The Trial of the Negroes
1859 was the year of John Brown’s raid on the Federal Arsenal at Harper’s Ferry; Oregon entered the Union as a Free State; and the Arkansas General Assembly passed Bill 151, “An Act to Remove the Free Negroes and Mulattoes from this State.” The racial tension in this Country was escalating and Greene County Pennsylvania was no exception as evidenced by the events leading up to “The Trial of the Negroes”.
In August of that year, physical confrontations, the “Auction” of a Free Person of Color, and the threat by some white men, to kill colored families if they did not leave Dodysburg and Waynesburg, set the stage for further violence. By the morning of August 26th the one person dead was a white man named William Sealy Zimmerman and by December 20th, seven Negro men were on trial for his murder. The trial ran through December 27th with the exception of Christmas and produced testimony of more than 100 witnesses. The Waynesburg Republican reported it all as a transcript.Click here to see a list of the participants and to read The Trial of the Negroes