In the legal battle that ensued after the Pearl’s capture, Prosecutor Barton Key presented his case so that each man was charged with thirty-six individual indictments of larceny and a separate seventy-four indictments for transporting the slaves. The above documents is just one of 330 indictments handed down against both Sayers and Drayton. It was rumored that Key was receiving ten dollars for each indictment, thus causing him to prosecute each man in a fashion to maximize his personal profits. Fully aware of this situation, Defense Council, Horace Mann, moved to have the charges consolidated into a singular indictment but his motion was denied. Consequently, as this document demonstrates, Drayton faced a separate trial for stealing and transporting each individual slave, in this example he faced the charges of transporting Mary Edmonson, a slave owned by Francis Valdenar.
Mary had one of the lowest monetary values of the fugitives on The Pearl, but perhaps the largest impact. Her poise and beauty earned her the spotlight in the Northern Press, eventually capturing the attention of Henry Beecher Stowe. Stowe and his church was able rescue Mary after Valdenar sold her into the slave markets of the lower south. After being freed from enslavement, Mary echoed Stowe’s calls for abolition and toured with him throughout the north to gain public support. In 1852, Stowe’s daughter Harriet made arraignments for Mary to attend Oberlin College, the first in the country to allow black women to study. Mary’s goal was to eventually become an example and teacher to other black women, in hopes of creating a chain of education throughout the upper south. Sadly, Mary never achieved this goal. Shortly after arriving at Oberlin, her health rapidly deteriorated causing her to die of pulmonary consumption at the young age of twenty. Her story, however, lived on. In that same year Harriet Beecher Stowe featured Mary’s life in her book A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
Siena Marcelle, Junior Researcher, OC History Lab 2016