Sunday, September 18, 2022
On Sept. 18, the U.S. Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 which required that people who had escaped from slavery be captured and returned. “And be it further enacted, that any person who shall knowingly and willingly obstruct, hinder, or prevent such claimant, his agent or attorney, or any person or persons lawfully assisting him, her, or them, from arresting such a fugitive from service or labor, . . . or shall harbor or conceal such fugitive, . . . shall be subject to a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars, and imprisonment not exceeding six months. [From Fugitive Slave Act.].“ People who were captured were not allowed to testify in their own defense. “In no trial or hearing under this act shall the testimony of such alleged fugitive be admitted in evidence. . . [From Fugitive Slave Act.]”
- Crash Course History video The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793: Crash Course Black American History #10. One of the ways that the US Constitution baked the institution of slavery into the very core of the new United States was through the fugitive slave clause. The clause required that people who escaped slavery be returned to their enslavers. In parts of the US that didn't want slavery, the clause sometimes went unenforced. Today we'll learn about how Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Law of 1793 to enforce that clause, how enslavers throughout the country used that rule, and the long-term effects of this law.
- Zinn Education Project article Sept. 18, 1850: Fugitive Slave Act Passed