A Defence for Fugitive Slaves (1850)
Since, in Spooner’s view, slavery was both unjust and unconstitutional, men and women held in slavery had the right to flee, and other people had the right and the duty to help the runaway slaves escape to freedom. This meant violating the Fugitive Slave Acts and breaking the law, but these acts would be in the freedom-loving spirit of the Constitution.
A Defence for Fugitive Slaves, against the Acts of Congress of February 12, 1793, and September 18, 1850 (Boston: Bela Marsh, 1850).
The text is in the public domain.
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Table of Contents
- POVERTY, ITS ILLEGAL CAUSES AND LEGAL CURE.—PART I. BY LYSANDER SPOONER.
- Act of Congress of 1793.
- An Act respecting Fugitives from Justice, and persons escaping from the service of their Masters.
- Act of Congress of 1850.
- An Act to amend, and supplementary to the Act, entitled “An Act respecting Fugitives from Justice, and persons escaping from the service of their Masters,” approved February 12, 1793.
- A DEFENCE FOR FUGITIVE SLAVES.
- CHAPTER I.: Unconstitutionality of the Acts of Congress of 1793 and 1850.
- section 1.
- section 2.: Denial of a Trial by Jury.*
- section 3.: The Commissioners, authorized by the Act of 1850, are not Constitutional Tribunals for the performance of the duties assigned them.
- section 4.: The State Magistrates, authorized by the Act of 1793, to deliver up fugitives from service or labor, are not constitutional tribunals for that purpose.
- section 5.: Ex parte Evidence.
- section 6.: The provisions of the act of 1850 requiring the exclusion of certain evidence, are unconstitutional.
- section 7.: The requirement of the act of 1850, that the cases be adjudicated “in a summary manner,” is unconstitutional.
- section 8.: The suspension of the writ of Habeas Corpus, by the act of 1850, is unconstitutional.
- CHAPTER II.: The Right of Resistance, and the Right to have the Legality of that Resistance judged of by a Jury.
- CHAPTER III.: Liability of United States Officers to be punished, under the State Laws, for executing the acts of 1793 and 1850.
- A: Neither the Constitution, nor either of the acts of Congress of 1793 or 1850, requires the surrender of Fugitive Slaves.
- B: Authorities for the Right of the Jury to judge of the Law in Criminal Cases.
- ARTICLE I.
- C.: Mansfield’s argument against the Right of the Jury to judge of the law in criminal cases.
- D: Effect of Trial by Jury, in nullifying other Legislation than the Fugitive Slave Laws.
- UNCONSTITUTIONALITY OF SLAVERY. PARTS FIRST AND SECOND.
- ALSO FOR SALE AS ABOVE.