This Day (Runaway Edition)

Published:March 1, 2013 by Brendan Wolfe

On this day in 1842, the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Prigg v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Upholding the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793, the justices determined that slaveowners had a constitutional right to attempt to reclaim their own escaped slaves, even when those slaves crossed state lines into free territory. This helped pave the way for the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, the provisions of which were most famously tested—in and out of court—by two Virginians: Shadrach Minkins and Anthony Burns.

Also on this day, in 1864, Union cavalry officers Ulric Dahgren and H. Judson Kilpatrick, in two separate columns, made their way toward Richmond on the famous raid that bore their names. It was a fiasco, and a dramatic one at that, involving spies, secretly exhumed corpses, and secret papers.

And finally, on this day in 1928, the House of Delegates passed the antilynching law by a vote of 74 to 5. A noticeable twenty-one delegates abstained. Governor Harry F. Byrd signed it into law two weeks later.

VIDEO: Contains graphic language