Hartford: Published by William S. Marsh, 1820. 48pp. Original printed green wrappers, rear wrapper lacking. Front wrapper re-sewn to text at an early date, with a small hole just touching a couple of words, a three-inch closed tear near the bottom, and minor edge chipping. Moderate staining to text, last two text leaves with repaired closed tears. Overall good condition. Untrimmed. Item #WRCAM56556
"Second edition," following the first of the same year. A startling account of the first wrongful conviction case in the United States, which played out in New England in the early-19th century. Contains an account of the trial itself, along with a summary of events and a sermon preached upon the whole affair by Lemuel Haynes, a veteran of the American Revolution and the first African- American ordained as a minister in the United States. The first two sections contain Haynes' work regarding the Boorn case. The first is his "Narrative" relating the facts of the Boorn-Colvin case; the second part, with its own sectional titlepage, is "Prisoner Released. A Sermon, Delivered at Manchester, Vermont, Lords Day, Jan. 9th, 1820. The Remarkable Interpolation of Divine Providence, In the Deliverance of Stephen and Jesse Boorn, Who Had Been Under Sentence of Death, For the Supposed Murder of Russel Colvin."
"This is one of the most famous cases of American criminal law and a constant reminder that innocent persons can be convicted....Russell Colvin, the alleged victim, had married a sister of the Boorns and had several children by her. He was mentally deficient and disappeared in 1812. Local gossip credited the Boorns with having disposed of him, presumably because he was a burden on the family. In the spring of 1819...the Boorns were arrested and, either from fear or mental weakness, they told stories involving each other in the death of Colvin - Stephen's amounting to a confession of murder. They were tried and sentenced to be hanged; the state legislature, however, commuted Jesse's sentence to life imprisonment. As a last resort a notice was placed in the papers requesting information about Colvin. A farmer in Monmouth County, New Jersey, believed he recognized a hired man in the vicinity from the description. This man, who was mentally deranged, was enticed to Manchester, arriving on December 22, 1819, six weeks before the day set for Stephen's execution. It was definitively established that he was the missing Colvin; he had apparently wandered off of his own volition" - McDade.
"This near miscarriage of justice was turned to account by Rev. Haynes who claimed divine intercession in the affairs of Manchester, Vt. The Boorn brothers were convicted of the murder of a man who had been missing seven years, but who turned up alive during the trial" - Nebenzahl. McDADE 111. COHEN 12384. SABIN 31054. AMERICAN IMPRINTS 1551. NEBENZAHL 13:250.