How the Underground Railroad Worked. Most of the enslaved people helped by the Underground Railroad escaped border states such as Kentucky, Virginia and Maryland. In the deep South, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 made capturing escaped enslaved people a lucrative business, and there were fewer hiding places for them.
How did the Underground Railroad lead to the Fugitive Slave Act?
The Underground Railroad was a secret system developed to aid fugitive slaves on their escape to freedom. The free individuals who helped runaway slaves travel toward freedom were called conductors, and the fugitive slaves were referred to as cargo.
What impact did the US Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 have on the Underground Railroad?
The severity of the 1850 measure led to abuses and defeated its purpose. The number of abolitionists increased, the operations of the Underground Railroad became more efficient, and new personal-liberty laws were enacted in many Northern states.
How did the Fugitive Slave Act alter the Underground Railroad final destination?
After the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act as part of the Compromise of 1850 the Underground Railroad was rerouted to Canada as its final destination. The Act made it illegal for a person to help a run away, and citizens were obliged under the law to help slave catchers arrest fugitive slaves.
How did the railroad affect slavery?
Railroads bought and sold slaves with contracts and elaborate, printed bills of sale. They recorded these events in balance sheets and company account books. Railroads also developed forms for contracts to hire enslaved labor from slaveholders.
How did the Underground Railroad help enslaved African Americans?
How did the Underground Railroad help enslaved African Americans? It provided a network of escape routes toward the North. In his pamphlet Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World, on what did David Walker base his arguments against slavery? They feared that the abolition of slavery would destroy their economy.
How did the Underground Railroad lead to the Civil War quizlet?
How did the Underground Railroad cause the Civil War? *The Underground Railroad was a escape route for fugitive slaves in America. *Slaves would be helped by Northerners or “Quakers” who help slaves escape to Canada. *John Brown believed that this would bring an end to slavery.
How did the US fugitive Act impact runaway slaves?
Passed on September 18, 1850 by Congress, The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was part of the Compromise of 1850. The act required that slaves be returned to their owners, even if they were in a free state. The act also made the federal government responsible for finding, returning, and trying escaped slaves.
Why is the Underground Railroad significant?
The underground railroad, where it existed, offered local service to runaway slaves, assisting them from one point to another. The primary importance of the underground railroad was that it gave ample evidence of African American capabilities and gave expression to African American philosophy.
What is the significance of the Underground Railroad in Canada?
In all 30,000 slaves fled to Canada, many with the help of the underground railroad – a secret network of free blacks and white sympathizers who helped runaways. Canada was viewed as a safe haven, where a black person could be free.
How successful was the Underground Railroad?
Ironically the Fugitive Slave Act increased Northern opposition to slavery and helped hasten the Civil War. The Underground Railroad gave freedom to thousands of enslaved women and men and hope to tens of thousands more. In both cases the success of the Underground Railroad hastened the destruction of slavery.
How did Harriet Tubman affect the Underground Railroad?
Harriet Tubman is perhaps the most well-known of all the Underground Railroad’s “conductors.” During a ten-year span she made 19 trips into the South and escorted over 300 slaves to freedom. And, as she once proudly pointed out to Frederick Douglass, in all of her journeys she “never lost a single passenger.”
Where did the slaves go after the Underground Railroad?
They eventually escaped either further north or to Canada, where slavery had been abolished during the 1830s. To reduce the risk of infiltration, many people associated with the Underground Railroad knew only their part of the operation and not of the whole scheme.
How did the Underground Railroad affect the Civil War?
The Underground Railroad physically resisted the repressive laws that held slaves in bondage. By provoking fear and anger in the South, and prompting the enactment of harsh legislation that eroded the rights of white Americans, the Underground Railroad was a direct contributing cause of the Civil War.
How did the railroads affect African Americans?
They spread the word of higher wages and improved circumstances which helped energize the Great Migration of nearly 500,000 southern African Americans who moved to the North between 1915 and 1919, and those who followed in later decades during the twentieth century to western, as well as northern cities.
What does Underground Railroad mean in history?
-Harriet Tubman, 1896. The Underground Railroad—the resistance to enslavement through escape and flight, through the end of the Civil War—refers to the efforts of enslaved African Americans to gain their freedom by escaping bondage. Wherever slavery existed, there were efforts to escape.
Fugitive Slave Acts
As well as running south, the Underground Railroad went north, not back toward slave-owning states but away from them, all the way to Mexico, which began to restrict slavery in the 1820s and eventually abolished it in 1829, some thirty-four years before Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Although this is historical fact, many visitors to the “Pathways to Freedom” exhibition at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African History in Detroit, which is on display through March 31, are unaware of it.
The reason those stories were not told, according to Patricia Ann Talley, is that they were eventually translated to Spanish.
A peace event in Mexico brought the two together, and they became friends.
A major focus of the show, which was partially supported by the Michigan Humanities Council, is the common histories and experiences of African Americans and Mexicans of African descent.
- “I had no idea how widespread the African race is in Mexico,” she says.
- In the words of historian Sean M.
- In her writings on slavery along the Texas-Mexico border, Kelley is an assistant professor of history at Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York.
- After a protracted conflict, Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821 and immediately began drafting anti-slavery legislation.
- In reality, slavery was one of the factors that contributed to the Texas Revolution, which culminated in the state’s independence from the United States in 1835.
- It is worth noting that most slaves who escaped to Mexico came from Texas and Louisiana to a lesser extent, as did the vast majority of slaves who went northward from areas bordering the northern states, according to Kelley.
- The number of enslaved individuals who escaped to Canada is unknown; estimates range from 30,000 to 100,000.
- “Quantifying this is never going to happen,” Kelley argues, citing a Texas Ranger who estimated the number at four thousand in the eighteenth century.
- According to Kelley, “there was collusion on the side of the Tejanos and some of the Germans” who had landed in Texas.
- Kelley challenges it (“I’m not even sure whether cotton floats,” he says), but he believes the tale is “important beyond” any form of validation.
“The narrative exists, and it implies something,” he adds, referring to the fact that a guy might sail to freedom on the precise commodity that led to his servitude in the first place.
What Were the Fugitive Slave Acts?
Slave laws were implemented in some of the thirteen original colonies as early as 1643 and the New England Confederation, and slave laws were afterwards enacted in a number of the thirteen original colonies. Runaways were prevented from going to Canada by a 1705 statute established by New York, while Virginia and Maryland developed laws giving rewards for the apprehension and return of fugitive enslaved individuals in the United States and Canada, among other things. As at the time of the Constitutional Convention (in 1787), numerous northern states had abolished slavery.
Southern officials were afraid that these new free states might serve as safe havens for fugitive slaves and were relieved to discover that the Constitution had a “Fugitive Slave Clause.” According to this clause (Article 4, Section 2, Clause 3) in the case that a person confined to service or labor fled to a free state, he or she would not be liberated from their bondage obligations.
Fugitive Slave Act of 1793
However, even after the Fugitive Slave Clause was ratified into law in the United States Constitution, anti-slavery feeling persisted in most of the Northern United States during the late 1780s and early 1790s, with many petitioning Congress to abolish the institution entirely. Ultimately, Congress approved the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793, in response to increased pressure from Southern legislators, who believed that the slave question was causing a wedge between the newly constituted states. Many of the provisions of this decree were identical to those of the Fugitive Slave Clause, but it offered a more thorough description of how the legislation was to be put into effect.
- In the case that they apprehended a suspected runaway, these hunters were required to take them before a judge and present documentation demonstrating that the individual was their property.
- A $500 fine was also levied on anybody who assisted in harboring or concealing fugitives under the terms of the statute.
- Northerners were outraged at the prospect of their states becoming a hunting ground for bounty hunters, and many contended that the law amounted to legalized kidnapping in the first instance.
- Most Northern states refused to be implicated in the system of slavery and, as a result, they purposefully ignored to enforce the legislation.
They even enacted “Personal Liberty Laws,” which granted alleged runaways the chance to stand trial in front of a jury and also safeguarded free blacks, many of whom had been seized by bounty hunters and sold into slavery.
Prigg v. Pennsylvania
It wasn’t until the 1842 Supreme Court case Prigg v. Pennsylvania that the validity of Personal Liberty Statutes was called into question. After capturing a suspected slave in Pennsylvania, Edward Prigg, a Maryland man, was charged with kidnapped and sentenced to prison. The Supreme Court found in Prigg’s favor, establishing the precedent that federal law trumped any state actions that sought to interfere with the Fugitive Slave Act, as interpreted by the Court. Despite landmark judgements such as Prigg v.
As early as the mid-nineteenth century, thousands of enslaved individuals had fled to free states through networks such as the Underground Railroad.
Fugitive Slave Act of 1850
Because of rising pressure from Southern lawmakers, Congress amended the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850 and approved a new version the following year. This new rule, which was enacted as part of Henry Clay’s renowned Compromise of 1850—a set of laws that helped quell early aspirations for Southern secession—forcibly required individuals to aid in the arrest of runaway children. Moreover, it removed the right to a jury trial from the hands of enslaved people and increased the punishment for interfering with the rendition process to $1,000 and six months in prison.
- They were compensated more for returning a suspected runaway than they were for freeing them, prompting many to believe the legislation was prejudiced in favor of slaveholders in the Southern United States.
- As a result, states such as Vermont and Wisconsin developed additional legislation aimed at circumventing and even nullifying the rule, while abolitionists stepped up their efforts to help runaways.
- On rare occasions, the resistance erupted into riots and revolutions.
- Similar rescues were carried out in the following years in New York, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
Repeal of the Fugitive Slave Acts
Widespread resistance to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 resulted in the statute becoming essentially unenforceable in several Northern states by 1860, with only around 330 enslaved persons successfully returned to their Southern masters. Despite the fact that Republican and Free Soil members periodically filed measures and resolutions relating to the repeal of the Fugitive Slave Act, the statute remained in effect until after the outbreak of the Civil War.
It wasn’t until a joint resolution of Congress passed on June 28, 1864, that both of the Fugitive Slave Acts were abolished.
Fugitive Slave Acts
Historically, the Fugitive Slave Acts were two pieces of legislation established by Congress in 1793 and 1850 (and repealed in 1864) that allowed for the capture and return of fugitive slaves who escaped from one state into another or into a federally administered region. The 1793 legislation carried out Article IV, Section 2 of the United States Constitution by permitting any federal district judge or circuit court judge, as well as any state magistrate, to determine the legal status of an accused fugitive slave without the need for a trial by jury.
- These laws established that fugitives who challenged an initial ruling against them were entitled to a jury trial.
- The Underground Railroad is a term used to describe a system of transportation that allows people to flee their homes.
- Weber (c.1893).
- LC-USZ62-28860) Quiz on the Encyclopedia Britannica This quiz will examine the history of slavery and resistance.
- Who was the leader of the mutiny of 53 enslaved individuals on the Spanish slave ship Amistad that occurred in 1839?
- Take the quiz to find out.
Under this rule, fugitives were not permitted to testify in their own defense, nor were they given the opportunity to stand trial before a jury.
In addition, under the 1850 statute, special commissioners were to have concurrent jurisdiction with the United States courts in the enforcement of the law.
There was a rise in the number of abolitionists, the Underground Railroad activities grew more efficient, and new personal-liberty legislation were established in several Northern states during this period.
The attempts to put the legislation of 1850 into action sparked a great deal of animosity and were very certainly responsible for stoking sectional antagonism as much as the debate over slavery in the territory.
The Library of Congress’s Printed Ephemera Collection is located in Washington, D.C.
Portfolio 22, Folder 12b) A period of time during the American Civil War was regarded to be a period of time during which the Fugitive Slave Acts were still in effect in the instance of Blacks fleeing from masters in border states that were loyal to the Union authority.
It wasn’t until June 28, 1864, that the acts were finally overturned by the legislature. Those in charge of editing the Encyclopaedia Britannica Adam Augustyn was the author of the most recent revision and update to this article.
1850 Fugitive Slave Act · The Underground Railroad · The Underground Railroad in the Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana Borderland
Slave catchers should be on the lookout for African Americans residing in Boston. After the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, the number of slave escapes skyrocketed. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which was intended to prevent slave escapes, had the opposite effect. After 1850, the number of people who escaped from Kentucky climbed by 53 percent. The Fugitive Law, according to one Underground Railroad agent, “has boosted the stock on some of our Western routes, by at least 50 to 75 percent,” according to a statement made in 1855.
- According to news sources, the flight of slaves resembled a stampede.
- Similar legislation passed in 1793 gave slaveholders the ability to retrieve slaves while also requiring states to aid them in their efforts.
- According to the court’s decision, state officials were banned from intervening with fugitive slaves.
- The 1793 Fugitive Slave Law was declared illegal by the Supreme Court, and only federal officers were authorized to execute it.
- According to the 1850 Runaway Slave Act, federal officials were authorized to abduct any African American suspected of being a fugitive.
- Anyone of African descent might be accused of being a slave by agents.
- The word of a slaveholder was regarded adequate evidence that the individual in issue was the runaway in question.
The legal consequences for anyone who help fugitives or impede the law in any way were more severe, with a $1000 fine per fugitive and six months in jail being the most severe penalties.
The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 not only increased the number of escapes in the South, but it also caused many fugitives residing in the Ohio Valley Borderland to travel even further north.
As hundreds of formerly enslaved people dreaded being recaptured, black populations in Indiana and Ohio declined.
According to theLouisville Courier, “.the Fugitive Slave Law cannot be implemented in Ohio and is unlikely to be enacted in the future.” After 1850, slave catchers appointed by the federal government patrolled the Ohio River on a regular basis in search of fugitives.
Agents utilized harsh tactics to abduct and imprison every African-American they came into touch with while acting under federal authority.
Three agents from Washington County, Ohio, were abducted and carried to Virginia, where they were imprisoned for assisting fugitives in 1845.
A word of caution to runaway slaves.
Hudson, Fugitive Slaves, Fugitive Slaves, See p. 83 for information on slaveholder gatherings. According to the Louisville Couriernews, page 5064. The Frontline, pages 107-108. Griffler, Frontline. Hudson’s Fugitive Slaves, Volume 85. Griffler,Frontline,82-83.
Fugitive Slave Act of 1850
“CAUTION! Colored People of Boston” broadside warning of watchmen and police operating as kidnappers and slave catchers published on April 24, 1851 in Boston. Photo courtesy of the public domain It was the Fugitive Slave Acts, which were established by Congress in 1793 and 1850, which authorized the capture and return of fugitive slaves who escaped from one state and fled into another (Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d.). The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which was enacted as part of the Compromise of 1850, demanded that the United States government actively interfere in order to assist slave owners in regaining control over their slave populations (Ohio History Connection, n.d.).
- As a result of politicians’ arguments that African Americans could not be citizens of the United States, they were not allowed any rights under the law (Ohio History Connection, n.d.).
- A further provision of this statute provides that special commissioners have concurrent jurisdiction with federal courts in executing it (Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d.).
- As a result, this was shown to be a blatant example of corruption.
- Actor Anthony Burns portrays scenes from his life after being apprehended and tried under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.
- In response to the severity of this act, a rise in the number of abolitionists emerged, as did the formation of a more efficient Underground Railroad, as well as the establishment of new personal-liberty statutes in the North (Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d.).
- In addition to inciting more antagonism between the North and the South, this conspicuous opposition to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 fueled the debate about slavery in the United States (Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d.).
- The Fugitive Slave Acts were not abolished until June 28, 1864, more than a century after their enactment (Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d.).
Editors of the Encyclopedia Britannica are cited as sources.
United States of America’s Fugitive Slave Acts (1793, 1850).
The information was obtained from the Ohio History Connection.
The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was passed.
It was retrieved from Olson, J.
Mendoza, et al (2015).
American Economic History: A Dictionary and Chronology (American Economic History: A Dictionary and Chronology).
ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara, California. Instructions for Citing This Article (in APA Format): C. A. Paul & Associates, Inc. (2016). The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was passed. Project on the History of Social Welfare. It was retrieved from
The Constitution and the Underground Railroad: How a System of Government Dedicated to Liberty Protected Slavery (U.S. National Park Service)
A new clause for the draft constitution was proposed by Pierce Butler and Charles Pinckney, two South Carolina delegates to the Constitutional Convention that met on August 28, 1787 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It had been more than three months since the Convention had started considering the new structure of governance. Throughout the summer, there had been extensive and bitter disputes over the impact of slavery on the new form of government being established. Many safeguards to maintain the system of human bondage had been requested and achieved by Southerners throughout the years.
- Unknown artist created this piece.
- The Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-6088).
- The three-fifths provision of the new Constitution included slaves in the calculation of congressional representation, resulting in an increase in the power of slave states in both the House of Representatives and the electoral college as a result.
- Exports were exempt from taxation by Congress and the states, which safeguarded the tobacco and rice farmed by slaves from being taxed.
- The Constitution also stated that the national government would suppress “domestic violence” and “insurrections.” When “fugitive slaves and servants” escaped into neighboring states, Butler and Pinckney asked that they be “given up like criminals,” as they had done in the past.
- The next day, without any further debate or even a formal vote, the Convention passed the Fugitive Slave Clause, which became law in 1850.
- Although the word slave was avoided, it appeared that if a slave managed to flee to a free state, that state would be unable to free that person, and any runaway who was apprehended would be turned over to the person who had claimed ownership of the slave in the first place.
- As a result, the phrasing of the sentence, as well as its structural placement, suggested that this was something that the states would have to figure out amongst themselves.
- Northerners were completely unaware of its capacity to cause harm to their neighbors or to disturb their culture.
During a speech to the South Carolina state assembly, General Charles Cotesworth Pinckney (whose younger cousin had submitted the clause) boasted, “We have acquired the right to recapture our slaves in wherever part of America they may seek sanctuary, which is a right we did not have before.” In a similar vein, Edmund Randolph used this phrase to demonstrate that slavery was protected by the Constitution in the Virginia convention.
The author stated that “everyone is aware that slaves are obligated to serve and labor.” Using the Constitution, he contended that “power is granted to slave owners to vindicate their property” since it permitted a Virginian citizen to travel to another state and “take his fugitive slave” and bring “him home.” At the Convention, no one seems to have considered the possibility that the new government might operate as an agent for slaveowners.
- However, only a few years after the Constitution was ratified, the subject of fugitive slaves and the extradition of felons was brought before Congress for consideration.
- However, Virginia’s governor rejected, claiming that the free black had in reality been captured and that thus no crime had been committed.
- As a result, a legislation was passed in 1793 that governed both the return of fugitive felons and the return of runaway slaves.
- Fugitive slave harborers may be fined up to $500 (a large sum of money at the time), and they could also be sued for the value of any slaves that were not recaptured.
- People who did not obey the regulations under these state laws were subject to severe penalties under the law.
- Pennsylvania, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that all of these statutes were unconstitutional because, according to the Court, Congress had the only authority to govern the return of fugitive slaves to their homelands.
- Many northern governments responded by passing legislation prohibiting the use of state property (including jails) for the repatriation of runaway slaves, as well as prohibiting state personnel from taking part in fugitive slave cases.
This landmark anti-slavery ruling mobilized the whole federal government in support of attempts to apprehend runaway slaves in the aftermath of the Civil War.
Fugitive slaves would be extremely difficult to repatriate if they did not have the help of the northern states.
Federal commissioners were appointed in every county around the country as part of the new national law enforcement system.
The commissioners were given the authority to utilize state militias, federal marshals, as well as the Army and Navy, to bring fugitive slaves back to their owners.
The punishment for anybody who assists a slave in fleeing might be six months in jail and a fine of up to a whopping thousand dollars.
It also interfered with the right of the northern states to defend their free black inhabitants from being claimed as fugitives by the federal government.
The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 had a variety of consequences.
Between 1850 and 1861, around 1,000 African-Americans would be deported to the South as a result of this statute.
In state legislatures, courtrooms, and on the streets, there was fierce opposition to the bill throughout the northern United States.
“The Oberlin rescuers at Cuyahoga County prison, c.1859,” says the artist.
The Oberlin-Wellington Rescue became renowned as a result of this incident.
During this time of year when we commemorate Constitution Day, it is important to remember that this document protected slavery and laid the groundwork for the federal government to hunt down and arrest people whose only crime was the color of their skin and their desire to enjoy “the Blessings of Liberty” that the Constitution claimed it was written to achieve.
In some areas, such as upstate New York and northern Ohio, the 1850 law was virtually unenforceable because the average, usually law-abiding citizens participated in the Underground Railroad, choosing to support human liberty and fundamental justice even when the laws of the United States and the Constitution itself criminalized such activities.
Paul Finkelman, Ph.D. He has written more than 50 books and hundreds of articles, and he is a prolific writer. His most recent book, Supreme Injustice: Slavery in the Nation’s Highest Court, was released by Harvard University Press in 2018 and is about slavery in the United States Supreme Court.
Gratz College, in collaboration with the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program, hosted an online seminar wherein Dr. Paul Finkelman, the author of this paper, went into further depth on the ties between the Underground Railroad and the United States Constitution. To see a recording of the webinar, please visit the link provided below the video.
Escapees from slavery travelled north in order to reclaim their freedom and escape harsh living conditions in their home countries. They required daring and cunning in order to elude law enforcement agents and professional slave catchers, who were paid handsomely for returning them to their masters’ possession. Southerners were extremely resentful of people in the North who helped the slaves in their plight. They invented the name “Underground Railroad” to refer to a well-organized network dedicated to keeping slaves away from their masters, which occasionally extended as far as crossing the Canadian border.
In 1850, Congress created the Fugitive Slave Law, which imposed severe fines on anybody found guilty of assisting slaves in their attempts to flee.
Underground Railroad “Stations” Develop in Iowa
Iowa shares a southern border with Missouri, which was a slave state during the American Civil War. The abolitionist movement (those who desired to abolish slavery) built a system of “stations” in the 1840s and 1850s that could transport runaways from the Mississippi River to Illinois on their route to freedom. Activists from two religious movements, the Congregationalists and the Quakers, played crucial roles in the abolitionist movement. They were also involved in the Underground Railroad’s operations in the state of New York.
- According to one source, there are more than 100 Iowans who are participating in the endeavor.
- The Hitchcock House, located in Cass County near Lewis, is another well-known destination on the Underground Railroad in one form or another.
- George Hitchcock escorted “passengers” to the next destination on his route.
- Several of these locations are now public museums that are available to the general public.
- Individual families also reacted when they were approached for assistance.
- When the Civil War broke out and the Fugitive Slave Law could no longer be enforced in the northern states, a large number of slaves fled into the state and eventually settled there permanently.
Iowa became the first state to offer black males the right to vote in 1868. It was determined that segregated schools and discrimination in public accommodations were both unconstitutional in Iowa by the Supreme Court.
Iowa: A Free State Willing to Let Slavery Exist
Slavery has been a contentious topic in the United States since its inception, and it continues to be so today. As new states entered the Union, the early fights did not revolve over slavery in the South but rather its expansion. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 created an east-west line along the southern boundary of Missouri, which would remain in place for the rest of time, separating free and slave settlement. States to the south may legalize slavery, whilst states to the north (with the exception of slave state Missouri) were prohibited from doing so.
- The majority of Iowans were ready to allow slavery to continue in the South.
- They enacted legislation in an attempt to deter black people from settling in the state.
- Iowa did have a tiny community of abolitionists who believed that slavery was a moral wrong that should be abolished everywhere.
- This increased the likelihood that Nebraska, which borders Iowa on its western border, would become a slave state.
- The Republican Party has evolved as a staunch opponent of any future expansion of slavery into western areas in the United States.
- $200 Reward: Poster for the Return of Formerly-Enslaved People, October 1, 1847 (Document)
- “Effects of the Fugitive-Slave-Law” Print, 1850 (Image)
- Fugitive Slave Law, 1850 (Document)
- Poster for the Return of Formerly-Enslaved People, October 1, 1847 (Document)
- Poster for the Return of Formerly-Enslaved People, October 1, 1847 (Do
How did runaway slaves rely on the help of abolitionists to escape to freedom?
- Article from the Anti-Slavery Bugle titled “William and Ellen Craft,” published on February 23, 1849 (Document)
- Anti-Slavery Bugle Article titled “Underground Railroad,” published on September 16, 1854 (Document)
- “A Presbyterian Clergyman Suspended for Being Connected with the Underground Railroad” Article published on November 8, 1855 (Document)
- William Maxson Home in West Liberty, Iowa, circa 1890 (Image)
How did some runaway slaves create their own opportunities to escape?
- A newspaper article entitled “The ‘Running of Slaves’ – The Extraordinary Escape of Henry Box Brown” published on June 23, 1849 (Document)
- The Henry “Box” Brown Song and the Engraved Box, published in 1850 (Image, Document)
- “The Resurrection of Henry ‘Box’ Brown at Philadelphia” illustration published in 1850 (Image)
- Robert Smalls: “The Steamer ‘Planter’ and Her Captor,” published on June 14, 1862 (Do
$200 Reward: Poster for the Return of Formerly-Enslaved People, October 1, 1847
- After escaping enslavement, many people depended on northern whites to guide them securely to the northern free states and eventually to Canadian territory. For someone who had previously been forced into slavery, life may be quite perilous. There were incentives for capturing them, as well as adverts such as the one seen below for a prize. More information may be found here.
“Effects of the Fugitive-Slave-Law” Illustration, 1850
- Written in strong opposition to the Runaway Slave Act, which was approved by Congress in September 1850 and expanded federal and free-state duty for the return of fugitive slaves, this letter is full of anger. The bill called for the appointment of federal commissioners who would have the authority to enact regulations. More information may be found here.
Fugitive Slave Law, 1850
- As a result of the Fleeing Slave Law of 1850, it became unlawful for anybody in the northern United States to aid fugitive slaves in their quest for freedom. This statute supplemented the 1793 Fugitive Slave Act with additional clauses addressing runaways, and it imposed even harsher sanctions for interfering with their escape. More information may be found here.
Anti-Slavery Bugle Article – “William and Ellen Craft,” February 23, 1849
- In this article from the abolitionist journal, The Anti-Slavery Bugle, the narrative of Ellen and William Craft’s emancipation from slavery is described in detail. Ellen disguised herself as a male in order to pass as the master, while her husband, William, claimed to be her servant as they made their way out of the building. More information may be found here.
Anti-Slavery Bugle Article – “Underground Railroad,” September 16, 1854
- The Anti-Slavery Bugle article indicates the number of runaway slaves in northern cities in 1854, based on a survey conducted by the organization. This group contained nine slaves from Boone County, Kentucky, who were seeking refuge in the United States. Their captors were said to be on the lookout for them in Cincinnati, and they were found. More information may be found here.
“A Presbyterian Clergyman Suspended for Being Connected with the Underground Railroad” Article, November 8, 1855
- This newspaper story was written in Fayettville, Tennessee, in 1855 and is a good example of historical journalism. When Rev. T. B. McCormick, a priest in Indiana, was suspended for his membership in the Underground Railroad, the article details his ordeal in detail. In the narrative, he is accused of supporting escaped slaves on their way to freedom. More information may be found here.
William Maxson Home in West Liberty, Iowa, 1890
- It was published in the Fayetteville, Tennessee, newspaper in 1855, and is a good example of historical journalism. When Rev. T. B. McCormick, a clergyman in Indiana, was suspended for his membership in the Underground Railroad, the article tells what happened. In the narrative, he is accused of supporting fugitive slaves on their way out of the country. More information may be found at:
“Fugitive Slave Case Was Tried” – A Daily Gate City Article, April 13, 1915
- This story, which was published in the Keokuk, Iowa, newspaper The Daily Gate City in 1915, is about a trial that took place in Burlington in 1850. Buel Daggs, the plaintiff, sought $10,000 in damages as recompense for the services of nine slaves who had fled from Missouri and had worked for him as slaves. More information may be found here.
“The ‘Running of Slaves’ – The Extraordinary Escape of Henry ‘Box’ Brown” Article, June 23, 1849
- It was published in the Keokuk, Iowa newspaper The Daily Gate City in 1915 and is about a trial that took place in Burlington, Iowa, in 1850 and was published in The Daily Gate City. Buel Daggs, the plaintiff, sought $10,000 in damages as recompense for the services of nine slaves who had escaped from Missouri and had been working for him. More information may be found at:
Henry “Box” Brown Song and the Engraved Box, 1850
- This story, which appeared in The Daily Gate Citynewspaper of Keokuk, Iowa, in 1915, was about a trial that took place in Burlington, Iowa, in the year 1850. Buel Daggs, the plaintiff, sought $10,000 in damages as recompense for the services of nine slaves who had fled from Missouri. More information may be found at
“The Resurrection of Henry ‘Box’ Brown at Philadelphia” Illustration, 1850
- Henry “Box” Brown, a slave who escaped from Richmond, Virginia, in a box measuring three feet long, two and a half feet deep, and two and a half feet broad, is depicted in a somewhat comical but sympathetic manner in this artwork. In the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society’s administrative offices. More information may be found here.
Robert Smalls: “The Steamer ‘Planter’ and Her Captor,” June 14, 1862
- The escape of Robert Smalls and other members of his family and friends from slavery was chronicled in detail in an article published in Harper’s Weekly. Smalls was an enslaved African American who acquired freedom during and after the American Civil War and went on to work as a ship’s pilot on the high seas. More information may be found here.
“A Bold Stroke for Freedom” Illustration, 1872
- The image from 1872 depicts African Americans, most likely fleeing slaves, standing in front of a wagon and brandishing firearms towards slave-catchers. A group of young enslaved persons who had escaped from Loudon by wagon are said to be shown in the cartoon on Christmas Eve in 1855, when patrollers caught up with them. More information may be found here.
- Several African Americans, perhaps fleeing slaves, are seen with firearms pointed at slave hunters in an image from 1872. A group of young enslaved persons who had escaped from Loudon by wagon are said to be shown in the cartoon on Christmas Eve in 1855, according to legend. More information may be found at:
- Maryland’s Pathways to Freedom: The Underground Railroad in the State of Maryland On this page, you can find primary materials pertaining to Maryland and the Underground Railroad. Information from three former slaves, Samuel Green, Phoebe Myers, and others is included in this collection. “The Underground Railroad: A Secret History” by Eric Foner is a book on the history of the Underground Railroad. The author of this piece from The Atlantic discusses the “secret history” of the Underground Railroad, which he believes reveals that the network was not nearly as secretive as many people believe. Emancipation of William and Ellen Craft from Slavery According to “Documenting the American South,” this webpage focuses on how slaves William and Ellen Craft escaped from Georgia and sought asylum and freedom in the United States’ northern states.
Iowa Core Social Studies Standards (8th Grade)
The content anchor requirements for Iowa Core Social Studies that are most accurately reflected in this source collection are listed below. The subject requirements that have been implemented to this set are appropriate for middle school pupils and cover the major areas that make up social studies for eighth grade students in the United States.
- S.8.13.Explain the rights and obligations of people, political parties, and the media in the context of a range of governmental and nonprofit organizations and institutions. (Skills for the twenty-first century)
- SS.8.19.Explain how immigration and migration were influenced by push and pull influences in early American history. SS.8.21.Examine the relationships and linkages between early American historical events and developments in the context of wider historical settings
- In your explanation of how and why prevalent social, cultural, and political viewpoints altered over early American history, please include the following information: SS.8.23.Explain the numerous causes, impacts, and changes that occurred in early American history
- And The Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, Washington’s Farewell Address, the Louisiana Purchase Treaty with France, the Monroe Doctrine, the Indian Removal Act, the Missouri Compromise, Dred Scott v. Sanford, and the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo are examples of primary and secondary sources of information that should be critiqued with consideration for the source of the document, its context, accuracy, and usefulness.
Fugitive Slave Act of (1850)
Abolitionists argued that the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 stipulated that states into which fugitive slaves went were bound to return them to their masters upon their discovery, and that anyone who assisted runaway slaves were liable to criminal prosecution. The first Fugitive Slave Statute was passed by Congress in 1793, but because the northern states had outlawed SLAVERY by that time, the act was rarely enforced and eventually became obsolete. The attitude toward slavery held by the northern states was greatly disliked by the southern states, as evidenced by the establishment of the Underground Railroad, a network of abolitionists who assisted fugitive slaves in obtaining freedom.
- 462) by Congress as part of theCOMPROMISE OF 1850.
- Additionally, the legislation mandated that, upon arrest, a slave be taken before a federal court or commissioner, but that the slave would not be tried by a jury and that his or her testimony would not be given much weight.
- The Fugitive Slave Act drew a strong reaction in the North, and several states implemented legislation that invalidated its impact, thereby rendering it worthless.
- Persons convicted of breaching the legislation were frequently subjected to heavy fines, imprisonment, or a combination of the two.
The statutes of 1793 and 1850 were lawfully in effect until they were repealed by Congress on June 28, 1864, according to the Constitution (13 Stat. 200).
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Congress enacts first fugitive slave law, Feb. 12, 1793
The first runaway slave statute was passed on this day in 1793 by the United States Congress. Slave fugitives who had fled from other states were supposed to be returned to their owners by force in every state, including those that prohibited slavery. The result in the House was 48-7, with 14 MPs voting against it. The act carried out Article IV of the Constitution — which was later abolished by the Thirteenth Amendment — which required the federal government to apprehend fugitive slaves if they escaped.
- Many of them passed legislation that guaranteed fugitive slaves the right to a jury trial.
- According to these so-called personal liberty statutes, slave owners and fugitive hunters were obliged to present evidence that their prisoners were in fact fugitive slaves before they could be released.
- It called for the return of slaves “under pain of severe punishment,” yet it allowed for a jury trial under the condition that fugitives be barred from testifying in their own defense.
- Fugitive slaves also found ways to get around the law by using the Underground Railroad, which was a network mostly comprised of abolitionists and free African-Americans who assisted fugitives in escaping to northern states or Canada during the Civil War.
- As a result of the backlash, Southern states were increasingly under pressure to split from the Union.
In 2013, the film “12 Years a Slave,” which is based on a book by Solomon Northup about plantation life on Louisiana’s Red River, has been nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Picture. WWW.HISTORY.COM
The Fugitive Slave Act
The concerns of slavery and the rights of states to make their own decisions on the slave question dominated domestic politics throughout the first half of the nineteenth century, particularly in the United States. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 arose primarily as a result of state and federal legislation in place at the time governing the apprehension of fugitive slaves. A number of Southern states passed legislation during the colonial period that provided rewards for individuals who apprehended fugitive slaves while punishing those who housed or concealed them.
- Due to the fact that not all Northern states and new territories had fugitive slave laws, escaped slaves sometimes sought refuge there, causing Southern slaveholders to become outraged.
- Anyone who obstructed the apprehension of runaway slaves or provided safe harbor to fugitive slaves was subject to arrest as well.
- Abolitionists and other sympathetic Northerners ignored the 1793 Act, and activists organized a covert network of safe havens for fleeing slaves that stretched from the Deep South to Canada, known as the Underground Railroad, to protect them from capture.
- The North and the South were increasingly at odds over the subject of slavery in the new states and territories that had been gained from Mexico after the United States-Mexican War (1846-48).
- The Great Compromise of 1850 was enacted by Congress as a last-ditch effort to keep the Union together and intact.
Additionally, the Federal government was required to recognize California as a free state, that the territorial legislatures of New Mexico and Utah address the issue of slavery within their respective borders, that no slave trade be permitted in the District of Columbia, and that, because Texas lost lands to the newly created New Mexico territory, the Federal government would assume a portion of the debts of the former Texas Republic.
- The North also pledged to severely enforce the new Fugitive Slave Act if it were to become law.
- commissioners may issue warrants for fugitive slaves, and that merely a claimant’s statement was required to establish possession of a slave.
- Commissioners were compensated for each fugitive who was recaptured and returned to slavery, making it financially advantageous to find in favor of the claimant.
- In essence, however, the Great Compromise of 1850 was a failure because it satisfied practically no one.
- Despite efforts to defuse tensions, the North and South continued to clash over issues like as slavery and state rights.
Some northern states responded to the Fugitive Slave Act by establishing state legislation that rendered the act’s provisions null and void. In the end, the Great Compromise only managed to keep the peace for another 10 years.
One of American History’s Worst Laws Was Passed 165 Years Ago
Despite the fact that it had been 30 years since Thomas Jefferson compared the combustible subject of slavery expansion to “a fire bell in the night'” that would one day ring “a death knell for the Union,” the fulfillment of Jefferson’s ominous prophecy appeared to be very close in the year 1850. Although they were still a minority in the 1830s, northern abolitionists grew loud and disruptive enough to cause genuine worry in the slave states while making additional political concessions to slavery in the free states increasingly difficult.
Initially, the Senate’s balance of slave-state and free-state votes didomed the legislation, but demographic statistics were shifting at the time.
The admission of California as a free state swayed the scales in the Senate as well.
18, 1850, exactly 165 years ago today.
It compelled the federal government to go far beyond its constitutional authority in defense of slavery at a time when anti-slavery sentiment was clearly on the rise, provoking outrage and defiance in the North and, as a result, further deepening southerners’ suspicions that their rights could no longer be protected within the United States of America Initially, the new law appeared to be a straightforward attempt to enforce the United States Constitution, specifically Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3, which stated that slaves did not become free simply by escaping to a free state and, as a result, stipulated that slaves must be returned to their legal owners.
The framers of the 1850 measure, however, went far beyond earlier efforts that were little more than lip service to this mandate, transferring jurisdiction from northern courts to a federal commission that was blatantly encouraged to rule in favor of the slaveholder by a compensation rate of $10 for each black person returned to the South (as opposed to only $5 if the claim was disallowed) and a compensation rate of $10 for each black person remanded North.
- In addition to prohibiting testimony from the putative fugitives themselves, the legislation obliged ordinarily disinterested private persons to aid in the apprehension and return of the suspects under fear of punishment or jail.
- However, there were some more tangible concerns at play.
- It was no accident that both Douglass and Garnet were able to make their way out of Maryland at the same time.
- Hummel and Barry R.
- The fact that the most dangerous flight risks were also the most expensive to replace meant that able-bodied male slaves became a significantly less appealing investment in border nations.
- However, if the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was intended to strengthen slavery in any way, there is no evidence to suggest that it did so.
- Over the next decade, the number of runaways reduced by just 200, and the 330 people who returned to slavery barely exceeded the number of escapes from the Border States alone in 1860, according to the Bureau of the Census.
- Even whites in the north, who had previously been apprehensive about the presence of African Americans in their midst, now call for stronger state guarantees for personal liberty and freedom.
- Rather than forcing its nefarious expansionist will on remote geographical frontiers, the oft-invoked “slave power cabal” seems set on imposing it on their very own, purportedly “free,” communities, under the authority and muscle of their own government.
- As such, it not only exacerbated the very fears and concerns on both sides that had thrown the Union into crisis in 1850, but it also further undermined the political fortunes of those who had demanded it in the first place, as would become evident later.
It was made apparent by the Fugitive Slave Act that any further extension of the physical and political reach of human bondage would be irreconcilable with the shift in substantive northern objectives and the attendant establishment of a new public morality that would result as a result of this shift.
Distinguished professor of history James C. Cobb is now the Spalding Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Georgia, and he previously served as president of the Southern Historical Association.
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Despite the fact that it had been 30 years since Thomas Jefferson compared the combustible subject of slavery expansion to “a fire bell in the night'” that would one day ring “a death knell for the Union,” the fulfillment of Jefferson’s ominous forecast appeared to be close at hand by 1850. Northern abolitionists appeared to have found their voice in the 1830s, and while it remained a minority voice, it became loud and disruptive enough to cause genuine worry in the slave states while making additional political concessions to slavery increasingly challenging in the free states.
- Initially, the Senate’s balance of slave-state and free-state votes doomed the legislation, but demographic patterns were shifting at that time.
- 9, 1850, the slave states accounted for just 39 percent of all members in the lower house, tilted the scales in the Senate, which was previously dominated by slave states.
- But none had a more diametrically opposed effect in the free states than the incendiary Fugitive Slave Act, which was passed by Congress on Sept.
- It proved to be a very harsh piece of legislation, even for a pro-slavery piece of legislation, and is unquestionably one of the most critically mistaken pieces of legislation in United States history.
On the surface, the new law appeared to be a straightforward attempt to enforce the United States Constitution, specifically Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3, which stated that slaves did not become free simply by escaping to a free state and, as a result, required their return to their legal masters in the United States.
Although the putative fugitives were barred from testifying, the legislation obliged ordinarily disinterested private persons, under pain of a fine or jail, to aid in the apprehension and return of the suspected fugitives.
Escapades had increased as the increasingly active abolitionist contingent urged slaves to flee; more than that, the most compelling and credible indictments of slavery came not from northern whites acting on principle, but from runaways such as Frederick Douglass and Henry Highland Garnet, who had personally experienced slavery’s brutalities.
In their research, historians Joseph R.
Weingast discovered that the odds of permanent emancipation were significantly higher in border slave states such as Delaware, Maryland, and Missouri, which together accounted for less than 6 percent of the total slave population of the slave states in 1850 but accounted for 36 percent of the runaways.
There was little reason to expect future representatives from slaveholding states like Delaware and Maryland to maintain their attachments to the institution as dramatically higher prices in the Deep South enticed more and more slaveholders in states like Delaware and Maryland to sell off their human property.
Even while the Fugitive Slave Act itself was a low moment in American legislative history, its egregiousness eventually contributed to the abolition of the brutal institution it was intended to safeguard in the first place.
Given the massive anti-slavery backlash that took place in the northern free states, these figures appear doubly meager when compared to the abolitionist movement’s progress there, which was accelerated rather than slowed as a result of the act, contributing to the publication of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin and to the expansion of support for the Underground Railroad, among other things, The demand for enhanced state guarantees for personal liberty was made by even northern whites who had previously been hostile to the presence of African Americans in their midst.
People in Boston, Oberlin, and other cities have taken direct physical action against federal intruders who have the authority to overrule local legal systems and abrogate their civil rights.
It was the Fugitive Slave Law, which historian Eric Foner described as “the most powerful exercise of federal authority” in the United States prior to the Civil War.
The southern Democrats of 1850, like their counterparts a century later who were slow to recognize the explosive potential of a steadily rising outcry for racial justice, had grossly underestimated a very real threat—not only to their own interests, but ultimately to the very existence of the United States of America in general.
Distinguished professor of history James C. Cobb is now the Spalding Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Georgia, and he previously served as President of the Southern Historical Association.
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