Fugitive Slave Law - A Synopsis of the Law

The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 permitted slave-hunters to seize an alleged fugitive slave without the slightest due process of law.  It also prohibited any person from helping escaped slaves (fugitives) or hindering their recovery by any means.

At the time of this law, it was often assumed that any black person was a slave.  The Fugitive Slave Law therefore threatened the safety of all black people, free and slave. 

The impact of the law did not always have the desired effect.  Because of it, many Northerners more vocally expressed opposition to slavery and more defiantly supported fugitives.

At the bottom of this publication, "S. M. Africanus" presents objections to the law (both in prose and verse) which justify ignoring it altogether and/or conducting oneself in a moral (albeit illegal) manner.

Click on the image to examine it in detail. 

See, also:

Fugitive Slave Laws - How They Worked

Media Credits

S. M. Africanus
The Fugitive Slave Law
Hartford, Connecticut, 1850
Library of Congress

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