Collection: The Fugitive Slave Law

Victims of the Fugitive Slave Law – Fugitive Slave Law

The remainder of this Tract will be devoted to a record, as complete as circumstances enable us to make, of the Victims Of The Fugitive Slave Law. It is a terrible record, which the people of this country should never allow to sleep in oblivion, until the disgraceful and bloody system of Slavery is swept from our land, and with it, all Compromise Bills, all Constitutional Guarantees to Slavery, all Fugitive Slave Laws. The established and accredited newspapers of the day, without reference to party distinctions, are the authorities relied upon in making up this record, and the dates being given with each case, the reader is enabled to verify the same, and the few particulars which the compass of the Tract allows to be given with each. With all the effort which has been made to secure a good degree of completeness and exactness, the present record must of necessity be an imperfect one, and fall short of exhibiting all the enormities of the Act in question. James Hamlet, of New York, September, 1850, was the first victim. He was surrendered by United States Commissioner Gardiner to the agent of one Mary Brown, of Baltimore, who claimed him as her slave. He was taken to Baltimore. An effort was immediately made to purchase his freedom, and in the existing state of the public feeling, the sum demanded by...

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Northern Men Voting Against Law – Fugitive Slave Law

The name of the Northern men who voted for this cruel kidnapping law should not be forgotten. Until they repent, and do works meet for repentance, let their names stand high and conspicuous on the roll of infamy. Let the “slow-moving finger of scorn” point them out, when they walk among men, and the stings of shame, disappointment, and remorse continually visit them in secret, till they are forced to cry, “my punishment is greater than I can bear.” As to the Southern men who voted for the law, they only appeared in their legitimate character of oppressors of the poor—whom God will repay, in his own time. The thousand-tongued voices of their brother’s blood cry against them from the ground. The following is the vote, in the Senate, on the engrossment of the bill: Yeas: Atchison, Badger, Barnwell, Bell, Berrien, Butler, Davis, of Mississippi, Dawson, A.C. Dodge, of Iowa, Downs, Foote, Houston, Hunter, Jones, of Iowa, King, Mangum, Mason, Pearce, Rusk, Sebastian, Soulé, Spruance, Sturgeon, of Pennsylvania, Turney, Underwood, Wales, Yulee.—27. Nays.: Baldwin, Bradbury, Chase, Cooper, Davis, of Massachusetts, Dayton, Henry Dodge, of Wisconsin, Greene, Smith, Upham, Walker, Winthrop.—12. Absent, or not Voting: —Benton, Borland, Bright of Indiana, Clarke of Rhode Island, Clay, Cass of Michigan, Clemens, Dickinson of New York, Douglas of Illinois, Ewing of Ohio, Felch of Michigan, Hale of New Hampshire, Hamlin of Maine, Miller...

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Warrants issued for Slaves – Fugitive Slave Law

A warrant was issued in Boston, January 10, 1855, by United States Commissioner Charles Levi Woodbury, for the arrest of John Jackson, as a fugitive from service and labor in Georgia. Mr. Jackson, who had been for some time in the city, was nowhere to be found. Rosetta Armstead, a colored girl, was taken by writ of habeas corpus before Judge Jamison, at Columbus, Ohio. Rosetta formerly belonged to Ex-President John Tyler, who gave her to his daughter, the wife of Rev. Henry M. Dennison, an Episcopal clergyman of Louisville, Kentucky. Mrs. D. having deceased, Rosetta was to be sent back to Virginia in care of an infant child, both being placed in charge of a Dr. Miller, a friend of Mr. Dennison. Passing through Ohio, the above writ was obtained. Rosetta expressed her desire to remain in freedom in Ohio. The case was removed to Cincinnati, and was delayed until Mr. Dennison could arrive from Louisville. (Ohio State Journal, March 12, 1855.) The girl was set free; “but was again arrested by the United States Marshal upon the same warrant which Judge Parker had declared illegal; thereupon another habeas corpus was issued, which the Marshal refused to obey; when he was fined $50, and imprisoned for contempt.” Even United States Commissioner Pendery, before whom the case was brought as that of a fugitive slave, pronounced the girl free,...

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Anti-Slavery Act Victims – Fugitive Slave Law

Washington, Indiana. In April, 1853, George, a negro man, was arrested and claimed by a Mr. Rice, of Kentucky, as his slave. Judge Clemens ordered his surrender to Rice, who took him to Louisville, and there sold him to a slave-trader, who took him to Memphis, Tennessee. Here a man from Mississippi claimed that George was his slave, obtained a writ of replevin, and took possession of him. Joshua Glover, colored man, claimed as the slave of B.S. Garland, of St. Louis County, Missouri, was arrested near Racine, Wisconsin, about the 10th of March, 1854. Arrest made by five men, who burst suddenly into his shanty, put a pistol to his head, felled him to the ground, handcuffed him, and took him in a wagon to Milwaukee jail, a distance of twenty-five miles. They swore that if he shouted or made the least noise, they would kill him instantly. When visited, says the Milwaukee Sentinel, “We found him in his cell. He was cut in two places on the head; the front of his shirt and vest were soaking and stiff with his own blood.” A writ of habeas corpus was immediately issued; also a warrant for the arrest of the five men who assaulted and beat him in his shanty. Thousands of people collected around the jail and court-house, “the excitement being intense.” A vigilance committee of twenty-five...

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Synopsis of the Law – Fugitive Slave Law

Section 1. United States Commissioners “authorized and required to exercise and discharge all the powers and duties conferred by this act.” Section. 2. Commissioners for the Territories to be appointed by the Superior Court of the same. Section. 3. United States Circuit Courts, and Superior Courts of Territories, required to enlarge the number of Commissioners, “with a view to afford reasonable facilities to reclaim fugitives from labor,” &c. Section. 4. Commissioners put on the same footing with Judges of the United States Courts, with regard to enforcing the Law and its penalties. Section. 5. United States Marshals and deputy marshals, who may refuse to act under the Law, to be fined One Thousand dollars, to the use of the claimant. If a fugitive escape from the custody of the Marshal, the Marshal to be liable for his full value. Commissioners authorized to appoint special officers, and to call out the posse comitatus, &c. Section. 6. The claimant of any fugitive slave, or his attorney, “may pursue and reclaim such fugitive person,” either by procuring a warrant from some judge or commissioner, “or by seizing and arresting such fugitive, where the same can be done without process;” to take such fugitive before such judge or commissioner, “whose duty it shall be to hear and determine the case of such claimant in a summary manner,” and, if satisfied of the identity...

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Margaret Garner and Seven Others – Fugitive Slave Law

Of this recent and peculiarly painful case we give a somewhat detailed account, mainly taken from the Cincinnati papers of the day. About ten o’clock on Sunday, 27th January, 1856, a party of eight slaves – —two men, two women, and four children— – belonging to Archibald K. Gaines and John Marshall, of Richwood Station, Boone County, Kentucky, about sixteen miles from Covington, escaped from their owners. Three of the party are father, mother, and son, whose names are Simon, Mary, and Simon, Jr.; the others are Margaret, wife of Simon, Jr., and her four children. The three first are the property of Marshall, and the others of Gaines. They took a sleigh and two horses belonging to Mr. Marshall, and drove to the river bank, opposite Cincinnati, and crossed over to the city on the ice. They were missed a few hours after their flight, and Mr. Gaines, springing on a horse, followed in pursuit. On reaching the river shore, he learned that a resident had found the horses standing in the road. He then crossed over to the City, and after a few hours diligent inquiry, he learned that his slaves were in a house about a quarter of a mile below the Mill Creek Bridge, on the river road, occupied by a colored man named Kite. He proceeded to the office of United States Commissioner John...

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More Victims of Anti-Slavery Act – Fugitive Slave Law

Columbia, Penn., (end of March, 1852;) a colored man, named William Smith, was arrested as a fugitive slave in the lumber yard of Mr. Gottlieb, by Deputy Marshal Snyder, of Harrisburg, and police officer Ridgeley, of Baltimore, under a warrant from Commissioner McAllister. Smith endeavored to escape, when Ridgeley drew a pistol and shot him dead! Ridgeley was demanded by the Governor of Pennsylvania, of the Governor of Maryland, and the demand was referred to the Maryland Legislature. Hon. J.R. Giddings proposed the erection of a monument to Smith. James Phillips, who had resided in Harrisburg, Penn., for fourteen years, was arrested May 24, 1852, as the former slave of Dennis Hudson, of Culpepper County, Virginia, afterwards bought by Henry T. Fant, of Fauquier County. He was brought before United States Commissioner McAllister. Judge McKinney volunteered his services to defend the alleged fugitive. The Commissioner, as soon as possible, ordered the man to be delivered up; and, after fourteen years’ liberty, he was taken back to slavery in Virginia. Afterwards, bought for $900, and taken back to Harrisburg. Wilkesbarre, Penn., (Summer of 1852.) Mr. Harvey arrested and fined for shielding a slave. Sacramento, California; a man named Lathrop claimed another as his slave, and Judge Fry decided that the claim was good, and ordered the slave to be surrendered. Mr. Lathrop left, with his slave, for the Atlantic States....

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Present Record of Fugitive Slave Law

With the sad case of Margaret Garner we close, for the present, the record of the Fugitive Slave Law, as its history has been daily writing itself in our country’s annals. Enactment of hell! which has marked every step of its progress over the land by suffering and by crimes,—crimes of the bloodiest dye, groanings which cannot fully be uttered; which is tracked by the dripping blood of its victims, by their terrors and by their despair; against which, and against that Wicked Nation which enacted it, and which suffers it still to stand as their Law, the cries of the down-trodden poor go up continually into the ears of God,—cries of bitterest anguish, mingled with fiercest execrations—thousands of Rachels weeping for their children, and will not be comforted, because they are not. Reader, is your patriotism of the kind which believes, with the supporters of old monarchies, that the Sovereign Power can do no wrong? Consider the long record which has been laid before you, and say if your country has not enacted a most wicked, cruel, and shameful law, which merits only the condemnation and abhorrence of every heart. Consider that this law was aimed at the life, liberty, and happiness of the poor and least-privileged portion of our people—a class whom the laws should befriend, protect, and raise up. What is the true character of a...

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The Fugitive Slave Law

The Fugitive Slave Law was enacted by Congress in September, 1850. It declared that all runaway slaves were, upon capture, to be returned to their masters. In effect, encouraging local officials to “kidnap” suspected slaves, detain them, and transport them back to Southern States and their “owners”. This collection provides a synopsis of the act itself, and specific, named examples of it’s effect on Blacks living in the North.

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