Monday, January 18, 2010

The Fugitive Slave Act of 1818? Part 8

I'm interrupting my review of the efforts in 1817-1818 to amend the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 to point out that there is apparently next to nothing written about the episode. It strikes me that it would be a great topic for a paper or article. So how 'bout it, you historians and aspiring historians? Sharpen those quills and fire up those word processors!

Other than the brief mention in Earl M. Maltz's Dred Scott and the Politics of Slavery, which got me started on this series of posts, I've found all of three references to the proposed amendment.

In The Slaveholding Republic: An Account of the United States Government's Relationship to Slavery, Don E. Fehrenbacher devotes a brief paragraph to the episode (p. 214).

Fehrenbacher's accompanying footnote cites a single source (other than the Annals of Congress). That book contains a discussion that is all of five or six pages long. For reasons I don't understand, the book is available online: Thomas D. Morris, Free Men All: The Personal Liberty Laws of the North 1780-1861, pp. 35-41.

Finally, I found a very short discussion of some of the arguments made in the debates in David P. Currie, The Constitution in Congress: The Jeffersonians 1801-1829 (p. 306, n. 147).

In the next post, I'll look at the Senate's passage of a slightly amended bill, and the bill's ultimate failure.

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