Edward Snowden and Joshua Glover

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In 1854, a slave named Joshua Glover ran away from the plantation, and came to Wisconsin where he was captured pursuant to the federal Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. While being held in jail awaiting his being shipped back to his owner, a crowd of abolitionists – inspired by Sherman Booth – forced their way into the jail and freed Glover. A series of arrests and prosecutions of Booth by the federal government ensued, with each being struck down by the Wisconsin Supreme Court under writs of habeas corpus. The Wisconsin court ruled that the Fugitive Slave Act was unconstitutional and void.  When the United States Supreme Court reviewed the case, it requested a copy of the record, which the Wisconsin Supreme Court ignored. (See William Raney, Wisconsin: A Story of Progress, pp. 148-149.)

There were, doubtless, many statists at the time who looked upon Booth – as well as Glover’s example – as a “security threat” to the country, deserving of the charge of “treason” for upholding the principle of individual liberty. The comparisons to Edward Snowden are obvious: “why did Glover flee Missouri? Why didn’t he stay in Missouri and ‘work within the system’ to gain his liberty?” Yeah, the same way so many other slaves had secured their freedom! With the help of its lapdog media – with which neither Booth nor Glover had to contend – the federal government demands of Russia what it demanded of Wisconsin in the mid-19th century: the return of one of its subjects.

10:46 am on June 27, 2013