fugitive slave laws

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fugitive slave laws,

in U.S. history, the federal acts of 1793 and 1850 providing for the return between states of escaped black slaves. Similar laws existing in both North and South in colonial days applied also to white indentured servants and to Native American slaves. As slavery was abolished in the Northern states, the 1793 law was loosely enforced, to the great irritation of the South, and as abolitionist sentiment developed, organized efforts to circumvent the law took form in the Underground RailroadUnderground Railroad,
in U.S. history, loosely organized system for helping fugitive slaves escape to Canada or to areas of safety in free states. It was run by local groups of Northern abolitionists, both white and free blacks.
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. Many Northern states also passed personal-liberty laws that allowed fugitives a jury trial, and others passed laws forbidding state officials to help capture alleged fugitive slaves or to lodge them in state jails. As a concession to the South a second and more rigorous fugitive slave law was passed as part of the Compromise of 1850Compromise of 1850.
The annexation of Texas to the United States and the gain of new territory by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo at the close of the Mexican War (1848) aggravated the hostility between North and South concerning the question of the extension of slavery into the
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. By it "all good citizens" were "commanded to aid and assist [federal marshals and their deputies] in the prompt and efficient execution of this law," and heavy penalties were imposed upon anyone who assisted slaves to escape from bondage. When apprehended, an alleged fugitive was taken before a federal court or commissioner. He was denied a jury trial and his testimony was not admitted, while the statement of the master claiming ownership, even though absent, was taken as the main evidence. The law was so weighted against the fugitives that many Northerners, formerly unconcerned, were now aroused to opposition. New personal-liberty laws contradicting the legislation of 1850 (and described, with some reason, by Southerners as equivalent to South Carolina's notorious ordinance of nullification) were passed in most of the Northern states. Abolitionists fearlessly defied the 1850 act, often mobbing federal officials in attempts to rescue fugitives. In Boston, for instance, the "good citizens," including some of the foremost Brahmins, stormed the federal courthouse, but failed to free the escaped Virginia slave Anthony Burns; moreover, it was thought expedient to have 1,100 soldiers guard him when he was marched aboard ship for his return to bondage. In Lancaster co., Pa., a riot broke out when a federal official ordered Quaker bystanders to help catch a runaway; the Quakers were prosecuted, but not convicted. Other notable fugitive-slave cases arose in Northern courts, and the trials further stirred up public opinion both North and South. The whole dispute, combined with the question of the extension of slavery into the territories, served to set the two sections at each other's throats. The actions of Northern states in nullifying the fugitive slave laws or rendering "useless any attempt to execute them" were cited (Dec. 24, 1860) by South Carolina as one cause for secession. Both acts were finally repealed by Congress on June 28, 1864.
References in periodicals archive ?
Unger also credits Clay with single-handedly pushing through the Compromise of 1850, which brought California into the union as a free state, postponed the problem of slavery in the territories, and enacted an infamous new Fugitive Slave Law.
He was saddened by the needless complexity of his neighbors' lives and by the war of greed (as he saw it) over the border with Mexico; he was angered by the institution of slavery and the Fugitive Slave Law which required his neighbors to report runaway slaves.
A fugitive from slavery was, even if successful, still only a fugitive, and under the terms of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 could be returned to slavery under procedures which make the words "due process" fail on the lips.
72) This included the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 (73) and later the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850.
He includes chapters on the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, purporting to ban slavery in the Northwest Territory; on the persistence of slavery in Indiana and Illinois well into the nineteenth century; on the passage of an ineffective fugitive slave law in 1793; and, new for the third edition, on efforts to end the African slave trade.
Topics include slavery and the Constitutional Convention, adoption of the Fugitive Slave Law, the problem of slavery in the age of Federalism, and the inescapable relationship between Thomas Jefferson and slavery.
When the Fugitive Slave Law went into effect in 1852, Higginson went into overdrive.
Four years after the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 was enacted, Douglass wrote in his newspaper: "The True Remedy for the Fugitive Slave Bill [was a] good revolver, a steady hand and a determination to shoot down any man attempting to kidnap" (111).
Despite this new attitude toward freedom and against slavery after the American Revolution, Northern states regularly enforced the first fugitive slave law for about 40 years after adoption of the U.
Just as this opinion reinforced the sale and control of slaves through slaves codes enacted in individual states, Congress enacted the Fugitive Slave Law in 1850 at the federal level (Woods, 1998, p.
Professor Harrold's Border War begins with an incisive introduction, "Perception of War," and progresses through a series of chapters entitled: "Early Clashes," "Fear and Reaction in the Border South," "Southern Aggression in the Lower North," "Interstate Diplomacy," "Fighting Slavery in the Lower North," "The Struggle for the Border South," "Fighting over the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850," "Pressure on the Border South Increases," "From Border War to Civil War," and "Conclusion.
The Compromise of 1850 was a severe fugitive slave law that increased tensions between the North and the South - even those Northerners who supported the law to preserve the Union despised being forced into the role of slave catchers.