This collection is of great interest for its papers dealing with the tragic case of John Davis, a slave, made free by Pennsylvania's Gradual Emancipation Act, who was subsequently kidnapped by three men from Virginia and taken to that state. The efforts of the two Abolition Societies on his behalf directly precipitated the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793: "The controversy, over the kidnapping of John Davis, is particularly important because it led to the adoption of the 1793 act dealing with both fugitives from justice and fugitive slaves. The Davis case had important implications for the rendition of fugitive slaves because the three fugitives from justice that Pennsylvania sought were charged with kidnapping a free black. The problem of kidnapping free blacks quickly emerged as a mirror image of the problem of fugitive slaves. Just as southern states demanded the right to retrieve runaway slaves, northern states demanded the right to protect their free black residents from being kidnapped and sold into servitude in the South."1 The papers of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society have long been in the collections of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. (The present material was recently discovered amongst the collection of the David Redick2 (1750-1805) family papers, which are also available from this firm). Housed in a recent ¼ morocco custom slipcase. This case precipitated the first interstate conflict over the rendition of fugitives from justice. The history of the adoption of the 1793 law illustrates the importance of slavery to national politics in the 1790s. This history also demonstrates that in this early period southerners were quick to perceive a threat to slavery and just as quick to organize to protect that institution. As material in this collection shows the John Davis case, which began in the period of the ratification debates, was affected by efforts not to upset the "Federal Consensus" on slavery - which was - that the national government could not interfere with slavery in the states and that support for slavery was part of the national compact necessary to keep the union together. "In 1791 Governor Thomas Mifflin of Pennsylvania requested the extradition of three Virginians who were accused of kidnapping a black man named John Davis, and taking him from Pennsylvania to Virginia, where he was enslaved. Governor Beverly Randolph of Virginia ultimately refused to extradite the three men, claiming that Davis was really a fugitive slave who had escaped into Pennsylvania, (Davis was actually a free black, see below). Mifflin then turned to President George Washington, who asked Congress to pass legislation on both interstate extradition and fugitive slave rendition. The result was the adoption, in February 1793, of a four part staute dealing with both questions, which is commonly known as the Fugitive Slave Law of 1793. How Congress came to adopt that law tells us much about the way the founding generation dealt with slavey. Ironically, Governor Mifflin's attempt to protect free blacks from kidnapping resulted in legislation that provided slave owners with a vehicle for recovering runaway slaves and possibly enhancing opportunities for kidnapping. The John Davis case begins in the 1770's when John was brought by his master, David Davis, from Maryland to western Virginia, or so his master thought and intended. When the longstanding border dispute between Pennsylvania and Virginia was finally resolved John, and his master, were in fact living in Pennsylvania. John Davis gained his freedom under Pennsylvania's Gradual Emancipation Act of 1780. That law declared that all children born of slaves in Pennsylvania after March 1, 1780, were free at birth, subject to a period of indenture. The law allowed masters to retain any slaves they owned in Pennsylvania on March 1, 1780, provided they registered each slave with a court clerk before November 1, 1780. The registration fee wa. Bookseller Inventory #
Title: John Davis and the Fugitive Slave Law of ...
Book Condition: Very Good
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