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Pennsylvania image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

The provisions of the laws of this State, respecting fugitive slaves, are detailed at length is Stroud's Sketch of the slave laws, page 169. The act of 1820 declares, that when a person held to service or labor in any of the United States, or the territories thereof, shall escape into that State, the person to whom such labor or service may be due, his agent, or attorney, constituted in writing, may apply to any judge, justice of the peace, or alderman, and on making oath that the said fugitive hae escaped from the service of the person in whose behalf the application is made, a warrant shall be issued by such judge, justice or alderman, directing such fugitive to be arrested and brought before a judge of the proper county. But no warrant shall be issued on the application of any agent or attorney unless the agent or attorney shall, in addition to his own oath or affirmation, produce the affidavit of the claimant of said fugitive, taken before and testified before a proper officer in the State in which such claimant shall reside, setting forth the claimant's title to the service of such fugitive, and also the name, age, and description of such fugitive. Sec. 6 provides, that when the fugitive shall be brought before the judge, upon proof to the satisfaction of said judge, that the person so arrested owes labor or service to the person claiming him or her, he shall give a certificate thereof to such claimant, or his agent, which shall be a sufficient warrant for removing said fugitive to the State whence he or she fled; Provided, that the oath of the owner, or other person interested, shall in no case be received in evidence before the judge in hearing the case. Sec. 7 provides for an adjournment on application of either party, by satisfying the judge that they are not prepared for trial, and that testimony is wanted that can be had in reasonable time: in which case the person claimed shall be kept in prison until the time of trial, at the expense of the claimant, unless bail shall be given for his appearance; and if the claimant asks the adjournment, he shall give security to prosecute his claim at the time specified. Sec. 9 imposes a penalty of not less than $500, nor more than $1000, for issuing or granting certificates in any other manner than is provided in this act. Sec. 10 makes it the duty of the judge or recorder of any court of record, whence process may be issued, to make a fair record of all the proceedings in the premises the name, age, sex and description of the person arrested, the names, residence, and testimony of the witnesses, &c. to be filed in the office of the Court of Quarter Sessions. or Mayor's Court. Stroud says, that notwithstanding these regulations, while the certificate of the judge is conclusive evidence of the right of property in a slave, great injustice to colored persons may still be perpetrated with impunity. He adds: "ín those States where a justice of the peace, with, perhaps, no other knowledge of jurisprudence than the almost boundless extent of his power and no regard for his reputation, except what the fear of punishment may inspire, sit, if he so please, in the privacy of his chamber, the solo arbiter of the law and the fact, who will say that manstealing may not be prosecuted under the panoply of the law?"