previous next

‘ [723] more sensible depreciation in the total capital represented by the slave population than is experienced by public stocks in consequence of the daily fluctuations of the New York market.’ Some of the States having refused to comply with the requirements of the Fugitive Slave law, it was enforced by a decree of the supreme court known as the Dred Scott case.

It will be seen that this law was not abrogated, notwithstanding many efforts to that effect, until the second period of the war. It was long preserved as a pledge to the border States that slavery should not be abruptly abolished in their territory. But if no direct blow was aimed at the principle itself, from the outset of the war its application immediately gave rise to serious difficulties. Were the military themselves to interfere for the purpose of restoring slaves to their owners? And in that case was a distinction to be made, first between loyal and rebel owners, then between fugitives, according as they had or had not been engaged in acts of hostility against the Federal armies? This problem, as we shall find, received various solutions in proportion as Congress entered more and more earnestly on the path of abolition.

We have already had something to say about General Butler's device, when he was in command at Fortress Monroe, to reconcile the respect due to the Constitution with the idea of equity, which was opposed to the restoration of a slave flying from a master who was in rebellion against this Constitution. On the 22d of May, 1861, he learned that three negroes had taken refuge in his camps, stating that their owner, Mr. Mallory, a colonel in the enemy's army, wanted to send them to work on some fortifications on the coast. Butler kept them, declaring that he considered them as contraband of war. A flag of truce came to claim them; it was sent back. The rumor of this incident, which spread with astonishing rapidity among the servile population of the neighborhood, soon brought a large number of fugitives on the narrow peninsula lying under the bastions of Fortress Monroe. Whole families were seen to arrive. The adults, whether men or women, could be treated as contrabands, but it was not so with the children; and yet who would have thought of surrendering them and keeping their parents? In reply to requests from Butler for instructions, the Secretary of War decided, in a despatch

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Fortress Monroe (Virginia, United States) (2)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Butler (3)
Mallory (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
May 22nd, 1861 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: