Fugitive Slave Law

(4392 words)

Historical Context Essay

The Evolution of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850

The laws governing slavery in Antebellum America were as varied as the Southern states that embraced them. There were, in fact, two primary systems of law that governed the life of a slave before the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution was passed in 1865 abolishing slavery in the United States forever. First, each state prior to the end of the Civil War was essentially self-governing and formulated its own statutes concerning the “peculiar institution” of chattel slavery which, by 1820, had largely been abolished by the independent, self-governing northern states. Indeed, historians have argued that, because the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution d…

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Lowance, Mason. "Fugitive Slave Law". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 29 April 2004
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=1333, accessed 08 July 2015.]