Black History Month 2023

1792 1793 1794

Confederation | 1 George Washington | 2 John Adams

African Slavery Cotton Slavery

February 12, 1793
Fugitive Slave Act of 1793



Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - The United States Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793. It was signed into law, by George Washington. It was the first law to make the United States a legal slave state.

The United States Constitution made slavery the basis for a new nation. However, there was no law to enforce slavery. This Act made slavery a legal right, with force of law.

This Act made 'free' Black Americans into a legal under-class. More than that, no Black American had legal citizenship, in the United States. At any time, free or not, a Black American had to show documents of their status, to any white who demanded them.

The Act only required a claim that a Black American was a slave. Once the claim was accepted in a court of law, the Black American was legally a slave. Without legal proof, any Black American was a slave, in the United States. With legal proof, a Black American still did not have status as a citizen of the United States.

The Act made all Black Americans into classes of human property. The Act NEVER used the words, slave, slavery, enslavement, bondage, nor forced labor.

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