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Tue, 02.12.1793

The 1793 Fugitive Slave Act Is Signed

*The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 was signed into law on this date.  

This was an Act of the United States Congress to give effect to the Fugitive Slave Clause of the US Constitution (Article 4, Section 2, Clause 3), which the Thirteenth Amendment later superseded. The former guaranteed a right for a slaveholder to recover an escaped slave.

The Act, "An Act respecting fugitives from justice, and persons escaping from the service of their masters," created the legal mechanism that could be accomplished.  It was passed by the House of Representatives on February 4, 1793, by a vote of 48–7, with 14 abstaining.  The Act was strengthened at the insistence of the slave states of the South by the Compromise of 1850, which required even the governments and the residents of free states to enforce the capture and return of fugitive slaves. 

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