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In 1562 John Hawkins, an English navigator, seeing the want of slaves in the West Indies, determined to enter upon the piratical traffic. Several London gentlemen contributed funds liberally for the enterprise. Three ships were provided, and with these and 100 men Hawkins sailed to the coast of Guinea, where, by bribery, deception, treachery, and force, he procured at least 300 negroes and sold them to the Spaniards in Hispaniola, or Santo Domingo, and returned to England with a rich freight of pearls, sugar, and ginger. The nation was shocked by the barbarous traffic, and the Queen (Elizabeth) declared to Hawkins that, “if any of the Africans were carried away without their own consent, it would be detestable, and call down the vengeance of Heaven upon the undertakers.” He satisfied the Queen and continued the traffic, pretending that it was for the good of the souls of the Africans, as it introduced them to Christianity and civilization.

Already negro slaves had been introduced by the Spaniards into the West Indies. They first enslaved the natives, but these were unequal to the required toil, and they were soon almost extinguished by hard labor and cruelty. Charles V. of Spain granted a license to a Fleming to import 4,000 negroes annually into the West Indies. He sold his license to Genoese merchants, who began a regular trade in human beings between Africa and the West Indies. These were found to thrive where the native laborers died. The benevolent Las Casas (see Las Casas, Bartolome De) and others favored the system as a means for saving the Indian tribes from destruction; and the trade was going on briskly when the English, under the influence of Hawkins, engaged in it in 1562. Ten years before a few negroes had been sold in England, and it is said that Queen Elizabeth's scruples were so far removed that she shared in the profits of the traffic carried on by Englishmen. The Stuart kings of England chartered companies for the trade; and Charles II. and his brother James were members of one of them.

After the revolution of 1688 the trade was thrown open, and in 1713 an English company obtained the privilege of supplying the Spanish colonies in America, South and Central, for thirty years, stipulating to deliver 144,000 negro slaves within that period. One quarter of the stock of the company was taken by King Philip V. of Spain, and Queen Anne of England reserved for herself the other quarter. So the two monarchs became great slave-dealers.

The first slaves were introduced into the English-American colonies by a Dutch trader, who, in 1619, sold twenty of them to the settlers at Jamestown, Va. After that the trade between North America and Africa was carried on quite vigorously; but some of the colonies remonstrated, and in the Continental Congress, and also in the public mind, there was a strong desire evinced to abolish the slave-trade. Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick were banished from the colony of Massachusetts, in 1658, under penalty of death if they should return. Their crime was the embracing of the principles and mode of worship of the Quakers. Their two children remained behind in extreme poverty. They were fined for non-attendance upon the public worship carried on by their persecutors. The magistrates insisted that the fine must be paid, and passed the following order: “Whereas, Daniel Southwick and Provided Southwick, son and daughter of Lawrence Southwick, absenting themselves from the public ordinances, having been fined by the courts of Salem and Ipswich, pretending they have no estates, and resolving not to work, the court, upon perusal of a law-which was made upon account of debts, in what should be done for the satisfaction of the fines, resolves, that the treasurers of the several counties are and shall be fully empowered to sell said persons to any of the English natives at Virginia or Barbadoes to answer the said fines.” Endicott, it is said, urged the execution of the measure with vehemence; but, to the honor of the marine service, not a sea-captain in the port of Boston could be induced to become a slave-dealer to please the General Court. They were spared the usual brutal whipping of contumacious persons as a special mark of humanity.

In 1662 the Virginia Assembly passed a law that children should be held, bond or free, “according to the condition of the mother.” This was to meet the case of [205] mulatto children, born of black mothers, in the colony. It was thought right to hold heathen Africans in slavery; but, as mulattoes must be part Christians, a knotty question came up, for the English law in relation to serfdom declared the

A colonial slave-market in the seventeenth century.

condition of the child must be determined by that of the father. The Virginia law opposed this doctrine in favor of the slaveholders. Some of the negroes brought into Virginia were converted to Christianity and baptized. The question was raised, “Is it lawful to hold Christians as slaves?” The General Assembly came to the relief of the slave-holders by enacting a law that slaves, though converted and baptized, should not therefore become free. It was also enacted that killing a slave by his master by “extreme correction” should not be esteemed a felony, since it might not be presumed that “malice prepense” would “induce any man to destroy his own estate.” It was also enacted, as an evasion of the statute prohibiting the holding of Indians as slaves, “that all servants, not being Christians, imported by shipping, shall be slaves for life.” Indian slaves, under this law, were imported from New England and the West Indies. Freed slaves were then subjected to civil disabilities.

In 1663 the Maryland legislature enacted a law that “all negroes and other slaves within the province, and all negroes and other slaves to be thereafter imported into the province, should serve during life; and all children born of any negro should be slaves, as their fathers were, for the term of their lives.” The same law recited that “divers free-born Englishwomen, forgetful of their free condition, and to the disgrace of the nation, did intermarry with negro slaves,” and it was enacted for deterring from such “shameful matches” that, during their husbands' lives, white women so intermarrying should be servants to the masters of their husbands, and that the issue of such marriages should be slaves for life.

In 1681 the legislature of Maryland passed a new act to remedy the evils of intermarrying of whites and blacks. The preamble recited that such matches were often brought about by the instigation or connivance of the master or mistress, who took advantage of the former law to prolong the servitude of their white feminine servants, and at the same time to raise [206] up a brood of mulatto slaves. The new law enacted that all white feminine servants intermarrying with negro slaves were free, at once, after the nuptials, and their children also; and that the minister celebrating and the master or mistress promoting or conniving at such marriages were subjected to a fine of 10,000 pounds of tobacco.

In 1682 the slave code of Virginia received additions. It was enacted that runaways who refused to be arrested might be lawfully killed. Slaves were forbidden to carry arms, offensive or defensive, or to go off the plantations of their masters without a written pass, or to lift a hand against a Christian, even in self-defence. The condition of slavery was imposed upon all servants, whether “negroes, Moors, mulattoes, or Indians, brought into the colony by sea or land, whether converted to Christianity or not, provided they were not of Christian parentage or country, or, if Turks or Moors, in amity with his Majesty.” Nearly a century afterwards Virginia tried to suppress the traffic in African slaves, and in 1761 it was proposed in her legislature to suppress the importation of Africans by levying a prohibitory duty. Danger to the political interest of that colony was foreboded by her wisest men in the continuance of the trade. An act for levying the tax was passed by the Assembly, but in England it met the fate of similar bills from other colonies to suppress the nefarious traffic. It was sent back with a veto.

The King in council, on Dec. 10, 1770, issued an instruction, under his own hand, commanding the governor of Virginia, “upon pain of the highest displeasure, to assent to no law by which the importation of slaves should be in any respect prohibited or obstructed.” In 1772 the Virginia Assembly earnestly discussed the question, “How shall we get rid of the great evil?” Jefferson, Henry, Lee, and other leading men anxiously desired to rid the colony of it. “The interest of the country,” it was said, “manifestly requires the total expulsion of them.” The Assembly finally resolved to address the King himself on the subject, who, in council, had compelled the toleration of the traffic. They pleaded with him to remove all restraints upon their efforts to stop the importation of slaves, which they called “a very pernicious commerce.” In this matter Virginia represented the sentiments of all the colonies, and the King knew it; but the monarch “stood in the path of humanity and made himself the pillar of the colonial slave-trade.” Ashamed to reject the earnest and solemn appeal of the Virginians, he evaded a reply. The conduct of the King caused Jefferson to write as follows in his first draft of the Declaration of Independence: “He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, capturing arid carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur a miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian King of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where men should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce.” This paragraph was stricken out of the Declaration of Independence before the committee submitted it to a vote of the Congress.

The unwise regulations of the trustees of Georgia, which crushed incentives to industry and thrift, and other causes which exist in all new settlements, made that colony languish. The settlers saw the prosperity of their neighbors in South Carolina, and attributed the difference to the positive prohibition of slavery in Georgia. This became their leading grievance, and even Whitefield advocated the introduction of slavery, under the old (and later) pretence of propagating, in that way, Christianity among the heathen Africans. Habersham, too, advocated the introduction. “Many of the poor slaves in America,” he wrote, “have already been made freemen of the heavenly Jerusalem.” The Germans were assured by their friends in Germany of its harmlessness. Word came to them in 1749: “If you take slaves in faith and with the intent of conducting them to Christ, the action will not be a sin, but may prove a benediction.” So it was that avarice subdued conscience. Already slaves had been introduced into Georgia [207] from South Carolina as hired servants, under indentures for life, or for ninety-nine years; and at Savannah the continual toast was, “The one thing needful,” which meant negro slaves. Leading men among the Scotch and Germans who opposed the introduction of slavery were threatened and persecuted. Under great pressure, the trustees yielded, and slavery was introduced on the condition that all masters should be obliged to compel the negroes to “attend, at some time on the Lord's day, for instruction in the Christian religion.” In 1752 the charter was

A slave auction in New Orleans.

surrendered to the crown, the colony had all the privileges accorded to others, and flourished.

To completely enslave the English- American colonies, the British Parliament, in 1750, gave liberty to trade in negroes, as slaves, to and from any part of Africa between Sallee, in South Barbary, and the Cape of Good Hope, to all the subjects of the King of England. This was designed to fill the colonies with slaves, who should neither trouble Great Britain with fears of encouraging political independence nor compete with their industry with British workshops; neither would they leave their employers the entire security that might enable them to prepare a revolt.

James Somerset, a negro slave of James Stewart, was taken from Virginia to England, where he refused to serve his master any longer. Stewart caused him [208] to be arrested and put on board a vessel to be conveyed to Jamaica. Being brought before Chief-Justice Mansfield on a writ of habeas corpus (December, 1771), his

Slaves on a plantation.

case was referred to the full court, where it was argued for the slave by the great philanthropist, Granville Sharp. The decision would affect the estimated number of 14,000 slaves then with their masters in England, involving a loss to their owners of $3,500,000. After a careful judicial investigation of the subject in its legal aspects, Chief-Justice Mansfield gave the decision of the court that slavery was contrary to the laws of England—that slavery could not exist there. “Whatever inconveniences, therefore, may follow from the decision,” he said, “I cannot say this case is allowed or approved by the law of England, and therefore the black must be discharged.”

The question of prohibiting the African slave-trade by a provision in the national Constitution caused .much and warm debate in the convention that framed that instrument. A compromise was agreed to by the insertion of a clause (art. I., sec. 9, clause 1) in the Constitution, as follows: “The migration or importation of such persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight; but a tax, or duty, may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person.” The idea of prohibiting the African slave-trade, then warmly advocated, was not new. In 1774 the Continental Congress, while releasing the colonies from other provisions of the American Association (q. v.), had expressly resolved “that no slave be imported into any of the United States.” Delaware, by her constitution, and Virginia and Maryland by special laws, had prohibited the importation of slaves. Similar prohibitions were in force in all the more northern States; but they did not prevent the merchants of those States from carrying on the slave-trade [209] elsewhere, and already some New England ships were engaged in a traffic from the African coast to Georgia and South Caro lina. These States were forgetful of or indifferent to the pledges they had made through their delegates in the face of the world by their concurrence in the Declaration of Independence, and seemed fully determined to maintain not only the slave system of labor, but the nefarious slave-trade. North Carolina did not prohibit the traffic, but denounced the further importation of slaves into the State as “highly impolitic,” and imposed a heavy duty on future importations.

On the demand of Henry Laurens, of South Carolina, who entered into the negotiations for a preliminary treaty of peace, at a late hour, a clause in the treaty (1782) was interlined, prohibiting, in the British evacuation, the “carrying away any negroes or other property of the inhabitants.” So this treaty of peace, in which no word had, excepting indirectly, indicated the existence of slavery in the United States, made known to the world that men could be held as property.

The legislature of Connecticut, early in 1784, passed an act that no negro or mulatto child born within that State after March 1 that year should be held in servitude longer than until the age of twenty-five years.

In 1788 the captain of a vessel in Boston seized three colored persons, took them to the West Indies, and sold them there for slaves. This event caused the legislature of Massachusetts to pass a law to prevent the slave-trade in that State, and for granting relief to the families of such persons as may be kidnapped or decoyed from the commonwealth. The law subjected to a heavy penalty any person who should forcibly take or detain any negro for the purpose of transportation as a slave, and the owner of the vessel in which such kidnapped man should be carried away incurred, also, a heavy penalty. The insurance on the vessel was made void; and the relatives of the person kidnapped, if the latter were sold into slavery in a distant country, were allowed to prosecute for the crime.

On May 12, 1789, a tariff bill having been reported to Congress, and being under discussion on the question of its second reading, Parker, of Virginia, moved to insert a clause imposing a duty of $10 on every slave imported. “He was sorry,” he said, “the Constitution prevented Congress from prohibiting the importation altogether. It was contrary to revolutionary principles, and ought not to be permitted.” A warm debate ensued. It called forth the opposition of South Carolinians and Georgians particularly. Jackson, of Georgia, made a vehement speech in opposition, in the course of which he said he hoped the proposition would be withdrawn, and that if it should be brought forward again it would comprehend “the white slaves as well as the black imported from all the jails of Europe—wretches convicted of the most flagrant crimes, who were brought in and sold without any duty whatever.” This was an allusion to the indentured white servants who were sold by the captains of vessels on their arrival here to pay the cost of their passage, a practice which had been put a stop to by the Revolutionary War, but partially revived. The motion was finally withdrawn.

In 1804 a provision was inserted into the act organizing the Territory of Orleans, that no slaves should be carried thither, except from some part of the United States, by citizens removing into the Territory as actual settlers, this permission not to extend to negroes introduced into the United States since 1798. The object of this provision was to guard against the effects of an act recently adopted by the legislature of South Carolina for reviving the slave-trade after a cessation of it, as to that State, for fifteen years, and of six years as to the whole Union. This was a consequence of the vast increase and profitableness of cotton culture, made so by Whitney's cottongin.

On Feb. 15, 1804, the legislature of New Jersey, by an almost unanimous vote, passed an act to abolish slavery in that State by securing freedom to all persons born there after July 4 next ensuing, the children of slave parents to become free, masculine at twenty-five years of age, feminine at twenty-one.

The rapid extension of settlements in the Southwest after the War of 1812-15, and the great profits derived there from [210] the cultivation of cotton, not only caused the revival of the African slave-trade, in spite of prohibitory laws, but it gave occasion to a rival domestic slave-trade, of which the national capital had become one of the centres, where it was carried on by professional traffickers in human beings. They bought up the slaves of impoverished planters of Maryland and Virginia, and sold them at large profits in the cotton-growing districts of the South and West. This new traffic, which included many of the worst features of the African slave-trade, was severely denounced by John Randolph, of Virginia, as “heinous and abominable, inhuman and illegal.” This opinion was founded on facts reported by a committee of inquiry. Gov. D. R. Williams, of South Carolina, denounced the traffic as “remorseless and cruel” ; a “ceaseless dragging along the streets and highways of a crowd of suffering victims to minister to insatiable avarice,” condemned alike by “enlightened humanity, wise policy, and the prayers of the just.” The governor urged that it had a tendency to introduce slaves of all descriptions from other States, “defiling the delightful avocations of private life” “by the presence of convicts and malefactors.” The legislature of South Carolina passed an act forbidding the introduction of slaves from other States. A similar act was passed by the Georgia legislature. This legislation was frequently resorted to on occasions of alarm, but the profitable extension of cotton cultivation and the demand for slave labor overcame all scruples. Within two years after its passage the prohibitory act of South Carolina was repealed. The interState slave-traffic was carried on extensively until slavery was abolished in 1863. A Richmond newspaper, in 1861, urging Virginia to join the Southern Confederacy, which had prohibited the traffic between them and States that would not join them, gave as a most urgent reason for such an act that, if it were not accomplished, the “Old Dominion” would lose

Slave cabin on A plantation.


Interior of a slave cabin.

this trade, amounting annually to from $13,000,000 to $20,000,000.

When Admiral Cockburn began his marauding expedition on the American coast in the spring of 1813, he held out a promise of freedom to all slaves who should join his standard. Many were seduced on board his vessels, but found themselves wretchedly deceived. Intelligence of these movements reached the plantations farther south, and, in the summer of 1813, secret organizations were formed among the slaves to receive and co-operate with Cockburn's army of liberation, as they supposed it to be. One of these secret organizations met regularly on St. John's Island, near Charleston. Their leader was a man of great sagacity and influence, and their meetings were opened and closed by singing a hymn composed by that leader—a sort of parody of Hail Columbia. The following is the last of the three stanzas of the hymn alluded to:

Arise! arise! shake off your chains!
Your cause is just, so Heaven ordains;
To you shall freedom be proclaimed!

Raise your arms and bare your breasts,
Almighty God will do the rest.
Blow the clarion's warlike blast;
Call every negro from his task; Wrest the scourge from Buckra's hand, And drive each tyrant from the land!


Firm, united let us be.
Resolved on death or liberty!
As a band of patriots joined,
Peace and plenty we shall find.

They held meetings every night, and had arranged a plan for the rising of all the slaves in Charleston when the British should appear. At one of the meetings the question, “What shall be done with the white people?” was warmly discussed. Some advocated their indiscriminate slaughter as the only security for liberty, and this seemed to be the prevailing opinion, when the leader and the author of the hymn came in and said: “Brethren, you know me. You know that I am ready to gain your liberty and mine. But not one needless drop of blood must be shed. I have a master whom I love, and the man who takes his life must pass over my dead body.” Had Cockburn been faithful to his promises to the negroes, and landed and declared freedom to the slaves of South Carolina, no doubt many thousands of colored people would have [212] flocked to his standard. But he was content to fill his pockets by plundering and carrying on a petty slave-trade for his private gain.

On March 13, 1824, articles of convention between the United States and Great Britain were signed at London, by diplomatists appointed for the purpose, providing for the adoption of measures to suppress the African slave-trade. The first article provided that the commanders and commissioned officers of each of the two contracting powers, duly authorized to cruise on the coast of Africa, of America, and of the West Indies, for the suppression of the slave-traffic, were empowered, under certain restrictions, to detain, examine, capture, and deliver over for trial and adjudication by some competent tribunal, any ship or vessel concerned in the illicit traffic in slaves, and carrying the flag of either nation. This convention was signed by Richard Rush for the United States, and by W. Huskisson and Sir Stratford Canning for Great Britain.

On March 6, 1857, Roger B. Taney, chief-justice of the United States, and a majority of his associates in the Supreme Court, uttered an extra-judicial opinion, that any person who had been a slave, or was a descendant of a slave, could not enjoy the rights of citizenship in the United States. Five years afterwards (1862) Secretary Seward issued a passport to a man who had been a slave to travel abroad as “a citizen of the United States.” Six years later still (July 20, 1868) the national Constitution was so amended that all persons, of whatever race or color, born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. By the same amendment every civil right was given to every such person. And by a subsequent amendment (1869) it was decreed that “the rights of any of the citizens of the United States, or any State, on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude should not be abridged.”

By a provision of the national Constitution the foreign slave-trade in the United States was abolished, and Congress declared it to be “piracy.” Encouraged by the practical sympathy of the national government, the friends of the slave-labor system formed plans for its perpetuity, which practically disregarded the plain requirements of the fundamental law. They resolved to reopen the African slave-trade. Africans were kidnapped in their native country, brought across the sea, and landed on our shores as in colonial times, and placed in perpetual slavery. In Louisiana, leading citizens engaged in a scheme for legalizing the traffic, under the guise of what they called the African Labor-supply Association, of which James B. De Bow, editor of De bow's review, published in New Orleans, was president. His Review was the acknowledged organ of the slaveholders, and wielded extensive and powerful influence when the flames of the Civil War were kindling. In Georgia, negroes from Africa were landed and sold, and when a grand jury at Savannah was compelled by law to find several bills against persons engaged in the traffic, or charged with complicity in the slave-trade, they protested against the law they were compelled to support. “We feel humbled,” they said, “as men, conscious that we are born freemen but in name, and that we are living, during the existence of such laws, under a tyranny as supreme as that of the despotic governments of the Old World. Heretofore the people of the South, firm in their consciousness of right and strength, have failed to place the stamp of condemnation upon such laws as reflect upon the institution of slavery, but have permitted, unrebuked, the influence of foreign opinion to prevail.” The True Southron, published in Mississippi, suggested the “propriety of stimulating the zeal of the pulpit by founding a prize for the best sermon on free-trade in negroes.” This proposition was approved, and pulpits exhibited zeal in the cause. James H. Thornwell, D. D., president of the Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Columbus, S. C., asserted his conviction that the African slave-trade formed the most worthy of all missionary societies. Southern legislatures and conventions openly discussed the subject of reopening the slave-trade. The Southern Commercial Convention, held in Vicksburg, Miss., May 11, 1859, resolved, by a vote of 47 to [213]

Scene in a Southern slave town.

16, that “all laws, State or federal, prohibiting the African slave-trade ought to be abolished.” It was warmly advocated by several men who became Confederate leaders in the Civil War. The late John Slidell (q. v.), of Louisiana, urged in the United States Senate the propriety of withdrawing American cruisers from the coasts of Africa, that the slave-trade might not be interfered with by them. When, in the summer of 1858, it was known that the traffic was to be carried on actively by the African Labor-supply Association, the British cruisers in the Gulf of Mexico were unusually vigilant, and in the course of a few weeks boarded about fifty American vessels suspected of being slavers. The influence of the slaveholders was brought to bear so powerfully upon the administration that the government protested against what it was pleased to call the “odious British doctrine of the right of search.” The British government, for “prudential reasons,” put a stop to the practice and laid the blame on the officers of the cruisers.

On April 7, 1862, a treaty was coneluded between the United States and Great Britain for the suppression of the African slave-trade, and signed at the city of Washington, D. C. By it ships of the respective nations should have the right of search of suspected slave-ships; but that right was restricted to vessels of war authorized expressly for that object, and in no case to be exercised with respect [214] to a vessel of the navy of either of the powers, but only as regards merchant vessels. Nothing was done under this treaty, as the emancipation proclamation and other circumstances made action unnecessary.

In his annual message to the Confederate Congress (Nov. 7, 1864), President Davis drew a gloomy picture of the condition of the Confederate finances and the military strength. He showed that the Confederate debt was $1,200,000,000, without a real basis of credit, and a paper currency depreciated several hundred per cent. It had been recommended, as the enlistments and conscriptions of the white people failed to make up losses in the

Scene on A plantation.

Confederate army, to arm the slaves; but this was considered too dangerous, for they would be more likely to fight for the Nationals than for the Confederates. Davis was averse to a general arming of the negroes, but he recommended the employment of 40,000 of them as pioneer and engineer laborers in the army, and not as soldiers, excepting in the last extremity. “Should the alternative ever be presented,” he said, “of a subjugation, or the employment of the slave as a soldier, there seems to be no reason to doubt what should then be the decision” ; and he suggested the propriety of holding out to the negro, as an inducement for him to give faithful service, even as a laborer in the army, a promise of his emancipation at the end of the war. These propositions and suggestions disturbed the slaveholders, for they indicated an acknowledgment on the part of “the government” that the cause was reduced to the alternative of liberating the slaves and relying upon them to secure the independence of the Confederacy, or of absolute subjugation. There was wide-spread discontent; and when news of the re-election of President Lincoln, by an unprecedented majority, reached the people, they yearned for peace rather than for independence. The following is the full text of the fugitive-slave law of 1850:

An act to amend and supplementary to the act entitled “An act respecting fugitives from justice and persons escaping from the service of their masters,” approved Feb. 12, 1793.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of [215] America in Congress assembled, that the persons who have been or may hereafter be appointed commissioners in virtue of any act of Congress, by the circuit courts of the United States, and who, in consequence of such appointment, are authorized to exercise the powers that any justice of the peace, or other magistrate of any of the United States, may exercise in respect to offenders for any crime or offence against the United States, by arresting, imprisoning, or bailing, the same, under and by virtue of the thirty-third section of the act of the 24th of September, 1789, entitled, “An act to establish the judicial courts of the United States,” shall be, and are hereby authorized and required to exercise and discharge all the powers and duties conferred by this act.

Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, that the superior court of each organized territory of the United States shall have the same power to appoint commissioners to take acknowledgments of bail and affidavits, and to take depositions of witnesses in civil causes, which is now possessed by the Circuit Court of the United States; and all commissioners who shall hereafter be appointed for such purposes by the superior court of any organized Territory of the United States, shall possess all the powers, and exercise all the duties, conferred by the law upon commissioners appointed by the United States for similar purposes, and shall moreover exercise and discharge all the powers and duties conferred by this act.

Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, that the circuit courts of the United States, and the superior courts of each organized Territory of the United States, shall from time to time enlarge the number of commissioners, with a view to reasonable facilities to reclaim fugitives from labor, and to the prompt discharge of the duties imposed by this act.

Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, that the commissioners above-named shall have concurrent jurisdiction with the judges of the circuit and district courts of the United States in their respective circuits and districts within the several States, and the judges of the superior courts of the Territories, severally and collectively, in term-time and vacation, shall grant certificates to such claimants, upon satisfactory proof being made, with authority to take and remove such fugitives from such service or labor, under the restrictions herein contained, to the State or Territory from which such persons may have escaped or fled.

Sec. 5. And be it further enacted, that it shall be the duty of all marshals and deputy marshals to obey and execute all warrants and precepts issued under the provisions of this act, when to them directed; and should any marshal or deputy marshal refuse to receive such warrant or other process when tendered, or to use all proper means diligently to execute the same, he shall, on conviction thereof, be fined in the sum of $1,000, to the use of such claimant, on the motion of such claimant, by the circuit or district court for the district of such marshal; and after arrest of such fugitive by such marshal or his deputy, or whilst at any time in his custody under the provisions under this act, should such fugitive escape, whether with or without the assent of such marshal or his deputy, such marshal shall be liable on his official bond to be prosecuted for the benefit of such claimant for the full value of the service or labor of said fugitive, in the State, Territory, or district whence he escaped; and the better to enable the said commissioners, when thus appointed, to execute their duties faithfully and efficiently in conformity with the requirements of the Constitution of the United States and of this act, they are hereby authorized and empowered, within their counties, respectively, to appoint, in writing, under their hands, any one or more suitable persons, from time to time, to execute all such warrants and other process as may be issued by their in the lawful performance of their respective duties, with authority to such commissioners, or the persons to be appointed by them, to execute process as aforesaid to summon and call to their aid the bystanders, or Posse comitatus of the proper county, when necessary to insure a faithful observance of the clause of the Constitution referred to, in conformity with this act; and all good citizens are hereby commanded to aid and assist in the prompt and efficient execution of this law, whenever their services may be required, as aforesaid, for that purpose; and [216] said warrants shall run and be executed by said officers anywhere in the State within which they are issued.

Sec. 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 agent or attorney, duly authorized by power of attorney, in writing, acknowledged and certified under the seal of some legal officer or court of the State or Territory in which the same may be executed, may pursue and reclaim such fugitive person, either by procuring a warrant from some one of the courts, judges, or commissioners aforesaid, of the proper circuit, district, or county, for the apprehension of such fugitive from service or labor, or by seizing or arresting such fugitive, where the same can be done without process, and by taking, or causing such person to be taken, forthwith before such court, judge, or commissioner, whose duty it shall be to hear and determine the case of such claimant in a summary manner; and upon satisfactory proof being made, by deposition or affidavit, in writing, to be taken and certified by such court, judge, or commissioner, or by other satisfactory testimony, duly taken and certified by some court, magistrate, justice of the peace, or other legal officer authorized to administer an oath and take depositions under the laws of the State or Territory from which such person owing service or labor may have escaped, with a certificate of such magistracy or other authority, as aforesaid, with the seal of the proper court or officer thereto attached, which seal shall be sufficient to establish the competency of the proof, and with proof, also by affidavit, of the identity of the person whose service or labor is claimed to be due, as aforesaid, that the person so arrested does in fact owe service or labor to the person or persons claiming him or her, in the State or Territory from which such fugitive may have escaped as aforesaid, and that said person escaped, to make out and deliver to such claimant, his or her agent or attorney, a certificate setting forth the substantial facts as to the service or labor due from such fugitive to the claimant, and of his or her escape from the State or Territory in which such service or labor was due, to the State or Territory in which he or she was arrested, with authority to such claimant, or his or her agent or attorney, to use such reasonable force and restraint as may be necessary, under the circumstances of the case, to take and remove such fugitive person back to the State or Territory whence he or she may have escaped as aforesaid. In no trial or hearing, under this act, shall the testimony of such alleged fugitive be admitted in evidence; and the certificates in this and the first section mentioned shall be conclusive of the right of the person or persons in whose favor granted, to remove such fugitive to the State or Territory from which he escaped, and shall prevent all molestation of such person or persons, by any process issued by any court, judge, magistrate, or other persons whomsoever.

Sec. 7. And be it further enacted, that any person who shall knowingly and willingly obstruct, hinder, or prevent such claimant, his agent or attorney, or any person or persons lawfully assisting him, her, or them from arresting such a fugitive from service or labor, either with or without process as aforesaid; or shall rescue, or attempt to rescue, such fugitive from service or labor from the custody of such claimant, his or her agent or attorney, or other person or persons lawfully assisting as aforesaid, when so arrested, pursuant to the authority herein given and declared; or shall aid, abet, or assist such person so owing service and labor as aforesaid, directly or indirectly, to escape from such claimant, his agent or attorney, or other person or persons legally authorized as aforesaid; or shall harbor or conceal such fugitive, so as to prevent the discovery and arrest of such person, after notice or knowledge of the fact that such person was a fugitive from service or labor as aforesaid, shall, for either of said offences, be subject to a fine not exceeding $1,000, and imprisonment not exceeding six months, by indictment and conviction before the district court of the United States for the district in which such offence may have been committed, or before the proper court of criminal [217] jurisdiction, if committed within any one of the organized Territories of the United States; and shall moreover forfeit and pay, by way of civil damages to the party injured by such illegal conduct, the sum of $1,000 for each fugitive so lost as aforesaid, to be recovered by action of debt, in any of the district or territorial courts aforesaid, within whose jurisdiction the said offence may have been committed.

Sec. 8. And be it further enacted, that the marshals, their deputies, and the clerks of the said district and territorial courts, shall be paid for their services the like fees as may be allowed to them for similar services in other cases; and where such services are rendered exclusively in the arrest, custody, and delivery of the fugitive to the claimant, his or her agent or attorney, or where such supposed fugitive may be discharged out of custody for the want of sufficient proof as aforesaid, then such fees are to be paid in the whole by such claimant, his agent or attorney; and in all cases where the proceedings are before a commissioner, he shall be entitled to a fee of $10 in full for his services in each case, upon the delivery of the said certificate to the claimant, his or her agent or attorney; or a fee of $5 in cases where the proof shall not, in the opinion of such commissioner, warrant such certificate and delivery, inclusive of all services incident to such arrest and examination, to be paid in either case by the claimant, his or her agent or attorney. The person or persons authorized to execute the process to be issued by such commissioners, for the arrest and detention of fugitives from service or labor as aforesaid, shall also be entitled to a fee of $5 each for each person he or they may arrest and take before any such commissioner as aforesaid, at the instance and request of such claimant; with such other fees as may be deemed reasonable by such commissioner for such other additional services as may be necessarily performed by him or them; such as attending at the examination, keeping the fugitive in custody, and providing him with food and lodging during his detention, and until the final determination of such commissioner; and in general for performing such other duties as may be required by such claimant, his or her attorney or agent, or commissioner in the premises, such fees to be made up in conformity with the fees usually charged by the officers of the courts of justice within the proper district or county, as near as may be practicable, and paid by such claimants, their agents or attorneys, whether such supposed fugitives from service or labor be ordered to be delivered to such claimants by the final determination of such commissioner or not.

Sec. 9. And be it further enacted, that upon affidavit made by the claimant of such fugitive, his agent or attorney, after such certificate has been issued, that he has reason to apprehend that such fugitive will be rescued by force from his or their possession before he can be taken beyond the limits of the State in which the arrest is made, it shall be the duty of the officer making the arrest to retain such fugitive in his custody, and to remove him to the State whence he fled, and there to deliver him to said claimant, his agent or attorney. And to this end, the officer aforesaid is hereby authorized and required to employ so many persons as he may deem necessary to overcome such force, and to retain them in his service so long as circumstances may require. The said officer and his assistants, while so employed, to receive the same compensation, and to be allowed the same expenses, as are now allowed by law for transportation of criminals, to be certified by the judge of the district within which the arrest is made, and paid out of the treasury of the United States.

Sec. 10. And be it further enacted, that when any person held to service or labor, in any State or Territory, or in the District of Columbia, shall escape therefrom, the party to whom such service or labor shall be due, his, her, or their agent or attorney, may apply to any court of record therein, or judge thereof in vacation, and make satisfactory proof to such court, or judge in vacation, of the escape aforesaid, and that the person escaping owed service or labor to such party. Whereupon, the court shall cause a record to be made of the matters so proved, and also a general description of the person so escaping, with such convenient certainty as may be; and a transcript of such record, authenticated by the attestation of the [218] clerk and of the seal of the said court, being procured in any other State, Territory, or district, in which the person so escaping may be found, and being exhibited to any judge, commissioner, or other officer authorized by the law of the United States to cause persons escaping from service or labor to be delivered up, shall be held and taken to be full and conclusive evidence of the fact of escape, and that the service or labor of the person escaping is due to the party in such record mentioned. And upon the production of the said party of other and further evidence, if necessary, either oral or by affidavit, in addition to what is contained in the said record, of the identity of the person escaping, he or she shall be delivered up to the claimant. And the said court, commissioner, judge, or other person authorized by this act to grant certificates to claimants of fugitives, shall, upon the production of the record and other evidences aforesaid, grant to such claimant a certificate of his right to take any such person identified and proved to be owing service or labor as aforesaid, which certificate shall authorize such claimant to seize or arrest and transport such person to the State or territory from which he escaped: provided, that nothing herein contained shall be construed as requiring the production of a transcript of such record as evidence as aforesaid. But in its absence, the claim shall be heard and determined upon other satisfactory proofs, competent in law.

Howell Cobb,

Speaker of the House of Representatives.

William R. King,

President of the Senate pro tempore.

Approved, Sept. 18, 1850.

Millard Fillmore.

For additional details of slavery and the slave-trade, see cognate titles.

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