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Encyclopedia > Fugitive Slave Law of 1793
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The 1793 Fugitive Slave Law was written in response to a conflict between Pennsylvania and Virginia. Although the problem of fugitive slaves was addressed at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 (in Article IV, Section 2 in the final document), there was an assumption that interstate cooperation would allow this provision to be enforced. In reality, differences of moral attitudes and questions over legal responsibility for enforcement made the rendition of fugitives difficult. State nickname: The Keystone State Other U.S. States Capital Harrisburg Largest city Philadelphia Governor Ed Rendell (D) Senators Arlen Specter (R) Rick Santorum (R) Official languages None Area 119,283 km² (33rd)  - Land 116,074 km²  - Water 3,208 km² (2. ... State nickname: Old Dominion Other U.S. States Capital Richmond Largest city Virginia Beach Governor Mark R. Warner (D) Senators John Warner (R) George Allen (R) Official languages English Area 110,862 km² (35th)  - Land 102,642 km²  - Water 8,220 km² (7. ... In the history of slavery in the United States, a fugitive slave was a slave who had escaped his or her masters often with the intention of traveling to a place where the state of his or her enslavement was either illegal or not enforced. ... This article discusses the history of the United States Constitution. ...


The particular case that forced the U.S. Congress's hand in 1793 centered around John Davis. Pennsylvania's governor, Thomas Mifflin, sought the extradition of three Virginians accused of kidnapping Davis and taking him to Virginia. Virginia's governor, Beverly Randolph, refused the extradition request on the grounds that Davis was a fugitive slave subject to rendition. Mifflin objected, claiming that Davis was free and should be protected. The 1793 Fugitive Slave Law was written in response to this interstate struggle. This law marked the first of several federal attempts to balance the rights of personal liberty and personal property when one state's recognition of liberty directly impinged on another state's recognition of property rights in slaves. The Congress of the United States is the legislative branch of the federal government of the United States of America. ... 1793 was a common year starting on Tuesday (see link for calendar). ... John Davis is the name of several persons: John Davis (1550?-1605), an English navigator and explorer. ... Thomas Mifflin , John Singleton Copley, 1773. ...


Although slaves' legal status as property disqualified them from claiming constitutional rights, the Fugitive Slave Law of 1793 denied these rights to freed slaves as well. Escaped slaves were not allowed jury trials, and it was not uncommon for runaways to be refused permission to present proof of their freedom in court. Jump to: navigation, search This article may be confusing for some readers, and should be edited to enhance clarity. ...


The law gave teeth to the provisions of the U.S. Constitution that protected slavery. It made it a federal crime to assist an escaping slave, and established the legal mechanism by which escaped slaves could be seized (even in "free" states), brought before a magistrate, and returned to their masters. The Act made every escaped slave a fugitive-for-life, liable to recapture at any time anywhere within the territory of the United States, along with any children subsequently born of enslaved mothers. A whole industry of slave-catching developed in response to the Act, and even free blacks were sometimes unlawfully seized by slave-catchers and sold into slavery. The Act had a chilling effect on the lives of the one-fifth of the American population that was of African descent, and the Underground Railroad developed in response to it. Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act overwhelmingly in February 1793, and President George Washington signed it into law on February 12, 1793. Page I of the Constitution of the United States of America Page II of the United States Constitution Page III of the United States Constitution Page IV of the United States Constitution The Syng inkstand, with which the Constitution was signed The Constitution of the United States is the supreme... Jump to: navigation, search The Buxton Memorial Fountain, celebrating the emancipation of slaves in the British Empire in 1834, London. ... Jump to: navigation, search The Underground Railroad was a network of clandestine routes by which African slaves in the 19th century United States attempted to escape to free states, or as far north as Canada, with the aid of abolitionists. ... A congress is a gathering of people, especially a gathering for a political purpose. ... Jump to: navigation, search George Washington (February 22, 1732–December 14, 1799) was an American planter, political figure, the highest ranking military leader in US history and first President of the United States. ... February 12 is the 43rd day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... 1793 was a common year starting on Tuesday (see link for calendar). ...


Excerpted text of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1793

ART. 4. For the better security of the peace and friendship now entered into by the contracting parties, against all infractions of the same, by the citizens of either party, to the prejudice of the other, neither party shall proceed to the infliction of punishments on the citizens of the other, otherwise than by securing the offender, or offenders, by imprisonment, or any other competent means, till a fair and impartial trial can be had by judges or juries of both parties, as near as can be, to the laws, customs, and usage's of the contracting parties, and natural justice: the mode of such trials to be hereafter fixed by the wise men of the United States, in congress assembled, with the assistance of such deputies of the Delaware nation, as may be appointed to act in concert with them in adjusting this matter to their mutual liking. And it is further agreed between the parties aforesaid, that neither shall entertain, or give countenance to, the enemies of the other, or protect, in their respective states, criminal fugitives, servants, or slaves, but the same to apprehend and secure, and deliver to the state or states, to which such enemies, criminals, servants, or slaves, respectively below [sic]....

See also

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External link

  • Text of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793

  Results from FactBites:
 
Fugitive Slave Laws - MSN Encarta (762 words)
Introduction; The Constitution and the Law of 1793; The Law of 1850; Northern Resistance to the Laws
Fugitive Slave Laws, acts passed by the United States Congress in 1793 and 1850, intended to facilitate the recapture and extradition of runaway slaves and to commit the federal government to the legitimacy of holding property in slaves.
Although the constitutionality of the fugitive slave laws was unquestioned, only the force of arms could finally define the nature of the Union, its source of authority, and the boundaries of liberty.
fugitive slave laws - HighBeam Encyclopedia (681 words)
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 Railroad.
As a concession to the South a second and more rigorous fugitive slave law was passed as part of the Compromise of 1850.
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.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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