Mr. James Franklin, a blind man, and a resident of Columbia, S.C., was arrested in this city yesterday, having been detected in endeavoring to sell a free negro into bondage. It appears that Franklin, about a week ago, went to Charlotte, N.C., where he made it known that he wished to hire a free negro to go with him and take care of him on a trip to the Virginia Springs. Harmon Proctor, a free negro, was recommended, and accepted the position. Franklin, having made his arrangements, went from Charlotte to Richmond, Va., when he changed his destination, and shortly after left for Greenville, Tennessee, where he has a brother living. After remaining there a few days, Franklin went to Louisville, and thence to Cincinnati, where he chanced to meet a free negro named A.W. Thompson, whom he engaged to accompany him to New Orleans, at which point it was understood that he intended to send Proctor home, taking Thompson for his body servant. In getting as far as Vicksburg, however, Thompson (who is a very bright mulatto, and a fellow of much shrewdness) learned of the disabilities imposed on free negroes by the laws of Louisiana, and prevailed upon Mr Franklin to return, which he did on the Edward J. Gay, which reached here on yesterday afternoon. While the Gay was discharging freight, Thompson prevailed upon Franklin to stop in Memphis for a day or two, and shortly after they made an attempt to sell Harmon Proctor as a slave. Proctor discovered what they were about after they had got him to the slave-dealer’s mart, and showed to the proposed purchaser the evidence of his freedom, which being shown to Mr Franklin, he immediately tore up and destroyed in the presence of the slave-dealer. These facts coming to the knowledge of the officers, the kidnappers, James Franklin (white) and A.W. Thompson (colored), were lodged in jail to await trial, as well also the negro whom they attempted to sell.
James Franklin is said to be a man of means living in Columbia, S.C., and a little fast in his expenditures for a blind man. It is supposed that the wily Cincinnati free negro first conceived the idea of selling Harmon Proctor into slavery, and then inveigled Franklin into it. Fortunately they are all in jail, and the guilty party will be made to suffer the full penalty of the law. – Memphis Enquirer.
The Charlotte Democrat, 9 October 1860.
In the 1850 census of Cleveland County, Harmon Proctor, 18, in the household of white farmer William H. Cabaniss.
On 22 December 1856, Hermon Proctor married Anny Freeman. Rowan County Marriage Records.