains, and "The Lost Cause."-New Orleans Republican.
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Mallory Haskins




“Abduction of Freedmen,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed August 8, 2022, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/947.