Fugitive Slave Clause: Black History Month, Part 10

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Episode Description:
The fugitive slave clause was another compromise the Framers of the Constitution made to ensure that the Southern states would ratif the Constitution. This clause required that enslaved people who escaped be returned to the person who claimed them. This applied even to states where slavery would be outlawed, which would later stoke the outrage of abolitionists and raise tension between the North and the South.

Script for The Fugitive Slave Clause: Black History Month, Part 10

60-Second Civics, Episode 4252: February 10, 2021

The Fugitive Slave Clause: Black History Month, Part 10




Slavery was an unequivocal evil for Africans taken from their homelands and forced to labor in the New World.


Even for slaveholders, slavery was a two-edged sword.


It allowed slaveholders to exploit the labor of African Americans without paying them, making agriculture immensely profitable, but they lived in constant fear of their slaves running away and, most of all, organizing an armed rebellion.


One of the compromises made by the Framers of the Constitution was to insert the fugitive slave clause into Article IV, Section 2.


This clause provided that if a person “held to service or labor” in one state escaped into another, they had to be delivered back to the person who claimed them, even if they had escaped to a state in the North that had abolished slavery.


The clause reinforced the fact that slavery was a state institution, and it gave slaveholders the right to claim escaped slaves.


It was one price the Northern delegates paid to ensure that the Southern states would ratify the Constitution.


That’s all for today’s podcast.


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