Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 Law and Legal Definition

The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 created a legal mechanism that enables a slaveholder to recover an escaped slave. The right to recover a slave is a right guaranteed by Article four of the U.S. Constitution to slaveholders. This Act is officially called “an Act respecting fugitives from justice, and persons escaping from the service of their masters”. The Act establishes a mechanism by which escaped slaves could be seized in any state, brought before a magistrate and returned to their masters, giving States the right to demand a slave be returned. The law also makes it a crime to assist a fugitive or a slave in escaping, with imprisonment and fine. The Act establishes a penalty of 500 dollars for obstructing an owner's efforts to retake a slave, or for rescuing, harboring, or concealing a fugitive slave.