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Posts Tagged ‘Fugitive Slave Act

“History, in general, only informs us what bad government is”*…

 

Government

 

In the early 19th century, less than 1% of the global population could be found in democracies.

In more recent decades, however, the dominoes have fallen ⁠— and today, it’s estimated that 56% of the world population lives in societies that can be considered democratic, at least according to the Polity IV data series highlighted above.

While there are questions regarding a recent decline in freedom around the world, it’s worth considering that democratic governance is still a relatively new tradition within a much broader historical context.

Will the long-term trend of democracy prevail, or are the more recent indications of populism a sign of reversion?…

More (including explanations of the methodology and categories used) at “Visualizing 200 Years of Systems of Government.” (For perspectives on the caution at the end of the quoted passage above, see here and here.)

* Thomas Jefferson’s harsh verdict, The Letters of Thomas Jefferson

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As we organize our thoughts about social organization, we might recall that it was on this date that President Millard Fillmore signed The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. One of the most controversial elements of the Compromise of 1850, it heightened Northern fears of a “slave power conspiracy” by required that all escaped slaves, upon capture, be returned to their masters and that officials and citizens of free states had to cooperate. Abolitionists nicknamed it the “Bloodhound Law”, for the dogs that were used to track down runaway slaves.

Law-enforcement officials everywhere were required to arrest anyone suspected of being a runaway slave on as little as a claimant’s sworn testimony of ownership.  In addition, any person aiding a runaway slave by providing food or shelter was subject to six months’ imprisonment and a $1,000 fine. Officers who captured a fugitive slave were entitled to a bonus or promotion for their work.

The suspected slave could not ask for a jury trial or testify on his or her own behalf. Slave owners needed only to supply an affidavit to a Federal marshal to capture an escaped slave.  Since a suspected slave had no rights in court and could not defend themselves against accusations, the law resulted in the kidnapping and conscription of free blacks into slavery. (The film 12 Years a Slave was based on one such abduction– the kidnapping and bondage of Solomon Northrup.)

170px-Slave_kidnap_post_1851_boston

An 1851 poster warned the “colored people of Boston” about policemen acting as slave catchers

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Written by LW

September 18, 2019 at 1:01 am

“Yet in opinions look not always back, / Your wake is nothing, mind the coming track”*…

 

One of ten trends to watch in 2018

From North Korea’s nuclear tests to global refugee flows, the rise or fall in numbers signals where the world may be headed in 2018. To help visualize what’s on the horizon, CFR [Council on Foreign Relations] editors asked ten of our experts to highlight the charts and graphs to keep an eye on in the coming year…

Ten charts and the short essays that explain their importance to our future:  “Visualizing 2018: The Essential Graphics.”

* Yet in opinions look not always back,
Your wake is nothing, mind the coming track;
Leave what you’ve done for what you have to do;
Don’t be “consistent,” but be simply true.
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

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As we monitor the gauges, we might send underwhelming birthday greetings to Millard Fillmore; he was born on this date in 1800.  The last member of the Whig Party to serve as President, he was a Congressional Representative from New York who was elected to the Vice Presidency in 1848 on Zachary Taylor’s ticket.  When Taylor died in 1850, Fillmore became the second V.P. to assume the presidency between elections.

Fillmore’s signature accomplishment was the passage of the Compromise of 1850 passed, a bargain that led to a brief truce in the battle over slavery– a package of legislation so ill-conceived (it contained the Fugitive Slave Act) and unpopular that Fillmore failed to get his own party’s nomination for President in the election of 1852, which he sat out.  Unwilling to follow Lincoln into the new Republican Party, he got the endorsement of the nativist Know Nothing Party (dba, the American Party) four years later, and finished third in the 1856 election.

Matthew Brady’s photo of Fillmore

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