Fugitive Justice: Runaways, Rescuers, and Slavery on Trial

Hardcover (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from BN.com
$28.27
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $14.89
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 52%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (13) from $14.89   
  • New (5) from $17.00   
  • Used (8) from $14.87   

Overview

During the tumultuous decade before the Civil War, no issue was more divisive than the pursuit and return of fugitive slaves—a practice enforced under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. When free Blacks and their abolitionist allies intervened, prosecutions and trials inevitably followed. These cases involved high legal, political, and—most of all—human drama, with runaways desperate for freedom, their defenders seeking recourse to a “higher law” and normally fair-minded judges (even some opposed to slavery) considering the disposition of human beings as property.

Fugitive Justice tells the stories of three of the most dramatic fugitive slave trials of the 1850s, bringing to vivid life the determination of the fugitives, the radical tactics of their rescuers, the brutal doggedness of the slavehunters, and the tortuous response of the federal courts. These cases underscore the crucial role that runaway slaves played in building the tensions that led to the Civil War, and they show us how “civil disobedience” developed as a legal defense. As they unfold we can also see how such trials—whether of rescuers or of the slaves themselves—helped build the northern anti-slavery movement, even as they pushed southern firebrands closer to secession.

How could something so evil be treated so routinely by just men? The answer says much about how deeply the institution of slavery had penetrated American life even in free states. Fugitive Justice powerfully illuminates this painful episode in American history, and its role in the nation’s inexorable march to war.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

David O. Stewart
In the decade before the Civil War, the Fugitive Slave Act radicalized Northerners by placing the law on the side of slave owners seeking to recover their runaways. Lubet's excellent book skillfully captures the passion of the corrosive courtroom battles that pitted personal conscience against the rule of law and helped persuade North and South that they could no longer dwell together.
Alex Heard
In this marvelously written and meticulously researched book, Lubet explores the fascinating war-by-proxy over the Fugitive Slave Act, which gave Southerners the right to use hired guns to recapture slaves who had escaped to the North. He brilliantly summons up a time when the last antebellum compromises over slavery were clanking toward their ultimate doom.
Christopher Alan Bracey
An original and compelling account of the fugitive slave question and the antislavery lawyers who pushed the boundaries of advocacy in the name of morally just ends. With his signature style, Lubet reminds us of the strength, but also the limits, of what formal law can do.
Annette Gordon-Reed
Fugitive Justice is a riveting study of a tragic era in American history when law unmoored from morality and right held sway and the humanity of people treated as property was systematically ignored. Lubet's brilliant and sensitive work should be read by all who are interested in the development of the American nation.
Kirkus Reviews

Examination of three prosecutions under the notorious Fugitive Slave Act.

The Constitution's Fugitive Slave Clause required successive congressional action to ensure its enforcement, legislation that culminated in the Compromise of 1850's Fugitive Slave Act, intended to reconcile the nation. It did just the opposite. By federalizing procedures of capture and rendition and by criminalizing interference with or failure to help officials carrying out the law, the statute exacerbated sectional tensions and carried the issue of slavery to the doorstep of northerners who preferred to think of it remotely—if they thought of it at all. Although he alludes helpfully to other incidents, court decisions and political commentary on the Act, Lubet (Law/Northwestern Univ.; The Importance of Being Honest: How Lying, Secrecy, and Hypocrisy Collide with Truth in Law, 2008, etc.) focuses on three trials: 1851's "so-called Christiana slave riot" in Pennsylvania; 1854's prosecution of runaway Anthony Burns in Boston, the intellectual capital of the antislavery movement; and 1858's proceedings in Cleveland against the Oberlin College rescuers, whose home was ground zero for abolitionist practice. With sharp scene-setting in each of these locales, careful attention to trial transcripts, sensitive etchings of the people enmeshed in the statute's operation and a clear command of the legal maneuvering, the author demonstrates how shifting public opinion emboldened attorneys to move from reliance on claims of innocence or fact-based or procedural defenses to a forthright call for judges and juries to invoke a "higher law" that appealed to conscience. Passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, theDred Scottdecision and the increasingly politicized and publicized prosecutions under the Act all set the stage for Harpers Ferry—and John Brown's eloquent, higher-law appeal that inspired the North and infuriated the South—and the bloody war that followed.

A stirring account of courtroom collisions at the intersection of law, morality and politics.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674047044
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 11/8/2010
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 972,345
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Steven Lubet is Williams Memorial Professor of Law and Director of the Bartlit Center for Trial Strategy, Northwestern University School of Law.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)