Property or Murderer?
The people of Cincinnati held their breath for four long weeks awaiting the verdict for Margaret Garner. Cincinnati did not recognize slaves as property and Margaret's lawyer, abolitionist John Joliffe, wanted the judge to try Margaret for murder. His thought was if she was found guilty she would have to remain in Ohio's custody and the Governer could pardon her at a later date. However, Judge Pendrey ruled that the federal Fugitive Slave Law held more precedence than the state laws regarding slaves. Consequently Margaret was tried and convicted of "destruction of property" and sent back to Kentucky and Gaines. Joliffe did not stop fighting for Garner; he issued an arrest warrant for her, but Gaines moved her around the state of Kentucky, keeping her hidden. Gaines eventually put her, Robert, and their youngest daughter on a boat bound for a family plantation in Arkansas. The boat had an accident and Margaret and her daughter were thrown overboard. The daughter drowned and reportedly Margaret tried to kill herself, but was saved. Margaret died in 1858 of Typhoid Fever. She was still a slave.
Fugitive Slave Law
The Fugitive Slave Law was debated fiercely during the weeks of Margaret Garner's trial. This law stated that slave owners could reclaim any escaped slave in any state - free or not.