I have a few words to say why sentence should not be pronounced against me. I am found guilty of a violation of the Fugitive Slave Law, and it may appear strange to your Honor that I have no sense of guilt. I came, Sir, from the tyranny of the Old World, when but a lad, and landed upon the American shores, having left my kindred and native land in pursuit of some place where men of toil would not be crushed by the property-holding class. Commencing the struggle of life at the tender age of twelve years, a stranger in a strange land, having to earn my bread by the sweat of my brow, your Honor will bear with me. Unaccustomed as I am to appear in Courts, much less to address them, I have feared that I might fail in bearing myself on this occasion worthy of the place and the position I occupy, and the great principles involved in the case before you. I say to your Honor, therefore, if I fail in observing the usual forms of the place, it will be from a want of judgment and error of the head, and not of the heart. Therefore I do not think I shall fare worse at the hands of your Honor, if I state plainly my views and feelings on the great question of the age—the rights of man. I feel that it is a case that will be referred to long after you and I have gone to meet the great Judge of all the earth.
—from Speech of John Hossack