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Fugitive Slave Act of 1793


In the 1842 case Prigg v. Pennsylvania, the Court struck a Pennsylvania anti-kidnapping law as a violation of the federal Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 as well as Article IV of the Constitution. Because the Constitution gave the federal government exclusive power to legislate on fugitive slaves, the Court ruled, a Pennsylvania law making it more difficult for slave-catchers to remove blacks from the state was unconstitutional. The decision provoked outrage and resistance across the North, and without the region's cooperation, the federal act soon lost all efficacy. In 1850, however, Congress adopted a new Fugitive Slave Act, which called for federal officials to be stationed in non-slaveholding states and enforce the return of runaway slaves.


For the better security of the peace and friendship now entered into by the contracting parties, against all infractions of the same, by the citizens of either party, to the prejudice of the other, neither party shall proceed to the infliction of punishments on the citizens of the other, otherwise than by securing the offender, or offenders, by imprisonment, or any other competent means, till a fair and impartial trial can be had by judges or juries of both parties, as near as can be, to the laws, customs, and usage's of the contracting parties, and natural justice: the mode of such trials to be hereafter fixed by the wise men of the United States, in congress assembled, with the assistance of such deputies of the Delaware nation, as may be appointed to act in concert with them in adjusting this matter to their mutual liking. And it is further agreed between the parties aforesaid, that neither shall entertain, or give countenance to, the enemies of the other, or protect, in their respective states, criminal fugitives, servants, or slaves, but the same to apprehend and secure, and deliver to the state or states, to which such enemies, criminals, servants, or slaves, respectively below.