The Duty of the Free States
The Duty of the Free States.pdf
William E. Channing’s The Duty of the Free States or Remarks Suggested by the Case of the Creole.Boston: William
Crosby & Company, 1842. In November 1841 the 135 enslaved African Americans on board the ship Creole
overpowered the crew, murdering one man, while sailing from Hampton Roads, Virginia, to New Orleans, Louisiana.
Led by Madison Washington, they sailed the vessel to Nassau, Bahamas, where the British declared most of them
free. This pamphlet’s author, William Channing, refutes the American claims that the property of U.S. slave owners
should be protected in foreign ports. In the diplomatic controversy that followed, Ohio Congressman Joshua Giddings argued that once the ship was outside of U.S. territorial waters, the African Americans were entitled to their liberty and that any attempt to re-enslave them would be unconstitutional. Censured by the House