Fugitive Slave Act of 1850

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Fugitive Slave Act of 1850

The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 mandated that states to which escaped slaves fled were obligated to return them to their masters upon their discovery and subjected persons who helped runaway slaves to criminal sanctions. The first Fugitive Slave Act was enacted by Congress in 1793 but as the northern states abolished Slavery, the act was rarely enforced. The southern states bitterly resented the northern attitude toward slavery, which was ultimately demonstrated by the existence of the Underground Railroad, an arrangement by which abolitionists helped runaway slaves obtain freedom.

To placate the South, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 (9 Stat. 462) was enacted by Congress as part of the Compromise of 1850. It imposed a duty on all citizens to assist federal marshals to enforce the law or be prosecuted for their failure to do so. The act also required that when a slave was captured, he or she was to be brought before a federal court or commissioner, but the slave would not be tried by a jury nor would his or her testimony be given much weight. The statements of the slave's alleged owner were the main evidence, and the alleged owner was not even required to appear in court.

Northern reaction against the Fugitive Slave Act was strong, and many states enacted laws that nullified its effect, making it worthless. In cases where the law was enforced, threats or acts of mob violence often required the dispatch of federal troops. Persons convicted of violating the act were often heavily fined, imprisoned, or both. The refusal of northern states to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act was alleged by South Carolina as one reason for its secession from the Union prior to the onset of the Civil War.

The acts of 1793 and 1850 remained legally operative until their repeal by Congress on June 28, 1864 (13 Stat. 200).

References in periodicals archive ?
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).
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.
After the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, Burns and Sims were arrested and returned to slavery.
This pattern of viewing national issues through the lens of an intensely local outlook only intensified when Liberty's successor, the Free Soil Party, confronted the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850.
Money, "The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 in Indiana," Indiana Magazine of History 17 (June/September 1921):161-63; Paul Finkelman, Slavery in the Courtroom: An Annotated Bibliography of American Cases (Washington, D.
In fact, since the American Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 had turned "the trickle of fugitives" lecturing in Britain into "a flood," Remond may have been taken as a fugitive slave by audiences not told otherwise.
The Mexican-American War of 1846-1848--the years during which Brown wrote and published the Narrative--regenerated debates over the territorial expansion of slavery, leading eventually to the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 and the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, during which Missouri served as a proslavery stronghold in the fight for Kansas.
It emerged just as the black population in New York City began to drop dramatically in the wake of increasing Irish immigration in the 1840s and the threat of kidnapping under the guise of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850.
He had come to Syracuse, a city which had hosted a number of anti-slavery conventions, as part of an effort to promote obedience to the new Fugitive Slave Law of 1850.
In the spring of 1854 the runaway slave Anthony Burns was discovered in Boston by his Virginia master Charles Suttle, and as was his right under the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, Suttle called upon local authorities for assistance in recapturing his "property.
The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 was a follow-up to similar legislation of 1793.
However, the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, the Kansas Nebraska Act, the Dred Scott decisions were all set backs for African Americans in the 1850.