The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 immediately drew a storm of criticism. Northerners balked at the idea of turning their states into bounty hunting grounds, and many argued that the law was tantamount to legalizing kidnapping. Some abolitionists organized secret resistance groups and built complex networks of safe havens to help slaves flee north. The British and Americans recruited African Americans during the Revolutionary War. American military leaders were reluctant to allow black men to join their armed forces permanently, even though black men had fought with the Continental Army since the early battles of the war at Concord, Lexington, and Bunker Hill. The British encouraged runaways – both men and women – to join their ranks. This book perfectly documents the various roles that African Americans played during the war, when they were finally and officially accepted into the ranks of the Continental Army. In addition, it may be decreed that the United States District Courts should, from time to time, increase the number of commissioners in order to provide adequate facilities for the recovery of refugees from labor and for the expeditious discharge of the obligations imposed by this Act. In addition, the Supreme Court of each organized territory of the United States will have the same power to appoint commissioners to receive bail confirmations and affidavits, and to testify in civil cases currently before the United States District Court; and all commissioners subsequently appointed by the Supreme Court of an organized territory of the United States for such purposes shall have all the powers and duties conferred by law on commissioners appointed by the United States District Courts for similar purposes, and shall further exercise and perform all the powers and duties conferred by this Act. Thousands of freed blacks, with the help of interested whites, returned to Africa with the help of the American Colonization Society and colonized what eventually became Liberia. While some African Americans chose this option, the vast majority felt American and focused their efforts on achieving equality in the United States.
Paul Cuffe (sometimes spelled cuffee) was born freely in Massachusetts before the Revolutionary War and became an entrepreneur who saw opportunities in shipping. He believed that Africans and African-Americans could make a profit if they worked together to build their own shipping network. During a visit to Sierra Leone in 1811-12, he founded the Friendly Society to encourage the emigration of free blacks from the United States. He dictated this booklet after this visit. As Cuffe could not interest anyone in financing his colonization plan, he decided to finance it himself, but the United States, then at war with England, imposed a boycott of trade with the British colonies, including Sierra Leone. Finally, in 1815, with a personal effort of $4,000, Cuffee took nine free black families to settle in Sierra Leone. Most northern states refused to participate in the institution of slavery and deliberately failed to enforce the law. Some even passed so-called “personal liberty laws,” which gave accused runaways the right to a jury trial and also protected free blacks, many of whom had been kidnapped by bounty hunters and sold into slavery. At the beginning of the Civil War, the Union had no established policy toward people fleeing slavery.
Many slaves left their plantations for Union lines, but early in the war, refugees from slavery were often returned to their masters by Union troops. However, General Benjamin Butler and several other Union generals refused to take back the refugees under the law because the Union and the Confederacy were at war. He confiscated the slaves as war smuggling and released them on the grounds that the loss of labor would also harm the Confederacy. Lincoln allowed Butler to continue his policy, but resisted broader directives from other Union commanders who freed all slaves in places under their control.  The Fugitive Slaves Act of 1850 was part of the Compromise of 1850. This law required the U.S. government to actively assist slave owners in winning back those who sought freedom. Under the U.S. Constitution, slave owners had the right to pick up slaves who had fled to free states. With the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, the federal government was to help slave owners. Such a requirement did not exist before. In the text, Bibb mentions that “slaves were not allowed books, pens, ink or paper to improve their minds.” He explained that such circumstances gave him a “burning desire.
A fire of freedom in my chest that has never been extinguished. Bibb believed that he, too, had a “right to freedom and the pursuit of happiness.” African-American artist Charles White, born in 1918, created many artistic works that symbolize tendon strength and the character of people of color, including this powerful image of orator, abolitionist and statesman Frederick Douglass. The law affected the prospects of escaping slavery, especially in states close to the north. One study notes that while slave prices rose in the years after 1850 in the South, it appears that “the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 increased prices in border states by 15% to 30% more than in states further south,” showing how the law changed the chances of successfully escaping.  In August 1861, the United States Mason of Virginia drafted the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which punished officials who failed to arrest anyone who escaped slavery and fined them $1,000 (equivalent to $31,110 in 2020). Law enforcement officials around the world have had to arrest people suspected of escaping slavery simply because a plaintiff testified under oath.