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Fugitive Slaves Recaptured: 1850 | by Washington Area Spark
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Fugitive Slaves Recaptured: 1850

This illustration was originally designed to portray the effects of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.


The Act increased federal and free-state responsibility for the recovery of fugitive slaves. The law provided for the appointment of federal commissioners empowered to issue warrants for the arrest of alleged fugitive slaves and to enlist the aid of posses and even civilian bystanders in their apprehension.


The print shows a group of four black men--possibly freedmen--ambushed by a posse of six armed whites in a cornfield. One of the white men fires on them, while two of his companions reload their muskets. Two of the blacks have evidently been hit; one has fallen to the ground while the second staggers, clutching the back of his bleeding head.


For a short blog post on an 1845 Maryland slave revolt, see


For more information and additional images, see


Published by Hoff & Bloede, 1850. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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Taken on January 1, 1850