World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Runaway slaves

Article Id: WHEBN0010979204
Reproduction Date:

Title: Runaway slaves  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Runaway (dependent), Cyrus Gates Farmstead
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Runaway slaves


The phenomenon of slaves running away and seeking to regain their freedom is as old as the institution of slavery itself. In the history of slavery in the United States, "fugitive slaves" (or runaway slaves) were slaves who had escaped from their master to travel to a place where slavery was banned or illegal. Many went to northern territories including Pennsylvania and Massachusetts until the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was passed. Because of this, fugitive slaves had to leave the country, traveling to Canada or Mexico. During the Civil War many slavery advocates stated that most of the slaves stayed on the plantation rather than escape, but in fact there were half a million who ran away, which is about one in five. This is a very high proportion considering many of the slaves did not know where to go or what they would need to survive .


Fugitive slaves early in U.S. were sought out just as they were through the Fugitive slave law years, but early efforts included only Wanted posters, flyers etc.. After the

When mere laws didn't suffice to aid abolitionists, they along with the slaves turned to drastic measures in order to undermine slave owners. Such ideas as the Underground Railroad, breaking work tools etc...were used to either silently get back at them or just flat out stop slavery. Breaking work tools was a common way for slaves to get back at their masters.[4] By impeding the work they could do it also halted the amount of money that could be made off that slave by the master. The Underground Railroad is probably one of the most well known ways that abolitionists aided slaves out of the south and into northern states. In this manner the slaves would go from house to house of either whites or freed blacks where they would receive shelter, food, clothing etc..

Now when the slaves were found gone, most masters did everything they could to find their lost “property.” Flyers would be put up, posses to find him/her would be sent out, and under the new Fugitive slave Act they could now send federal marshals into the north to extract them. This new law also brought up bounty hunters to the game of returning slaves to their masters, even if the “slave” had already been freed he could be brought back into the south to be sold back into slavery if he/ she was without their freedom papers. In 1851 there was a case of a Black Coffee house waiter who was snatched by Federal Marshals on behalf of John Debree who claimed the man to be his property.[5] Even though the man had escaped earlier, his case was brought before the Massachusetts supreme court to be tried.

The Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad was a network of abolitionists between 1816 and 1860 who helped fugitive slaves escape to freedom. The Religious Society of Friends(Quakers,) Baptists, Methodists and other religious sects helped in operating the Underground Railroad. Notable people who used the Underground Railroad include:

Fugitive Slave Act of 1850

The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, part of the Compromise of 1850, was a law enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives that declared that all fugitive slaves be returned to their masters. Because the South agreed to have California enter as a free state, The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was created. The act was passed on September 18, 1850, and it was repealed on June 28, 1864.

Harriet Tubman

One of the most notable fugitive slaves of American history and conductors of the Underground Railroad is Harriet Tubman. Born in Dorchester County, Maryland around 1822, Tubman grew up as a slave. As a young adult, Harriet Tubman escaped from her master’s plantation in 1849. Between 1850 and 1860 she helped approximately 300 slaves escape from slavery, including her parents. During this time, there was a $40,000 bounty over her head for anyone who could capture her and bring her back to slavery. Many people called her the “Moses of her people.” Harriet Tubman also worked as a spy and as a nurse at Port Royal, South Carolina during the American Civil War.

See also


Further reading

  • Baker, H. Robert, “The Fugitive Slave Clause and the Antebellum Constitution,” Law and History Review 30 (Nov. 2012), 1133–74.
  • Bland, Lecater. Voices of the Fugitives: Run away Slave stories and their fictions of self creation (Greenwood Press, 2000)

External links


External Links

  • Millard Fillmore on the Fugitive Slave and Kansas-Nebraska Acts: Original Letter Shapell Manuscript Foundation
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.