Speech of John Hossack on the Fugitive Slave Law

Hossack, John
Speech of John Hossack, Convicted of Violation of the Fugitive Slave Law: Before Judge Drummond, of the U.S. District Court of Chicago. Broadside. Chicago: James Barnet, [1860].

The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 required the federal government to assist with retrieving runaway slaves even in free states like Illinois. In an act of civil disobedience, businessman John Hossack and seven others helped a runaway slave named Jim Grey escape from federal custody just as he was about to be sent back South. Convicted in a Chicago court, Hossack paid a $100 fine and spent ten days in jail, although he was released each day to dine with Chicago officials and prominent citizens. In his strongly worded defense, Hossack argued, “the parties who prostituted the constitution to the support of slavery, are traitors.”

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