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Syracuse in Onondaga County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Courier Building

The Freedom Trail

 

— The Underground Railroad —

 
Courier Building Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 17, 2019
1. Courier Building Marker
Inscription.  ”It is treason, treason, TREASON, and nothing else.”
Daniel Webster, about refusing to carry out the Fugitive Slave Law, 1851.

On September 18, 1850, President Millard Fillmore signed the Fugitive Slave Act, requiring federal marshals to capture people accused of escaping from slavery, and mandating that accused persons could not testify on their own behalf. Those who helped freedom seekers could be fined the enormous sum of $1000 for each-person they helped, plus spend up to six months in jail. Judges who supported slave catchers received ten dollars. If they ruled for the accused, they received only five dollars.

The Syracuse Standard called this law "arbitrary, tyrannical, unnecessary," and "obnoxious," and the law aroused immediate opposition in Syracuse. Within two days, African Americans organized a protest meeting. Chaired by James Baker (a 40-year-old whitewasher, member of the Wesleyan Methodist Church, and freedom seeker from Georgia), the meeting resolved "that we hold this truth to be self evident, that a man's right to himself is God given," and "that hereafter we will wear daggers
Marker detail: Daniel Webster image. Click for full size.
By Duyckinick, Evert A.
2. Marker detail: Daniel Webster
Duyckinick, Evert A. Portrait Gallery of Eminent Men and Women in Europe and America. New York: Johnson, Wilson & Company, 1873

In May 1851, Secretary of State Daniel Webster accused the people of Syracuse of treason if they refused to obey the Fugitive Slave Law.
in our belts, as a mark of the respect we feel for the passage of the recent Slave catching Bill." On October 4, 1850, more than 500 Syracuse citizens met in City Hall to form a biracial Vigilance Committee.

The federal government struck back. In May 1851, from a balcony on the east side of the Courier Building (then known as Frazee Hall), U.S. Secretary of State Daniel Webster challenged the people of Syracuse. If they refused to carry out the Fugitive Slave Law, he said, "they are traitors, and are guilty of treason… It is treason, treason, TREASON, and nothing else." The federal government, he said, would enforce the Fugitive Slave Law in Syracuse "in the midst of the next anti-slavery convention, if the occasion shall arise." Rev. Samuel J. May, standing in the crowd, said that "indignation flashed from many eyes in that assembly, and one might almost hear the gritting of teeth in defiance of the threat."

On October 1, 1851, the U.S. government carried out Webster's promise. While the antislavery Liberty Party convention met at the First Congregational Church just west of the Courier Building, Federal marshal William Allen arrested William "Jerry" Henry, a cooper who had escaped from slavery in Missouri. A biracial group of hundreds of Syracuse citizens, both men and women, helped William "Jerry" Henry successfully escape to Kingston, Ontario, and the
Marker detail: The Fugitive Slave Law <i>Daily Advertiser</i>, Auburn, New York, October 5, 1850 image. Click for full size.
3. Marker detail: The Fugitive Slave Law Daily Advertiser, Auburn, New York, October 5, 1850
federal government never again tried to enforce the Fugitive Slave Law in Syracuse.
 
Erected by Preservation Association of Central New York, City of Syracuse, and Onondaga Historical Association. (Marker Number 5.)
 
Location. 43° 2.98′ N, 76° 8.975′ W. Marker is in Syracuse, New York, in Onondaga County. Marker is on East Washington Street west of Montgomery Street, on the right when traveling west. Marker is located along the sidewalk near the southeast corner of the subject building. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 241 East Genesee Street, Syracuse NY 13202, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Daniel Webster's "Syracuse Speech" (a few steps from this marker); James K. McGuire (within shouting distance of this marker); Syracuse Grade Crossing Elimination (within shouting distance of this marker); Pitts Park (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Onondaga Indians (about 500 feet away); How Much Does a Canal Boat Weigh? (about 500 feet away); Erie Boulevard Was Once the Erie Canal (about 500 feet away); Erie Canal (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Syracuse.
 
Regarding Courier Building. National Register of Historic Places #14000006.
 
Related markers.
Marker detail: Syracuse Pre-Civil War Buildings image. Click for full size.
By H.H. Bailey, Bird’s-eye View of Syracuse, N.Y., 1874
4. Marker detail: Syracuse Pre-Civil War Buildings
1 • The Courier Building is one of only a handful of pre-Civil War buildings or blocks still standing in downtown Syracuse.
The others include:
2 • the Dana Block, c. 1837;
3 • the Wesleyan Methodist Church, 1845;
4 • the Hamilton White house, c. 1842;
5 • and Plymouth Church, 1859.
Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Syracuse Freedom Trail & Underground Railroad
 
Also see . . .  The Courier Building. The Courier Building was built in 1844, and was known as the Frazee Block. It was renamed Courier Building in October of 1856. Despite major alterations to the building, the historically important balcony remains intact on the Montgomery Street side. Daniel Webster gave his famous “Syracuse Speech” from this balcony on May 26, 1851. Webster warned local abolitionists that aiding and abetting fugitive slaves would be considered treasonous. (Submitted on September 5, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
Categories. Abolition & Underground RRAfrican AmericansCivil RightsLaw Enforcement
 
Courier Building Marker<br>(<i>wide view looking east • Courier Building on left</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 17, 2019
5. Courier Building Marker
(wide view looking east • Courier Building on left)
National Register of Historic Places plaque<br>(<i>mounted on building; a few steps from marker</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 17, 2019
6. National Register of Historic Places plaque
(mounted on building; a few steps from marker)
The Courier Building
1844
Has been placed on the
National Register
of Historic Places

by the United States
Department of the Interior
The Courier Building (<i>southeast corner view</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 17, 2019
7. The Courier Building (southeast corner view)
Marker is just beyond this frame, to the left.
 

More. Search the internet for Courier Building.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on September 5, 2019. This page originally submitted on September 3, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 89 times since then. Photos:   1. submitted on September 3, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.   2, 3, 4. submitted on September 5, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.   5. submitted on September 4, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.   6, 7. submitted on September 5, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.
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