Fugitive Slave Act

Question: Write a discussion on the Fugitive Slave Act


In the political, social and economic history of the US, the importance of Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 deserves special mention. This is primarily due to the fact that it not only emphasized the political dilemmas of the era but also paved the way for the ushering of changes in the American socio-political system and economic system in the long run. Fugitive Slave Act was passed and proclaimed by the United States’ government on September 18, 1850; the Fugitive Slave Act should be considered as a part of the famous (and infamous) Compromise. It should be noted that the Act "required the 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" (Civil War Trust, 2018). The Fugitive Act itself suggests the point of view of most of the political kingpins in the 19th century in the US. The abusive approach towards dealing with the inhuman institution of slavery has been thoroughly indicated in the document, and the harshness of the biased legislature is thoroughly depicted in the concerned piece of legal document. It should be noted that “With southern pressures of disunion increasing, the procedures including the “Compromise of 1850” commenced to pacify slaveholders in numerous methods, but no one has exactly the reverse consequence in the free states than the inflammable Fugitive Slave Act, which the congress permitted” (Cobb, 2015). 
The inhumanity in the very Act itself has been reflected by Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 (Section 6). The section reads the following:
Section 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 of the United States, the person or persons to whom such service or labor may be due, or his, her, or their attorney or agent, accordingly approved, by attorney’s influence, in text, certified and recognized under the cover of selected permissible officer or territory of the State where the same could be performed, can follow and retrieve such fugitive individual, obtaining a warrant from judges or courts , or officials above-mentioned, of the appropriate region, or state, for the uneasiness of such escapee from facility or by grabbing and arresting 2/23/2018 Fugitive Slave Act | Civil War Trust https://www.civilwar.org/learn/primary-sources/fugitive-slave-act 4/8 such escapee, in which the similar could be finished without procedure, and by getting, or affecting such individual to be taken, immediately before such officer or court whose responsibility will be to govern and hear the case of such applicant immediately. (Civil War Trust, 2018)
It can be seen that the primary objective before enacting the law was to make the legislature and judiciary accountable to the slave owners regarding upholding the principles of the slave trade. The document was written primarily to provide legal power to the slave owners regarding re-establishing their mastery and ownership over the escaped slaves whose lives were not meant to be saved even if they evaded the Institute of slavery and ran away to states were slaves were termed as free human beings. Assuming the form of a law code and of a legal opinion, the prosperity of the slave trade to enhance at the expense of the principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity that constitute the edifice of democracy is eventually allowed by the Fugitive Slave Act. It must be noted that being a portion of the Conciliation of 1850, the law required “the United States government to actively assist slave owners in recapturing their fugitive slaves. Under the United States Constitution, slave owners had the right to reclaim slaves who ran away to Free states. With the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, the federal government had to assist the slave owners" (Ohio History Central, n.d.). Any such compulsion was not there previously, but the enactment of the concerned law made it imperative for the government to reinforce the continuation of the inhuman institution of slavery in the country.
The entire document is a legal one that targets the populace of the United States and government authorities in terms of ushering the awareness that slaves were the property of slave owners and they do not have the right to lead a life of freedom. Being a legal document, the validity of the authorship is undeniable, and even though no single author can be credited for the formulation of the legal clauses, it should be noted that being a government document and a piece of legislature the viability of the document surpasses any doubt.


Civil War Trust (2018). Official Record: Fugitive Slave Act. Retrieved February 24, 2018, from https://www.civilwar.org/learn/primary-sources/fugitive-slave-act
Cobb, J.C. (2015). One of American History's Worst Laws Was Passed 165 Years Ago. Time. Retrieved February 24, 2018, from http://time.com/4039140/fugitive-slace-act-165/
Ohio History Central (n.d.). Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. Retrieved February 24, 2018, from http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Fugitive_Slave_Law_of_1850

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