Fugitive Slave Act Repeal Response

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
To return to the theme of this thread, I have scanned through my collection of local journals, letters & news papers from the date of the repeal of the Fugitive Slave Act. Nobody even mentions it. I realize that it is a small, regional sample, but I was surprised. There is no notice taken of the repeal.

My supposition is that events had made the Act moot. My favorite curmudgeon did write several entries mocking the airs & dress of self-liberated folk who filled Murfreesboro. The Act was an artifact of a bygone era.
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
Yes, I would describe people pretending to be UGR as pretend UGR, if Rhea is referring to returning runaways or freedmen as reverse UGR, not seeing any sarcasm at all, at least from my end, but merely using accurate descriptive terms.
Would the "reverse underground railroad" be the same as the "pretend underground railroad"?

I just read 'em as I see them.
 

atlantis

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
To return to the theme of this thread, I have scanned through my collection of local journals, letters & news papers from the date of the repeal of the Fugitive Slave Act. Nobody even mentions it. I realize that it is a small, regional sample, but I was surprised. There is no notice taken of the repeal.

My supposition is that events had made the Act moot. My favorite curmudgeon did write several entries mocking the airs & dress of self-liberated folk who filled Murfreesboro. The Act was an artifact of a bygone era.
Was any consideration given by confederate authorities to banish free blacks to the US.
 

Rhea Cole

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Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Was any consideration given by confederate authorities to banish free blacks to the US.
This isn't exactly my specialty. However, there weren't all that many free blacks. I have read accounts of freedmen working as nurses in Confederate hospitals for wages. A surprising number of the Camp Chase body servants captured at Fort Donelson were freedmen. You have raised an interesting question. One of the slave-holding families here in Rutherford Co. TN was black. If memory serves, they owned circa 35-40 slaves. The location of their place is now Long Hunter State Park on the outskirts of Nashville. As far as I know, they stayed home throughout the war. My guess would be that the Confederate authorities had more than enough trouble from self-liberation, deserters & men refusing conscription to add free black folks to their to do list.
 
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Viper21

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Rockbridge County, Virginia
This isn't exactly my specialty. However, there weren't all that many free blacks. I have read accounts of freedmen working as nurses in Confederate hospitals for wages. A surprising number of the Camp Chase body servants captured at Fort Donelson were freedmen. You have raised an interesting question. One of the slave-holding families here in Rutherford Co. TN was black. If memory serves, they owned circa 35-40 slaves. The location of their place is now Long Hunter State Park on the outskirts of Nashville. As far as I know, they stayed home throughout the war. My guess would be that the Confederate authorities had more than enough trouble from self-liberation, deserters & men refusing conscription to add free black folks to their to do list.
The Free Black population in 1860 was 475,000+. The majority of Freemen, lived in slaveholding states, as they always had.

 

Rhea Cole

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Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
The Free Black population in 1860 was 475,000+. The majority of Freemen, lived in slaveholding states, as they always had.

Where did freemen live? For simplicity, I will round off the numbers. The distribution was almost even: 251,000 in slave states vs 226,000 in free states.

Virginia, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Tennessee & North Carolina, the Upper South, had 210,00 freemen. Add in the 19,000 in Louisiana & the total of 229,000 freemen means that 95% were concentrated is just 6 states. The 10,000 in South Carolina leaves a small fraction to be distributed throughout the remaining slave states. There were 144 free blacks in Arkansas, 773 in Mississippi, Texas 355, for example.

To directly address the theme of this tread, the reaction to the repeal of the Fugitive Slave Act, in half of the slave states, the population of freedmen was very small. Their reaction one way or the other to the repeal would not have loomed large.

A couple of interesting points. By 1860, only 330 enslaved people had been successfully returned via the Fugitive Slave Act. The resistance associated with the 1850 act was obviously very effective. It wasn't until June 28, 1864 that the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was repealed. Given what was going on in June of 1864, I can understand the dearth of reactions.
 
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Viper21

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Where did they live? Locally, a free black man owned land via his Revolutionary War service. In most, if not all, slave states a freed slave had to leave the state. I know that there are areas of Virginia where free blacks lived from Colonial times due to a friend's family connection. 4,000,000 slaves vs less than 500,000 free black persons is thought provoking.
Have you read the Yankee Black codes..? Plenty of Yankee states didn't allow Black people in their state, or territory. I know Indiana had it in their Constitution.

Thought provoking..? Sure. I'll tell ya something else thought provoking...... At no time did more Black people live in the "Free" states, than the slave holding states. Kind of shoots the bastions of racial equality argument that some spew, out the window.

Black folks were a HUGE % of the population of the Slave holding states. Even if you only count the Freemen, they were a MUCH higher % of the population than they were in Yankee land. The Northern states had a considerably higher population yet, had less Black people in their numbers.
 

Rhea Cole

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Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Have you read the Yankee Black codes..? Plenty of Yankee states didn't allow Black people in their state, or territory. I know Indiana had it in their Constitution.

Thought provoking..? Sure. I'll tell ya something else thought provoking...... At no time did more Black people live in the "Free" states, than the slave holding states. Kind of shoots the bastions of racial equality argument that some spew, out the window.

Black folks were a HUGE % of the population of the Slave holding states. Even if you only count the Freemen, they were a MUCH higher % of the population than they were in Yankee land. The Northern states had a considerably higher population yet, had less Black people in their numbers.
To begin with, according to the census data you posted, there were only 25,000 more freemen in the slave states vs free. Pennsylvania & Virginia had almost the same number of freemen living under profoundly different laws.

I have repeatedly agreed that bigotry & racism were ubiquitous in the 19th Century. In 1860, about 60% of the population of South Carolina was enslaved. 10,000 freedmen lived in South Carolina under draconian laws. I can only conclude from the content of your off topic posts on this thread that you believe that the 1,000 slaves & 7,628 free black folks living Illinois, the only free state with legal slavery, were some kind of moral equilivant of South Carolina. In all candor, that is a logical leap that I find hard to follow.
 
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unionblue

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Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
Have you read the Yankee Black codes..? Plenty of Yankee states didn't allow Black people in their state, or territory. I know Indiana had it in their Constitution.

Thought provoking..? Sure. I'll tell ya something else thought provoking...... At no time did more Black people live in the "Free" states, than the slave holding states. Kind of shoots the bastions of racial equality argument that some spew, out the window.

Black folks were a HUGE % of the population of the Slave holding states. Even if you only count the Freemen, they were a MUCH higher % of the population than they were in Yankee land. The Northern states had a considerably higher population yet, had less Black people in their numbers.

And this somehow equates with a rebellion in order to preserve and protect slavery, how?
 

Rhea Cole

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Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
And this somehow equates with a rebellion in order to preserve and protect slavery, how?
I think you have put your finger on it. 'What Aboutism Arguments' are always a diversion from uncomfortable conclusions. It has historical precedent. One of the arguments in favor of slavery was, 'What about the living conditions of free laborers in the North & slaves?' The argument went so far as to assert that there should be very little free labor. Life under the benevolent care of an enlightened slave-holder was far superior to that under the indifferent, rapacious capitalists.

At one time I went to considerable trouble to try to understand the mind of my slave-holding ancestors. The compartmentalism necessary to be a full fledged member of that club was, at first, incomprehensible to me. One of the vociferous proponents of the ideals of slave-holding stated that, "Slaves of the family should not be sold." They could only be happy if held within the benevolent care of their fathers, uncles, & lovers. He & his son fathered daughters with the same slave woman. The son fathered children with his half sisters. That was what the phrase 'slaves of the family' meant. His what aboutism arguments extolling the better treatment of slaves vs free laborers leave me of two minds. He either had an absolute religious belief in what he was saying or was profoundly, absolutely cynical, I have never been able to say which.

Back to the subject of this thread; in June 1864 both of the fugitive slave acts were repealed. Almost from the moment the ink dried, there were attempts repeal the act of 1850. In South Carolina, the refusal of Northern people to cooperate with slave-catchers was cited as a justification for secession. They had demanded ever more drastic measures that would punish people who refused to give up escaped slaves in the North. I suspect that the repeal was seen as Northern people coming clean & admitting that they never intended to honor the right of South Carolinians to reclaim their property.
 

Eric Calistri

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Joined
May 31, 2012
Location
Austin Texas
Did slave owners begin to free slaves in response to repeal of fugitive slave act.

I have never heard of this. State slave laws (or "Black codes") remained in effect. The fugitive slave act, was primarily used to return slaves who escaped into a free state. There are many anecdotes, even late into the war, of slave owners moving their slaves away from the Union Army, or even trying to sell slaves before they might be freed. Most slave owners held onto their slaves as long as possible, and many if not most slaves remained with their masters right through the end of the war.
 
Joined
Sep 17, 2011
Location
mo
They might help enslaved blacks escape to US controlled territory.
Might? Do you have evidence of this? The majority of free blacks in the south lived no where near the underground railway, which was itself largely in northern states.
 
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