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IMPORTANT SUPREME COURT CASE (SLAVERY AND ABOLITION.) PETERS, RICHARD, Reporter of the Decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States. 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. 140 pages. Tall 8vo, original ribbed black publisher's cloth with title in gilt up the spine; small chip to front joint; spine extremities with minor wear. Philadelphia: L. Johnson, 1842
first edition of the stenographic report on one of the two most important slavery cases argued before the supreme court of the united states. In 1837, Margaret Morgan, a Maryland slave who had escaped into Pennsylvania five years earlier, was apprehended by her master's agent, Edward Prigg. However, after taking Margaret and her children back to the 'Old Line State,' Prigg was himself jailed for violating an 1826 Pennsylvania personal liberty law. Now, even though the local lower level court had charged and found Prigg guilty of kidnapping; conflicting state and federal legislation forced the case up the line to the Supreme Court. 'Few questions which have ever come before this Court involve more delicate and important considerations,' cautioned Chief Justice Joseph Story in his opinion early in 1842. . . .and few upon which the public at large may be presumed to feel a more profound and pervading interest.' In the end, the Court ruled to uphold the constitutionality of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793, and deemed unconstitutional the personal liberty law under which Prigg was convicted. And by empowering the federal government with sole responsibility for enforcing the fugitive clause of the Constitution, released state authorities from any obligation to assist in recovering runaway slaves. Prigg v. Pennsylvania was 'an outrage on justice and humanity,' said Wendell Phillips in the 'Liberator.' 'The decision in Prigg ultimately became an anti-slavery weapon, and it also led to increased demands for a new fugitive slave law. Those demands were satisfied with the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.' Finkelman, (Slavery in the Courtroom, pp. 60-66.)
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