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Unknown Read and ponder the Fugitive Slave Law!

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC01862 Author/Creator: Unknown Place Written: Boston, Massachusetts Type: Broadside Date: 1850 Pagination: 1 p. ; 68 x 42 cm.

Summary of Content: A large anti-Whig broadside, attacking Samuel A. Elliott of Boston, and re-printing the Fugitive Slave law. Emphasis added with capital letters in some sections. Declares that the law is against the Constitution, habeas corpus and Christianity. States that the law, "...tramples on the Constitution, by its denial of the sacred rights of Trial by Jury, Habeas Corpus, and Appeal..." Appeals to the public, "Freemen of Massachusetts, Remember, that Samuel A. Elliott of Boston, voted for this law, that Millard Fillmore, our Whig President approved it..." Contains three columns, a large banner headline, and text framed in black rules. Backed on linen. Printed at the Spy Office, with black borders.

Background Information: The most divisive element in the Compromise of 1850 was the Fugitive Slave Law, which permitted any African American to be seized and sent south solely on the affidavit of anyone ...claiming to be his or her owner. As a result, free blacks were in danger of being placed in slavery. The law also stripped runaway slaves of the right to a jury trial and the right to testify in their own defense. The law further stipulated that accused runaways stand trial in front of special commissioners, not a judge or a jury, and that the commissioners be paid $10 if a fugitive was returned to slavery but only $5 if the fugitive was freed--a provision that many Northerners regarded as a bribe to ensure that any black accused of being a runaway would be found guilty (the provision was justified by the supposed costs involved). Finally, the law required all U.S. citizens to assist in the capture of escapees.See More

Full Transcript: Read and Ponder the Fugitive Slave Law!
Which disregards all the ordinary securities of PERSONAL LIBERTY, which tramples on the Constitution, by its denial of the sacred rights of Trial ...by Jury, Habeas Corpus, and Appeal, and which enacts, that the Cardinal Virtues of Christianity shall be considered, in the eye of the law, as CRIMES, punishable with the severest penalties,--Fines and Imprisonment....
Sec. 5 And be it further enacted, that it shall be the duty of all marshals and deputy marshals to obey and execute all warrants and precepts issued under the provisions of this act, when to them directed; and should any marshal or deputy marshal refuse to receive such warrant...he shall...be fined in the sum of $1,000... and ALL GOOD CITIZENS are hereby commanded to aid and assist in the prompt and efficient execution of this law whenever their services may be required…
Sec. 6. And be it further enacted. That when a person held to service or labor in any State or Territory of the United States has heretofore or shall hereafter escape into another State or Territory...the person or persons to whom such service or labor may be due...may pursue and reclaim such fugitive person, either by procuring a warrant from some one of the courts, judges or commissioners...or by seizing and arresting such fugitive, where the same can be done without process, and by taking...such person...before such court, judge or commissioner, whose duty it shall be to hear and determine the case of such claimant in a SUMMARY MANNER; and upon satisfactory proof being made, by disposition or affidavit, in writing, to be taken and certified by such court...[A] certificate of such magistracy...shall be SUFFICIENT TO ESTABLISH THE COMPETENCY OF THE PROOF, AND WITH PROOF, ALSO BY AFFIDAVIT, of the identity of the person whose service or labor is claimed to be due.... IN NO TRIAL OR HEARING UNDER THIS ACT SHALL THE TESTIMONY OF SUCH ALLEGED FUGITIVE BE ADMITTED IN EVIDENCE....
Sec. 7. 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...or shall aid, abet, or assist such a person so owing service or labor...directly or indirectly to escape...or SHALL HARBOR or CONCEAL such fugitive...shall, for either of said offences be subject to a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars, and imprisonment not exceeding six months.
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Historical Era: National Expansion and Reform, 1815-1860

Subjects: African American HistorySlaveryUS ConstitutionReligionFugitive Slave ActLawRunaway SlaveWhigsHabeas CorpusCivil RightsChristianityPresident

Sub Era: Slavery & Anti-slavery

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