George Washington Julian
Location: 320 E. Main St., Centerville, IN 47330 (Wayne County, Indiana)
Installed 2013 Indiana Historical Bureau, H. Clay & J. Rariden, Centerville-Center Township Public Library, and Indiana National Road Association
A political leader defined by his moral convictions, Julian (1817-1899) advocated for abolition, equal rights and land reform, during a period marked by slavery, Civil War, monopolies, and discrimination against blacks, immigrants, and women. As U.S. representative 1849-1851, he supported legislation providing for abolition and equal access to public lands.
Julian, long-time Centerville resident, served as attorney in notable fugitive slave cases, 1850s. As U.S. representative 1861-1871, he demanded recognition of slavery as cause of Civil War and promoted rights of black freedmen; he proposed constitutional amendments granting suffrage regardless of race or sex, "equally, without any distinction or discrimination."
A political leader defined by his moral convictions,1 Julian (1817-1899)2 advocated for abolition,3 equal rights 4 and land reform,5 during a period marked by slavery, Civil War, monopolies, and discrimination against blacks, immigrants, and women.6 As U.S. representative 1849-1851,7 he supported legislation providing for abolition 8 and equal access to public lands.9
Julian, long-time Centerville resident,10 served as attorney in notable fugitive slave cases, 1850s. 11 As U.S. representative 1861-1871,12 he demanded recognition of slavery as cause of Civil War and promoted rights of black freedmen;13 he proposed constitutional amendments granting suffrage regardless of race or sex, "equally, without any distinction or discrimination." 14
Visit Blogging Hoosier History to learn why Julian was a radical representative of moral conviction.
All newspapers accessed via NewspaperArchive.com unless otherwise noted. Journals of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Congressional Globe accessed via A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875, American Memory, Library of Congress. When possible links in citations go directly to source.
 George W. Julian, Political Recollections, 1840-1872 (Chicago: Jansen, McClurg & Co., 1884), passim, 216, accessed Archive.org; George W. Julian, Speeches on Political Questions, 1850-1868 (New York: Hurd and Houghton, 1872), 291-308, accessed Archive.org; George W. Julian, "A Search After Truth," Indiana Magazine of History 32:3 (September 1936): 250-258, accessedIndiana Magazine of History Online, originally published Unitarian Review 29 (January 1888): 48-57; Grace Julian Clarke, George W. Julian (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Commission, 1923), 69; Patrick W. Riddleberger, George Washington Julian: Radical Republican (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Bureau, 1966), 34-36; Geo. W. Julian to Wm Lloyd Garrison, November 18, 1853 in Indiana's War: The Civil War in Documents, Richard F. Nation and Stephen E. Towne, eds. (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2009), 15-17. For further reading: Frederick J. Blue, No Taint of Compromise, Crusaders in Anti-Slavery Politics (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2005). Preview available through GoogleBooks.
Julian worked within the legal system and various political parties to achieve goals shaped by his moral convictions. His commitment to abolition and equal rights (including equality in land distribution) remained remarkably consistent for over fifty years. In order to pursue reform in those areas, Julian often changed political parties, working with whichever party would advance these goals. He explained his position repeatedly throughout his career in his letters, articles, and speeches, including an explanation of his conversion to these causes in the Unitarian Review. In 1853 he wrote to fellow abolitionists, including William Lloyd Garrison, "you will not be blinded or disheartened by the irregular ebb and flow of political currents, or by facts which drift about upon their surface, but you will penetrate beneath it, to those great moral tides, which underlie, and heave onward, the political, the religious, and the whole framework of society." While he modified arguments and approaches he never wavered from working toward equality. In the introduction to a collection of his Speeches on Political Questions, he wrote that "while in a few instances opinions are advanced which have since been modified, my constant and inspiring aim was to declare what I believed to be the truth." An examination of the table of contents to this collection of speeches shows that he constantly and consistently addressed abolition, equal rights, and land reforms, in Congress and throughout the country. Looking back on his career to 1884, Julian wrote in his Political Recollections, "My triumph had no taint of compromise in it…"
 1850 United States Census (Schedule 1), Centerville, Wayne County, Indiana, Roll M432, page 175A, Line 4, May 24, 1850, accessed AncestryLibrary.com; 1860 United States Census (Schedule 1), Centreville, Wayne County, Indiana, Roll M653, page 11, Line 3, June 2, 1860, accessed AncestryLibrary.com; Kansas Memorial: A Report of the Old Settlers' Meeting, Bismark Grove, Kansas, September 15-16, 1879, Kansas Settlers, 1854-1879 Database, accessed AncestryLibrary.com; "George W. Julian," Photograph of Grave, Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, Indiana, accessed Find-A-Grave ; "Julian Stricken," (Richmond, Indiana) Daily Sun Telegram, July 7, 1899; "George W. Julian Dead," Indianapolis News, July 7, 1899, 2, Indiana State Library; "Death List of a Day: George W. Julian," New York Times, July 8, 1899, accessed New York Times Archive; Grace Julian Clarke, George W. Julian (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Commission, 1923), 21, 27-30.
George Washington Julian was born in Wayne County, near Centerville, to Isaac and Rebecca Julian May 5, 1817. He died at his home in Irvington, Marion County, July 7, 1899.
 George Washington Julian, "The Slavery Question," Speech of Hon. George Julian on the Slavery Question Delivered in the House of Representatives, May 14, 1850 (Washington: Congressional Globe, 1850), 3-15, Library of Congress, accessed Archive.org; George Washington Julian, "The Slavery Question in its Present Relations to American Politics, Delivered at Indianapolis, June 29, 1855" inSpeeches on Political Questions, 1850-1868 (New York: Hurd and Houghton, 1872), 102-125, accessed Archive.org; George Washington Julian, "The Cause and Cure of Our National Troubles, in Committee of the Whole on the State of the Union, January 14, 1862 in Speeches on Political Questions, 1850-1868, 154-180, accessed Archive.org; George W. Julian, "A Search After Truth," Indiana Magazine of History 32:3 (September 1936): 250-258, originally published Unitarian Review 29 (January 1888): 48-57, accessed Indiana Magazine of History Online; Oshkosh (Wisconsin) Democrat, November 8, 1850, 2; "National Convention," (Milwaukee, WI) Daily Free Democrat, August, 19, 1852, 2; "Senator Hale's Acceptance of the Nomination for President," (London) Morning Chronicle, September 10, 1852, 6; "People's Convention,"Logansport Democratic Pharos, July 12, 1854, 3; Indianapolis Daily Sentinel, July 7, 1854; "The Ism Convention," Logansport Democratic Pharos, July 19, 1854, 2, originally published (Indiana) State Sentinel, n.d.; "Hon. G. W. Julian -- The Anti-Slavery Convention," (Brookville, Indiana) Indiana American, May 11, 1855, 3; "The Abolition Convention of February 21st," Indianapolis Daily Journal, February 26, 1856, 2; T. C. Macy, Letter to the Editor, Liberty (Indiana) Herald, July 23, 1862, 2; "George W. Julian for Negro Suffrage," Sullivan County Democrat, September 7, 1865, 2, originally published Union City (Indiana) Eagle, n.d.; George Washington Julian, Journal, May 5, 1852, in Clarke, 123. For more information: "The African American Mosaic," Exhibitions, Library of Congress; "Resistance and Abolition," Teacher Resources, Library of Congress ; "Abolition, Anti-Slavery Movements, and the Rise of the Sectional Controversy," African American Odyssey,Library of Congress; The Abolitionists, American Experience, PBS.org.
Men and women, black and white, worked to end slavery for a variety of reasons. Some believed slavery was a moral atrocity, but held on to racist views of African Americans. Many believed abolition should be paired with colonization or should happen gradually and be dependent on education. Others feared the political and economic influence of the slave powers. However, some abolitionists, including Julian, believed in equality of the races, demanded immediate abolition, and worked towards that goal through a variety of avenues. This chart helps demonstrate the complexity of anti-slavery politics in Indiana specifically.
Julian wrote in his article "A Search after Truth" that he decided in the 1840s that "hostility to slavery was henceforward to be the controlling principle of my politics." He worked toward freedom for African Americans through speeches and articles, as a leader of abolitionist groups and political parties, in Indiana courts, and in the U.S. Congress. Julian was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1849 from the Free Soil party, an antislavery party. See footnote 7. In his first speech to Congress in 1850, he strongly denounced slavery and argued for disobeying the Fugitive Slave Act. In the 1850s, he spoke against the law in public, challenged it in Indiana courts, introduced an antislavery legislation, and attended anti-slavery conferences, including one where he met Frederick Douglass. In his journal, Julian credited this meeting with helping him overcome his "ridiculous and wicked prejudice against color which even most anti-slavery men [found] it difficult to conquer." In 1852 Julian was nominated by the Free Soil Party for Vice President. By the mid-1850s Julian was recognized as the leader of the Free Soilers in Indiana. As such he became an essential anti-slavery voice during the organization of the Republican Party in Indiana and nationally, serving as chairman of the Committee on National Organization at the Republican National Convention in 1856. See this chart and the Henry S. Lane marker text for more on the formation of the Republican Party in Indiana. In 1860, Julian was again elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, this time as a Republican. See footnote 12. During the Civil War, Julian argued in an 1862 speech to Congress that the true cause of disunion was slavery and demanded emancipation. See footnote 13. Julian signed the Thirteenth Amendment (bottom of third column) abolishing slavery January 31, 1865, approved by President Lincoln, February 1, 1865. After emancipation, Julian began working toward equal rights for blacks, including suffrage. See footnote 4.
 Memorial to Congress from the American Woman Suffrage Association , November 22, 1871, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives,National Archives and Records Administration;Constitution of the American Woman Suffrage Association (Boston: Press of George H. Ellis, 1881), 5, Votes for Women: Selections from the National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection, 1848-1921, American Memory, Library of Congress; "Woman Suffrage," New York Herald, May 27, 1869, 10; "Woman Suffrage," New York Herald, November 26, 1869, 20; "Another Proposed Reform Candidate for the Presidency," New York Herald, December 9, 1871, 11; "The South and Negro Suffrage," Atlanta Daily Constitution, January 22, 1879, 2; "General News Summary," Waterloo (Iowa) Courier, November 12, 1879, 2; "Woman Suffrage," Sullivan (Indiana) Union, September 28, 1881, 1; "Of Interest to Women," Iola (Kansas) Register, February, 8, 1889, 2; Julian, Political Recollections, 325; Julian, Journal, in Clarke, 69.
Julian advocated for equal rights for all people regardless of sex or race. Julian focused his efforts on fighting slavery, which he saw as a great evil and the most pressing cause, until the achievement of emancipation. See footnote 3, 8, and 13 for more on Julian's abolitionist work. During the close of the war and throughout Reconstruction, Julian advocated for suffrage rights for African Americans, the right to an education, and the right to property. See footnotes 12 and 13 for more on Julian's work for African American rights.
As early as 1847, Julian wrote in his journal that he read an essay on women's suffrage and accepted the argument in favor of voting rights for women. Despite his intellectual acceptance of equal rights for women, he was not active in the movement early in his career. He wrote in his Political Recollections that he believed that ending slavery was more urgent than securing the vote for women: "For the sake of the negro I accepted Mr. Lincoln's philosophy of 'one war at a time,' though always ready to show my hand; but when this was fairly out of the way, I was prepared to enlist actively in the next grand movement in [sic] behalf of the sacredness and equality of human rights."
Julian was active in theAmerican Woman Suffrage Association and served as a vice president of the organization for many years. He spoke in favor of women's suffrage across the county and in Congress and published articles in newspapers and magazines. In 1881, the Sullivan (Indiana) Union ran the following quote from Julian:
"The rights of woman rest upon precisely the same foundation as the rights of man. The logic of democracy and the logic of events join hands, and it seems to me that our chief work is to press upon the minds of all thinking men and women, constantly and persistently, the inevitable alternative of renouncing the very principle of free government, altogether, or else the acceptance of that principle in the whole length and breadth of its application to all citizens regardless of race, color, or sex."
A Kansas paper also carrier a poignant quote from Julian in 1889: "To deny the rights of women is to deny the rights of man. To argue the question of women's rights is to argue the question of human rights." See footnote 14.
Julian saw labor and land rights as important human rights. He thought every person should have access to free public lands in order to support himself. He believed labor needed to be protected from corporations. See footnotes 5, 9, and 12. for more information on Julian's work for land reform.
More research is needed to determine Julian's work in relationship to American Indians. Julian's Jeffersonian ideas about land use clashed with Indian ways of life. However, he did act in opposition to railroad companies trying to appropriate Indian land, but seemingly more on behalf of white settlers living on vacant Indian land.
 George Washington Julian, "The Homestead Bill, House of Representatives, January 29, 1851," in Speeches on Political Questions, 1850-1868 (New York: Hurd and Houghton, 1872), 50-66, accessed Archive.org; "Readjustment," New Brunswick (NJ) Daily Times, September 14, 1878, 2; George W. Julian, "A Search After Truth." Indiana Magazine of History 32:3 (September 1936): 250-258, originally published Unitarian Review 29 (January 1888): 48-57, accessed Indiana Magazine of History Online ; James L. Roark, "George W. Julian: Radical Land Reformer," Indiana Magazine of History 64:1 (March 1968): 25-38, accessed Indiana Magazine of History Online; Riddleberger, 41, 77-78.
From the 1840s to the 1890s Julian worked to give more freedom and opportunity to the individual and to protect him/her from the slaveholders, capitalists, and land monopolists that threatened those rights. In an 1888 article in the Unitarian Review, Julian wrote of his lifelong commitment to ending "oppression and inequality" whether that was slavery or "that system of agricultural serfdom which rests upon the unrestricted monopoly of the soil." Julian viewed land and labor rights as akin to the struggle for human rights and essential for true democracy. Julian was quoted by a New Jersey newspaper:
" Land monopoly is slavery. Through our land grants to railway corporations, our system of Indian treaties, our swamp land legislation, our yet unforbidden curse of land speculation, and other forms of maladministration, we are laying the foundations of a system of serfdom. If our popular system of government is to be preserved, nothing is more certain than that our land policy must be radically reformed."
He greatly influenced federal land policy, especially as it affected the homesteader. In the 1850-1851 session of Congress Julian gave his support to Andrew Johnson's Homestead Bill. On January 29, 1851, Julian made a speech in Congress supporting the bill. He combined advocacy of the Homestead Bill with an abolition argument. He stated that dividing the territories into small farms would help prevent slave plantations because they needed vast estates to function. Julian's speech may have hurt the bill because of his abolition argument. Both the House and Senate failed to approve the bill. Another decade passed before Congress passed the Homestead Act. See footnote 13 for information on Julian's land reform efforts during the Civil War and Reconstruction.
 George W. Julian, "The Slavery Question in its Present Relations to American Politics, Delivered at Indianapolis, June 29, 1855," in Speeches on Political Questions, accessed Archive.org ; Julian, Political Recollections, 114-116, 322; Thornbrough, Indiana in the Civil War Era, 13-14; Blue, No Taint of Compromise, Crusaders in Anti-Slavery Politics, 171-173.
Julian worked for greater equality during period of slavery, Civil War, Reconstruction, monopolies, speculation, and discrimination against blacks, immigrants, and women in Indiana and the United States as a whole. In Indiana, Julian was one of only a few voices for reform. Thornbrough described "the dominant attitude in Indiana as neither proslavery nor antislavery but as anti-Negro." She continued, "There were few persons who wanted to see slavery introduced into the state, but there was widespread and intense racial prejudice and fear of the competition of Negro labor." Julian painted an even more negative picture of Indiana's attitude in the 19th century in his Political Recollections. On the reaction of the people of Indiana and Illinois to the Compromise of 1850, Julian wrote:
"These States were outlying provinces of the empire of slavery. Their black codes and large Southern population bore witness to their perfect loyalty to slave-holding traditions. Indiana, while a Territory, had repeatedly sought the introduction of slavery into her borders. Her black laws had disfigured her legislation from the beginning, and in 1850 were made still blacker by her new Constitution, the 13th article of which, forbidding negroes from coming into the State and white men from encouraging them to remain, was submitted to the people separately, and ratified by a popular majority of nearly ninety thousand votes…the State code made the harboring of a fugitive an offense… The colored people were denied any share in the school fund, but were taxed for its support; and under the law forbidding them to testify in cases where white men were parties, they were at the mercy of any white villain…"
As the Whig party declined across the country in the early 1850s, new parties arose to fill the void in the two party system. One was the American or Know-Nothing Party, an anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant, pro-"nativist" party that can to prominence across the country around 1854. In Indiana and other states, many former Whigs were eager to work with members of various parties to create a fusion party that could defeat the Democratic party. In Indiana, this fusion party was the People's Party which eventually became the Republican Party. See footnote 3 for more on the formation of the Republican party and Julian's role. In Indiana and other parts of the country, many Republican leaders catered to the Know-Nothing members, but Julian vehemently opposed the nativist, xenophobic party. Julian believed that immigrants made the country stronger. In an 1855 speech delivered in Indianapolis, Julian said of immigrants:
"Let them come. Trodden down by kingly power, and hungering and thirsting after the righteousness of our free institutions, let them have a welcome on these shores. Their motive is a very natural and at the same time honorable one, -- that of bettering their lot. They prefer our country and its government to every other. . . To proscribe him on account of his birthplace is mean and cowardly as to proscribe him for his religious faith or color of his skin. It is the rankest injustice, the most downright inhumanity"
See footnotes 3, 8, 11, and 13 for more information on Julian's battle against slavery and inequality for African Americans. See footnotes 4 and 14 for information on Julian's work for women's rights.
 Dorothy Riker and Gayle Thornbrough, Indiana Election Returns, 1816-1851 (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Bureau, 1960), 119; "Congressional Elections," Bangor (Maine) Daily Whig and Courier, August 17, 1849, 2; "Congressional," Defiance (Ohio) Democrat, December 15, 1849, 2; "August Elections -- House Lost." Janesville (Wisconsin) Gazette, August 23, 1849, 2; "George W. Julian," ( Milwaukee, WI) Daily Free Democrat, September 11, 1852, 2, originally published Boston Commonwealth, n.d.; "Congressional Candidates," Logansport Democrat Pharos, July 23, 1851, 2; Julian, Political Recollections, 72-73; Riddleberger, 41, 46-49, 53-5.
See footnotes 8 and 9 for information on Julian's accomplishments as U.S. Representatives 1849-1851. He was nominated for Congress again in 1851, but lost the election. However, in 1852 he was nominated by the Free Soil Party for Vice-President of the United States. He returned to his legal practice when not in Congress. See footnote 11 for more information on his legal career.
 George Washington Julian, "The Slavery Question," Speech of Hon. George Julian on the Slavery Question Delivered in the House of Representatives, May 14, 1850 (Washington: Congressional Globe, 1850), 3-15, Library of Congress, accessed Archive.org; "The Slavery Question," Congressional Globe, May 14, 1850, 31st Congress, 1st Session, 373, A Century of Lawmaking; "Healing Measures of Congress: Speech of Hon. G. W. Julian of Indiana in the House of Representatives," Congressional Globe, September 25, 1850, 31st Congress, 1st Session, 1299,A Century of Lawmaking; House Journal 46, 31st Congress, February 7, 1851, 242, A Century of Lawmaking ; House Journal 46, 31st Congress, February 8, 1851, 244, A Century of Lawmaking ; House Journal 46, 31st Congress, 2nd Session, January 7, 1851, 117, A Century of Lawmaking ; Congressional Globe, January 7, 1851, 31st Congress, 2nd Session, 181, A Century of Lawmaking; "Thirty-First Congress, Second Session," (Wellsboro, PA) Tioga Eagle, January 16, 1851, 5; Riddleberger, 74-5.
Julian gave several speeches in Congress advocating for the end of slavery and the repeal of the Fugitive Slave Act. His most poignant speech was likely "The Slavery Question" which he delivered to the House in 1850. He also frequently presented petitions from abolitionist citizens in states across the county where he spoke or attended meetings. In 1851 he presented petitions from citizens of Massachusetts for the repeal of the Fugitive Slave Act. Julian also presented a petition from Indiana Quakers "against the existence of slavery generally and particularly against the Fugitive Slave Law." Julian then requested that the committee to which the petition was referred "report a bill for the repeal of the fugitive slave law."
 House Journal 46, 31st Congress, 2nd Session, December 10, 1850, 39, A Century of Lawmaking ; House Journal 46, 31st Congress, 2nd Session, January 28, 1851, 200, A Century of Lawmaking ; "The Public Lands," Congressional Globe, 31st Congress, 2nd Session, January 29, 1851, 135, A Century of Lawmaking; George Washington Julian, "The Homestead Bill, House of Representatives, January 29, 1851," in Speeches on Political Questions, 1850-1868 (New York: Hurd and Houghton, 1872), 291-308, accessed Archive.org; James L. Roark, "George W. Julian: Radical Land Reformer." Indiana Magazine of History 64:1 (March 1968): 25-38 accessed Indiana Magazine of History Online.
In 1851, Julian spoke to Congress about why he supported the Homestead Bill, which would distribute public land in limited quantities freely to settlers who would live on and improve their plot, or "homestead." Julian argued that all people had an "inalienable" and "natural right" to make a home from the soil. He argued against the contemporary practice of providing large grants to companies and speculators who then required that people work for and rent from them. He referred to land monopolies in the North as "white slavery." He used the opportunity to make a strong argument against slavery as well. He argued in front of Congress that the vast plantations of rich slave owners were not as productive as they would be if they were broken into plots held by individual owners. Julian said:
"The freedom of the public lands is therefore an anti-slavery measure. It will weaken the slave power by lending the official sanction of the government to the natural right of man, as man, to a home upon the soil, and of course to the fruits of his own labor. It will weaken the system of chattel slavery, by making war upon its kindred system of wage slavery, giving homes and employment to its victims, and equalizing the condition of the people."
The bill failed in both the House and the Senate. According to Roark's 1968 article, Julian's abolition argument may have hurt the bill's chances of passing. Eleven years later however, after Julian's return to Congress, the Homestead Act was passed. See footnote 12.
 Wayne County Marriage Records , March 11, 1811 to March 23, 1860, compiled by Beverly Yount, 1974, Centerville and Center Township Library, Centerville, Indiana, copy at IHB; J. David Baker, Postal History of the United States 2 (Louisville, KY: Philatelic Bibliopole, 1976), 912; "Gasoline Station Will Replace 109-Year-Old Centerville Home," Palladium-Item Richmond (Indiana), May 4, 1955, 14, copy provided by applicant and held by IHB; Clarke, George W. Julian, 27-31, 47-9, 57, 61; Riddleberger, George Washington Julian: Radical Republican, 1-4, 14-5, 21-22, 277.
Secondary sources agree that Julian was born in Centerville (then called Centreville), Indiana. Census records support this and show that he remained in Centerville for most of his life and maintained a law practice there. See footnote two for census records and footnote 11 for information on his law practice. In 1845 he married Ann Elizabeth Finch at Centerville. According to Clarke, after their wedding, the Julians moved into "a one-story brick residence, still standing, a little south of the Methodist church in Centerville." The house "at the southwest corner of East Main and Third Streets" in Centerville was torn down in 1955. According to Riddleberger, Julian moved from the Centerville house to Irvington in 1873. Julian's home in the Irvington Historic District still stands as of 2013. More research is needed to locate primary sources for Julian's residences.
 All Indianapolis newspapers in this footnote accessed via Indiana State Library. "[New] Trial in this State on Charge of Harboring Fugitives," Indiana Daily Journal, December 13, 1854, 1; "U.S. v. Benjamin Waterhouse," Indianapolis Daily Journal, December 13, 1854, 1; E. M. Huntington, Letter to the Editor, December 20, 1854, Indianapolis Journal, December 23, 1854, 2; "The Fugitive Slave Case ," Indianapolis Daily Journal, November 28, 1857, 2; "The Fugitive Slave Case," Indianapolis Daily Journal, November 30, 1857, 2, 3; "The Fugitive Slave Case before U.S. Commissioner Rea," Indianapolis Daily Journal, December 1, 1857, 3; "The Fugitive Slave Case," Indianapolis Daily Journal, December 2, 1857, 3; "Escape and Recapture of the Fugitive," "The Fugitive Slave Case before U.S. Commissioner Rea," Indianapolis Daily Journal, December 3, 1857, 3; "Vallandingham Charged with Kidnapping," Indianapolis Daily Journal, 3; "The Fugitive Slave Case," Indianapolis Daily Journal, December 5, 1857, 2; "Vallandingham Charged with Kidnapping," Indianapolis Daily Journal, December 5, 1857, 3; "The Fugitive Slave Case," Indianapolis Daily Journal, December 5 1857, 2; "The Fugitive Slave Case, and 'A Supposed Case,'" Indianapolis Daily Journal, December 7, 1857, 2; "The Habeas Corpus Trial; Before Judge Wallace," "The Kidnapping Case; Before His Honor, Mayor Wallace," "The Fugitive Off!" "Peace Triumphant," "The Abolitionists," Indianapolis Daily Sentinel, December 7, 1857; "Mayor Wallace," Indianapolis Daily Sentinel, December 8, 1857, 3; "Indianapolis Fugitive Slave Case - Obstructing the Railroad, His Delivery at the Louisville Jail," Indianapolis Daily Sentinel, December 8, 1857, 3, originally Louisville Courier, December 7, 1857, n.p.; "The Fugitive Case Concluded," Indianapolis Daily Sentinel, December 7, 1857, 2; Julian, Political Recollections, 163-4; Clarke, George W. Julian, 47-50; Riddleberger, George Washington Julian , 13-15; Charles H. Money, "The Fugitive Slave Law in Indiana," Indiana Magazine of History 17:3 (September 1921), 257-297, accessed Indiana Magazine of History Online.
Julian was admitted to the Indiana bar in 1840 and practiced law when not serving in Congress. In 1850, Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act , which not only prohibited Hoosiers from aiding escaping slaves but required them to return self-emancipated African Americans to their enslavers. Many opposed the law and challenged it in the courts. In the 1850s, Julian acted as a lawyer both for African Americans who were claimed as slaves and for those white Hoosiers who had helped slaves escape. According to Riddleberger, "after 1850 a lawyer in any of the states lying on the north shore of the Ohio River could, if he were so inclined, devote some of his practice to fugitive slave cases." While more research is needed to determine the number and impact of fugitive slave cases involving Julian, two examples are presented here.
In December 1854, Julian and E. H. Brackett acted as defense attorneys in a case against Benjamin Waterhouse, who was accused of harboring fugitive slaves named Tom and Jim. Tom and Jim allegedly escaped from Kentucky slave master Daniel Payne and had travelled through Indiana to Canada. Waterhouse was found guilty of harboring the men while in Indiana. The law provided for a much harsher penalty, but due to Julian and Brackett's efforts, Waterhouse served only one hour in prison and paid a $50 fine - a small success for those working to defeat the Fugitive Slave Act.
In December 1857, Julian served as an attorney in a complex set of related cases challenging the Fugitive Slave Act on behalf of an African American man, likely named West. A Kentucky slaveholder named Austin Vallandingham claimed that West was his slave and had escaped into Illinois. Vallandingham sent a slavecatcher to apprehend West. When the slavecatcher took West from Illinois, intending to bring him to Kentucky, they passed through Indianapolis. This gave Julian and other abolitionist lawyers an opportunity to challenge the Fugitive Slave Act and possibly aid West. The abolitionists tried several different tactics, and were involved in trials at the local and federal levels. They began by charging Vallandingham with kidnapping a free man. Indianapolis Judge William Wallace released West but he was immediately arrested by a U.S. marshall on charges from Vallandingham of being an escaped slave. Julian and other abolitionists now acted as West's defense in a trial before U.S. Commissioner John H. Rea. Vallandingham was unable to provide official documentation of ownership and gave inconsistent testimony and evidence throughout the trial. Strangely, in an attempt to prove that West was indeed his slave, Vallandingham testified that he had cut off one of West's finger joints --- but West had no such injury. Among other tactics, the defense tried to delay the case, cited the Dred Scott Case, and argued that by bringing West into Indiana, where slavery was illegal, Vallandingham had unwittingly freed West. Despite their best efforts, the abolitionists were unable to help West. In his Political Recollections, Julian wrote, "After allowing secondary proof where the highest was attainable, and permitting hearsay evidence and mere rumor, the Commissioner [Rea] granted his certificate for the removal of the adjudged fugitive…" When the case was brought again to Judge Wallace, Julian explained that "under cover of an infamous law, and by the help of truculent officials, he [West] was remanded into slavery."
When all hope of a fair outcome was lost, Julian and others sympathetic to West, attempted to plan his escape. Julian recalled:
"The counsel for the negro, with a dozen or more who joined them, resolved upon one further effort to save him. The project was that two or three men selected for the purpose were to ask of the jailer the privilege of seeing him the next morning and giving him goodbye; and while one of the party engaged the jailer in conversation, the negro was to make for the door, mount a horse hitched near by, and effect his escape… unfortunately [he] mounted the wrong horse…and when he saw the jailer in pursuit, and heard the report of his revolver, he surrendered, and was at once escorted South... This is the only felony in which I was ever involved, but none of the parties has any disposition whatever to confess it at the time."
 Worthington (Indiana) White River Gazette , July 18, 1860, 3; (Raleigh, North Carolina) Weekly Standard, October 17, 1860, 2; Burlington (Iowa) Daily Hawk Eye, October 22, 1860, 3; Goshen (Indiana) Times, October 18, 1860, 2; "Indiana," (Gettysburg, PA) Adams Sentinel, October 24, 1860, 2, originally published Indianapolis Journal, n.d.; Janesville (Wisconsin) Daily Gazette, July 6, 1861, 6; "Speech of George W. Julian,"Liberty (Indiana) Weekly, June 25, 1862, 1; "Homesteads in Rebellious States," Congressional Globe, May 13, 1864, 38th Congress, 1st Session, 2249-52, Century of Lawmaking; "House of Representatives," (London) Anglo American Times, April 3, 1869, 10; George W. Julian, "The Cause and Cure of Our National Troubles, in Committee of the Whole on the State of the Union," in Speeches on Political Questions, 155-180, accessed Archive.org; George W. Julian, "Confiscation and Liberation, in the House of Representatives, May 23, 1862, in Speeches on Political Questions, 192-211, accessed Archive.org; James L. Roark, "George W. Julian: Radical Land Reformer," Indiana Magazine of History 64:1 (March 1968): 25-38; Bruce Tap, Over Lincoln's Shoulder: The Committee on the Conduct of the War (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1998), passim.
In 1860, Julian was again elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. The Goshen (Indiana) Times reported that Julian was elected by a "nearly 6,000 majority" and called him "one of the ablest men in the State." Other newspapers complained that he was too radically abolitionist
During the Civil War, Julian served on the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War which investigated management of the war and encouraged emancipation and employment of African Americans, first as laborers, and later also as soldiers, as means of winning the war. In an 1862 congressional speech, Julian argued: "In the battles of the Revolution, and in the War of 1812, slaves and free men of color fought with a valor unexcelled by white men. Are we afraid that a like honor to the colored man would be repeated, and thus testify against his enslavement?"
Julian argued in Congress in support of the Homestead Act in 1862 as a measure to benefit the Union. By this time, land appropriation by railroads, capitalist groups, and speculators had increased and a more effective homestead measure was called for by Republicans. Julian spoke during the debate, advocating for homesteading as the best way to bring money to the Union and repay the nation's debt to it's soldiers, black and white. Lincoln signed the Homestead Act May 20, 1862. Julian stated that its passage was "a magnificent triumph of freedom and free labor over the slave power."
Julian also supported the Second Confiscation Act of 1862 which would confiscate all property from rebels and redistribute it as homesteads for people who had aided the Union - including African American soldiers and laborers. He championed bringing homesteading to the South to break up the plantations, thus destroying both the aristocracy and the land monopolies. Julian furthered his ideas on abolition and land confiscation during a debate in Congress in 1862. He stated that the war was a fight to end slavery and demanded "instant, decisive, defiant action" to emancipate enslaved people (not just a proclamation of emancipation). His plan included: arming freedmen, confiscation of all rebel property, and redistribution of plantation land to freedmen. Redistribution of rebel lands to freedman became one of Julian's main concerns during the war.
Julian was appointed Chairman of the Committee on Public Lands in December 1863. For the next eight years he used this office to work to combine abolition (later reconstruction) and land reform. Julian presented a sweeping land reform bill to Congress March of 1864, that would redistribute millions of acres of southern land to soldiers and freedmen, a repeal of the joint resolution of the previous year. Julian argued for homesteads for black soldiers in Congress:
"They have enlisted in the service of their country; they are enduring all the perils and hardships of war; they are helping by their valor achieve our victories and save the nation from impending destruction; they are to-day covering themselves with glory under General Grant, in driving back General Lee and his legions . . . Why would [one] . . . refuse to grant them, at the end of the war, a home on the land of their oppressors, who have enslaved their race for more than two hundred years, and at last sought both their lives and the life of the Republic?"
The bill narrowly passed the House May 12, 1864, but before it reached the Senate, the Attorney General ended confiscation. In 1866 Congress passed Julian's Southern Homestead Bill which gave 50,000,000 acres of public land in the South to homesteaders.
On March 15, 1869 Julian was announced as member of Standing Committee on Reconstruction. For more information on Julian's role during reconstruction see: Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 (New York: Perennial Classics, HarperCollins Publishers, 2002), 68, 236, 246, 451.
 "The Proceedings of Congress," New York Times, June 10, 1862, 5; "Speech of George w. Julian," Liberty (Indiana) Weekly Herald, June 25, 1862; "George W. Julian for Negro Suffrage," Sullivan County Democrat, September 7, 1865, 2, originally published Union City (Indiana) Eagle, n.d.; "No Title," Sullivan County Democrat, September 7, 1865, 2, originally published(Indiana) State Sentinel, n.d.; "John S. Reid and George W. Julian -- The Principles They Avow and Advocate." Connersville (Indiana) Examiner, August 26, 1868, 2, originally printed Brookville Democrat, n.d.; Julian,Political Recollections, 263-9; Vernon Burton, "Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877," in A Companion to 19th Century America, William L. Barney, ed. (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2001), 47.
Julian arrived in Washington D.C. to take his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives during the secession crisis. See footnote 12. Throughout the Civil War, he worked to make clear that slavery was the cause of the war and that only complete freedom for all people would justify the losses caused by that war. In an 1862 speech to Congress printed in the Liberty (Indiana) Weekly Herald, Julian stated:
"Sir, the people of the loyal states understand . . . They know that slavery lies at the bottom of all our troubles. They know that but for this curse this horrid revolt against liberty and law would not have occurred. They know that all the unutterable agonies of our many battlefields, all the terrible sorrows which rend so many thousands of loving hearts, all the ravages and desolation of this stupendous conflict, are to be charged to slavery."
In 1865, Julian argued for suffrage rights for southern blacks. In a speech to Congress, Julian advocated for "the immediate bestowal of the elective franchise on all loyal men of the South, irrespective of color." According to the Union City (Indiana) Eagle, "Not alone from motive of philanthropy or of exclusive justice to the black man -- by the aid of whose blood and toil the rebellion had ultimately prostrated -- was this urged, but also from the consideration that the best interests of the entire country, and especially the salvation of the Sothern States, demanded it." The Indiana State Sentinel reported that Julian made a speech in Muncie in which he said the people of Indiana will have to decide on negro suffrage, not Congress but that he "fully committed himself to the principle of universal suffrage." While Julian believed in universal suffrage, he worked to achieve the vote for southern blacks first as it was more likely to be granted because northerners worried about southern leaders returning to power. Julian recalled this suffrage campaign in his Political Recollections:
"My task was an arduous one, but I found the people steadily yielding up their prejudices, and ready to lay hold of the truth when fairly and dispassionately presented… The question involved the welfare of both races … not merely the fate of the negro, but the safety of society. It was, moreover, a question of national honor and gratitude, from which no escape was morally possible. To leave the ballot in the hands of the ex-rebels, and withhold it from these helpless millions, would be to turn them over to the unhindered tyranny and misrule of their enemies…and making the condition of the freedmen more intolerable than slavery itself through local laws and police regulations."
According to Burton's 2001 essay, "Despite the mountains of scholarship that has been produced, no consensus exists on the causes or consequences of the war, except that all serious historians credit slavery as its underlying root." Julian and other Radical Republicans were ahead of their time in recognizing slavery as the main cause of unrest and war. Once abolition was achieved Julian worked toward rights for African Americans and women, especially that of suffrage. He also fought for the common person's right to hold land, standing up to large railroad companies that were taking public lands for private use. However, he did see a shift in attitude in his own lifetime. Julian wrote in his Political Recollections, "step by step I saw my constituents march up to my position" and accept that ending slavery was essential to moving forward as a democratic nation.
 House Journal 67, 40th Congress, 3rd Session, December 8, 1868, 23, A Century of Lawmaking ; "Amendment of the Constitution," Congressional Globe, 40th Congress, 3rd Session, 21, December 8, 1868, 21, A Century of Lawmaking; "A Bill Further to Extend the Right of Suffrage in the District of Columbia," H.R. 1530, 40th Congress, 3rd Session, December 14, 1868, A Century of Lawmaking; "A Bill Further to Extend the Right of Suffrage in the Territories of the United States," H.R. 1531, 40th Congress, 3rd Session, December 14, 1868, A Century of Lawmaking; House Journal 67, 40th Congress, 3rd Session, December 14, 1868, 56, A Century of Lawmaking ; House Journal 68, 41st Congress, 1st Session, March 15, 1869, 40, A Century of Lawmaking ; "Amendment of the Constitution," Congressional Globe, 41st Congress, 1st Session, March 15, 1869, 72, A Century of Lawmaking; George Washington Julian, "The Slavery Yet to be Abolished, Delivered at Various Points in Michigan and Iowa in the Year 1874," in Later Speeches on Political Questions (Indianapolis: Carlon & Hollenbeck, 1889), 58-78, accessed Archive.org; George Washington Julian, "Suffrage in the District of Columbia, House of Representatives, January 16, 1866," in Speeches on Political Questions, 1850-1868 (New York: Hurd and Houghton, 1872), 291-308, accessed Archive.org; "Woman Suffrage,"New York Herald, May 27, 1869, 10; "Woman Suffrage," New York Herald, November 26, 1869, 20; New Philadelphia (Pennsylvania) Ohio Democrat, January 27, 1871, 2.
According to the House Journal and Congressional Globe, Julian proposed a constitutional amendment to Congress December 8, 1868 (H.R. 371). The bill was ordered to be printed, but does not appear with the otherBills and Resolutions of the 40th Congress. According to Julian's Political Recollections, the amendment read: "the right of suffrage in the United States shall be based on citizenship, and shall be regulated by Congress… all citizens of the United States whether native or naturalized shall enjoy this right equally, without any distinction or discrimination whatever founded on race, color or sex." After the resolution was voted down, Julian attempted to make further inroads for women's suffrage by presenting more targeted bills, including House Resolution 1530 which would have given the women of the District of Columbia the right to vote, and House Resolution 1531 which would have provided women in the territories with the right to vote. He continued this tactic for the rest of his term in the House. According to the House Journal and the Congressional Globe, Julian introduced another resolution (H. R. 15) during the 41st Congress, First Session, proposing a constitutional amendment granting universal suffrage in the next Congress, which he modeled after the recently passed Fifteenth Amendment. Women were not granted the right to vote until Congress passed the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920.