The Crucial Decision that Undercut the Fugitive Slave Act [Trial]. Prigg, Edward, Plaintiff in Error. Peters, Richard [1780-1848], Reporter. Report of the Case of Edward Prigg Against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Argued and Adjudged in the Supreme Court of the United States, At January Term, 1842. In Which it was Decided That All the Laws of the Several States Relative to Fugitive Slaves are Unconstitutional and Void: And that Congress Have the Exclusive Power of Legislation on the Subject of Fugitive Slaves Escaping into Other States. Philadelphia: Stereotyped by L. Johnson, 1842. 140 pp. Octavo (9-3/4" x 6"). Recent quarter cloth over marbled boards, gilt title to spine. Light toning and foxing to text. Ex-library. Small inkstamps to edges and head of title page. A nice copy in a handsome binding. $1,000. * Only edition. A landmark in the history of American slavery, Prigg v. Pennsylvania was the first Supreme Court case to address the state and Federal laws concerning fugitive slaves, most notably the Federal Fugitive Slave Act of 1793. Prigg, a Maryland slave-catcher, apprehended Margaret Moran, an alleged fugitive slave, in Pennsylvania and brought her back to Maryland. Pennsylvania convicted him for kidnapping because he failed to obtain a state-mandated Certificate of Removal, a court document permitting the capture of a fugitive slave. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed the decision. In an opinion written by Justice Story, the Court held that Congress had the exclusive power to regulate the treatment of fugitive slaves. Thus Pennsylvania's requirement of a Certificate of Removal was illegal under the Constitution. The Court held that slave-catchers could seize alleged fugitives without judicial approval. However, and more important, the Court also said the Federal government lacked the authority to compel state officials to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act. In sum, Prigg v. Pennsylvania undercut the power of that act. Anger in the slave states over this decision led to the Compromise of 1850, which compelled the governments and residents of free states to enforce the capture and return of fugitive slaves. Finkelman, Slavery in the Courtroom 60-64. Cohen, Bibliography of Early American Law 13856.
Book number 64946