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PASSMORE WILLIAMSON, IN MOYAMENSING PRISON FOR ALLEDGED CONTEMPT OF COURT.
   
Complete Explanation:
An unusual informal portrait of the secretary of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, seated in a prison cell. Williamson was sentenced on July 22, 1855, to imprisonment for his "false return" (i.e., evasive testimony) to a writ of habeas corpus issued by Federal District Court judge John Kane. Williamson's testimony related to his part in the freeing of three slaves owned by U.S. minister to Nicaragua John Hill Wheeler in Philadelphia. Williamson's imprisonment gave rise to heated public controversy over the issue of states' rights and the status of slaves traveling through free territory. Kane's action was heavily criticized in the press.

Williamson was released from prison on November 3, 1855, after giving a new, slightly modified testimony.


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