Slavery and the Making of AmericaDramatic re-enactment of a slave in uniform
Time and Place Slave Memories Resources The Slave Experience

The Slave Experience: Legal Rights & Gov't
Intro Historical Overview Character Spotlight You be the Judge Personal Narratives Original Docs
You be the Judge Legal Rights & Gov't
Colonel Charles F. Suttle v. Anthony Burns (1854)
Colonel Suttle of Virginia claims that Anthony Burns is his slave, and that Burns owes him service and labor.
Continue to evidence
The Counsel The Judge
Edward G. Parker and Seth J. Thomas, Counsel for the government

Richard H. Dana, Jr. and Charles M. Ellis, Esq. Counsel, for the defence
United States Commissioner Edward G. Loring
The Plaintiff's Claim The Defendant's Claim
Colonel Suttle of Virginia claims that Anthony Burns is his slave, that Burns escaped to Massachusetts and that Burns owes him service and labor. Under the terms of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, he is petitioning the court for a certificate to reclaim Burns and transport him back to Virginia. Burns' lawyers argue that the Bill of 1850 is too recent to hold unqualified authority, that it has elicited conflicted decisions and dicta in other cases, and that it is unconstitutional because it gives records of the Virginia Court effects not permitted by the Constitution. What is more, it prevents the possibility of trial by jury, violates article four of the Constitution by which persons are protected against unreasonable seizures and article five, which states that no one shall be deprived of liberty without due process of the law. They also claim that there is no evidence to prove that the defendant is the Anthony Burns in question.

Photo of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law
The Laws

The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, section 6
The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, section 10
U.S. Constitution Article. IV
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