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By Christian G. Samito

The 1st entire number of felony heritage files from the Civil struggle and Reconstruction, this quantity exhibits the profound felony alterations that happened through the Civil battle period and highlights how legislation, society, and politics inextricably combined and set American criminal improvement on specific paths that weren't predetermined. Editor Christian G. Samito has conscientiously chosen excerpts from laws, public and legislative debates, proceedings, investigations of white supremacist violence within the South, and infrequent court-martial files, further his professional research, and illustrated the choices with telling interval art to create a superb source that demonstrates the wealthy and significant felony background of the era.           

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24 The Status of African Americans before the Civil War 5. 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 twelfth, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-three, 9 Stat. 462 (September 18, 1850) (Fugitive Slave Act of 1850) As a part of the Compromise of 1850, Congress passed a stronger Fugitive Slave Act that sought to circumvent resistance in the North to returning escaped slaves into bondage.

Came into the state of Pennsylvania from the state of Maryland, some time in the year eighteen hundred and thirty-two; that at that time, and for a long period before that time, she was a slave for life, held to labour, and owing service or labour for, under, and according to the laws of the said state of Maryland . . to a certain Margaret Ashmore, a citizen of the state of Maryland . . ; and that the said negro woman, Margaret Morgan, escaped and fled from the state of Maryland without the knowledge and consent of the said Margaret Ashmore; that in the month of February, eighteen hundred and thirty-seven, the within named defendant, Edward Prigg, was duly and legally constituted and appointed by the said Margaret Ashmore, her agent or attorney, to seize and arrest the said negro woman, Margaret Morgan, as a fugitive from labour, and to remove, take, and carry her from this state into the state of Maryland, and there deliver her to the said Margaret Ashmore; that as such agent or attorney the said Edward Prigg afterwards, and in the same month of February, eighteen hundred and thirty-seven, before a certain Thomas Henderson, Esquire, then being a justice of the peace in and for the county of York, in this state, made oath that the said negro woman, Margaret Morgan, had fled and escaped from the state of Maryland, owing service or labour for life, under the laws thereof, to the said Margaret Ashmore; that the said Thomas Henderson .

Almost the only reason assigned by Lord Mansfield in Sommersett’s case was, that slavery is of such a nature, that it is incapable of being introduced on any reasons moral or political, but only by positive law; and, it is so odious, that nothing can be suffered to support it but positive law. . But although slavery and the slave trade are deemed contrary to natural right, yet it is settled by the judicial decisions of this country and of England, that it is not contrary to the law of nations.

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