Fugitive Slave Law of 1793

         Although Article IV, Section 2 of the United States Constitution guaranteed the right to repossess any "person held to service or labor" (a euphemism for slaves), it did not set up a mechanism for executing the law.

February 12, 1793, the Second Congress passed "An act respecting fugitives from justice, and persons escaping from the service of their masters," that authorized the arrest or seizure of fugitives and empowered "any magistrate of a county, city or town" to rule on the matter. The act further established a fine of $500 against any person who aided a fugitive.




(Teaching syllabus notes of Heather Godley, Scattergood Friends School of West Branch, Iowa)