How did the Fugitive Slave Acts of 1703 and 1850 adress the issue of slavery?

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  • 7 years ago
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    1) Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 :

    When Congress created "An Act respecting fugitives from justice, and persons escaping from the service of their masters", or more commonly known as the Fugitive Slave Act, they were responding to slave owners' need to protect their property rights, as written into the 1787 Constitution. Article IV of the Constitution required the federal government to go after runaway slaves.[10] The 1793 Fugitive Slave Act was the mechanism by which the government did that, and it was only at this point the government could pursue runaway slaves in any state or territory, and ensure slave owners of their property rights.[11]

    Section 3 is the part that deals with fugitive or runaway slaves, and reads in part:

    SEC. 3. ...That when a person held to labor in any of the United States, or in either of the Territories on the Northwest or South of the river Ohio...shall escape into any other part of the said States or Territory, the person to whom such labor or service may be hereby empowered to seize or arrest such fugitive from labor...and upon proof...before any shall be the duty of such Judge...[to remove] the said fugitive from labor to the State or Territory from which he or she fled.

    Section 4 makes assisting runaways and fugitives a crime and outlines the punishment for those who assisted runaway slaves:

    SEC. 4. ...That any person who shall knowingly and willingly obstruct or hinder such claimant ...shall...forfeit and pay the sum of five hundred dollars.[12]

    In the early 19th century, Personal Liberty Laws were passed to hamper officials in the execution of the law, but this was mostly after the abolition of the Slave Trade, as there had been very little support for abolition prior; Indiana in 1824 and Connecticut in 1828 provided jury trial for fugitives who appealed from an original decision against them. In 1840, New York and Vermont extended the right of trial by jury to fugitives and provided them with attorneys. As early as the first decade of the 19th century, individual dissatisfaction with the law of 1793 had taken the form of systematic assistance rendered to African Americans escaping from the South to Canada or New England: the so-called Underground Railroad.

    The decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Prigg v. Pennsylvania in 1842 (16 Peters 539)—that state authorities could not be forced to act in fugitive slave cases, but that national authorities must carry out the national law—was followed by legislation in Massachusetts (1843), Vermont (1843), Pennsylvania (1847) and Rhode Island (1848), forbidding state officials from aiding in enforcing the law and refusing the use of state jails for fugitive slaves.

    2) 1850 Fugitive Slave Act :

    The demand from the South for more effective Federal legislation was voiced in the second fugitive slave law, drafted by Senator James Murray Mason of Virginia, grandson of George Mason, and enacted on September 18, 1850, as a part of the Compromise of 1850. Special commissioners were to have concurrent jurisdiction with the U.S. circuit and district courts and the inferior courts of territories in enforcing the law; fugitives could not testify in their own behalf; no trial by jury was provided.

    Penalties were imposed upon marshals who refused to enforce the law or from whom a fugitive should escape, and upon individuals who aided black people to escape; the marshal might raise a posse comitatus; a fee of $10 ($276 as of 2013),[13] was paid to the commissioner when his decision favored the claimant, only $5 ($138 as of 2013), [13] when it favored the fugitive. The supposed justification for the disparity in compensation was that, if the decision were in favor of the claimant, additional effort on the part of the commissioner would be required in order to fill out the paperwork actually remanding the slave back to the South.[14] Both the fact of the escape and the identity of the fugitive were determined on purely ex parte testimony. If a slave was brought in and returned to the master, the person who brought in the slave would receive the sum of $10 ($276 as of 2013), [13] per slave.

    The severity of this measure led to gross 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 Vermont (1850), Connecticut (1854), Rhode Island (1854), Massachusetts (1855), Michigan (1855), Maine (1855 and 1857), Kansas (1858) and Wisconsin (1858). The personal liberty laws forbade justices and judges to take cognizance of claims, extended the Habeas corpus act and the privilege of jury trial to fugitives, and punished false testimony severely. In 1854, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin went so far as to declare the Fugitive Slave Law unconstitutional.[15]

    Note : for more info go to the links i will leave them to you in the source

    Hope my answer was helpful .

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