Black History Month 2023

1849 1850 1851

12 Zachary Taylor | 13 Millard Fillmore | 14 Franklin Pierce

African Slavery Cotton Slavery Black Codes

September 18, 1850
Fugitive Slave Act of 1850

Washington, D. C. - The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 became law. It was signed by President Millard Fillmore. It was part of the Compromise of 1850.

This Act gave more power to slave catchers when Black Americans fled across state lines. The Act opened a loophole. It became possible for a slave catcher to enslave 'free' Black Americans. It began with a filed court complaint. If it satisfied the court, the 'free' Black American was enslaved.

The Act of 1793 was more limited. Once a Black American fled across state lines, a slave catcher had to bear the full cost. The slave catcher was only allowed to enter that state, to capture. There was no duty for anyone to help, in the other state.

The Act of 1850 gave more power to the slave catcher. They had the power to demand help. Court officers had to assist, if asked. Part of the cost, was paid out of the U. S. Treasury.

The slave catcher was able to file a criminal complaint against anyone who refused to help. Those who helped Black Americans were open to criminal punishment. This included a financial penalty.

On June 28th, 1864, the Act was repealed.

This act inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe to write the book, Uncle Tom's Cabin.