A Dictionary of American History

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Author: Thomas L. Purvis  | Date: 1995

Fugitive Slave Act, Second

Fugitive Slave Act, Second (18 September 1850) Passed as part of the Compromise of 1850, this law provided such ironclad guarantees for slaveowners to reclaim their property, that it eliminated any protection under the Bill of Rights for free blacks wrongly brought before US commissioners as slaves. No more proof of ownership was required at a hearing than the alleged owner’s affidavit, and the accused had no right to testify or produce witnesses in his behalf. US commissioners gave summary verdicts without juries and received a fee of $10 for upholding the master’s claim, but only $5 if the accused were declared a free person. Law officers who refused to serve warrants on suspected slaves, or who allowed arrestees to escape by negligence, could be fined up to $1,000. Citizens who helped arrestees escape faced $1,000 fines and six months in jail. Abelman v. Booth upheld the law and struck down personal liberty laws intended to frustrate its operation.

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Chicago: Thomas L. Purvis, "Fugitive Slave Act, Second," A Dictionary of American History in A Dictionary of American History (Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell Reference, 1995), Original Sources, accessed December 1, 2022, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=LSSV18Z5QTARULM.

MLA: Purvis, Thomas L. "Fugitive Slave Act, Second." A Dictionary of American History, in A Dictionary of American History, Cambridge, Mass., Blackwell Reference, 1995, Original Sources. 1 Dec. 2022. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=LSSV18Z5QTARULM.

Harvard: Purvis, TL, 'Fugitive Slave Act, Second' in A Dictionary of American History. cited in 1995, A Dictionary of American History, Blackwell Reference, Cambridge, Mass.. Original Sources, retrieved 1 December 2022, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=LSSV18Z5QTARULM.