Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 30.djvu/367

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of the Slavers. 359

at length in the Georgia Senate and House, opinions being divided in the matter, some regarding the enterprise with disfavor and others taking the view that in arresting the owners and seizing the cargo the Federal Government was overriding States rights roughshod.

" But the most interesting phase of this matter was a thing that happened years after the Civil war, at a time when the people of this country had forgotten all about the Wanderer. It came about in this manner: The Wanderer landed her cargo on Georgia soil, either late in 1859 or the early part of 1860, and when the owners were arrested the United States marshal was directed to gather together the negroes brought over on this vessel and to hold them pending further orders from the court. According to the law passed by Con- gress many years before, the negroes taken from African slavers were to be sent to Liberia, and such would have been the outcome of this case, had it not been for the following circumstance:

"The United States marshal turned the work of collecting these negroes over to his deputy, John R. McRae, who, after several months of hard work, managed to get together something in the neighborhood of two-thirds, I should say, of the entire cargo landed. He had his hands full to accomplish that much even, for the owners had scattered them about over the country so thoroughly before they were found out that, between conflicting interests, duplicity, and falsehood, it is a wonder that he got together as many as he did. Before the Federal court could try the owners, however, and order the negroes sent back to Liberia, the Civil war came on, blocking further proceedings and leaving McRae without compensation for the months of hard work he had spent trotting about over the low- lands in search of the scattered cargo of the Wanderer. As for the negroes, they were released, and I have understood there are still quite a number of them living in the coast region about Savannah.

"Well, the war passed, McRae returned from the Confederate army, living for many years on his farm in Telfair county. He forgot all about his experience in gathering up the cargo of the Wanderer until old age began to tell on him. Then he wondered whether or not the government would still allow his claim for services. He brought the matter to the attention of Judge Henry G. Turner, who for sixteen years represented the Eleventh Georgia District in Congress, with the result that in 1896, just thirty-seven years after the landing of the last cargo of human beings on our shores, the latter introduced a bill before the Fifty-fourth Congress providing for the payment of $700 to John R. McRae for services rendered the