Tag Archives: 19th century

Abuse of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850

Many cases like this appeared in newspapers run by African American and white abolitionists. Collected from local papers and correspondents, they were shared to keep attention on the abuses of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act. As long as this law was in place, free black Americans could be illegally kidnapped and taken south and sold without any evidence that they were previously enslaved.

This one appeared on the Frederick Douglass Paper on July 16, 1852.

KIDNAPPING. The Ironton Register details a case of kidnapping in Lawrence county. – A negro man, who had been for some time resident in that county, loaned some money to a white man, by name, Collier, who was to give a note for it, payable on demand; but, instead, a note was given payable in a year, including the interest. The negro could not read; but when he learned what the note was, called upon Collier for the money, which was refused.

A day or two after he sent for the negro to come and get his money. The next morning, Collier and two men, named Davis, were seen taking him bound towards the Ohio River. Collier soon after returned, and went to church with the negro’s clothes on!

The absence of the negro under the circumstances, excited the neighborhood, and Collier and the Davises were arrested and held to bail, jointly, in $300. It was soon after ascertained that the negro was in jail at Greenup, Kentucky. He had free papers, which were taken from him.

The accused were indicted but made their escape into Kentucky where they are at large. – Christian Free Press.

To learn more about this law and its tendency towards misuse, check out The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 Explained.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s African American Newspapers Collection. This enormous collection of African American newspapers contains a wealth of information about cultural life and history during the 1800s and is rich with first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day.


Two Poems from Women’s Suffrage Ally, Experience Estabrook (1887)

This letter from Experience Estabrook was printed in the July 1887 issue of The Woman’s Tribune:

Your April number has a poetic selection entitled “Who’ll Rock the Cradle,” of which this is the last stanza:

That kindly hand will present be,
On proud election day,
That rocked the cradle, last while she
Her taxes went to pay.”

—Woman’s Standard.

The thought in this is very good and while I do not care how extensively nor in what form it is circulated, I am going to insist that it shall not be forgotten that it (the thought) belongs to me by right of discovery, and I hereby file with the TRIBUNE, a place altogether appropriate, my caveat as the lawyers call it, against any and all adverse claimants.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s Women’s Suffrage Collection. We can provide access to fully searchable newspapers by and for women including The Lily (1849-1856), National Citizen and Ballot Box (1878-1881), The Revolution (1868-1872), The New Citizen (1909-1912), The Western Woman Voter (1911-1913), The Woman’s Tribune (1883-1909) and the antisuffrage newspaper, The Remonstrance (1890-1913).



June 20, 1893: Lizzie Borden Acquitted of Murder

On June 20, 1893, Lizzie Borden was acquitted of the murders of her father and stepmother.

A summary of the case in Frank Leslie’s Weekly’s June 29, 1893 issue was read by Americans coast-to-coast and helped shape American views of the event and ensuing trial. Miss Borden, in court, was featured on the cover of that issue.


THIS cause célèbre will pass down into the annals of criminal jurisprudence as one of the most remarkable on record—in fact, taken in all its details and aspects it has no equal in the world’s history of crime; and that is saying a great deal. Here were two old people, living the final chapter of their lives in peace and plenty, apparently without a known enemy, who are found in their own home literally hacked to pieces, and without a visible clew to the murderer or murderers. All this took place in Fall River, Massachusetts, noted for its thrift, its steady going, quietly industrious, and frugal people. After a few days’ search the police authorities, bound, of course, to arrest somebody for the crime, bring the focus of their detecting faculties to centre upon the daughter of the murdered man and the step-daughter of the murdered woman, and place her under arrest, charged with the awful crime of killing first her step-mother and then her own father. And they kept her in jail for eight long, weary months before the slow-moving wheels of criminal procedure in the old Bay State could revolve and bring the accused to the bar of justice, to be tried for her life.

Frank Leslie’s Weekly, published from 1855 to 1922, was an American illustrated news publication started by publisher and illustrator Frank Leslie. While only 30 copies of the first edition were printed, by 1897 its circulation had grown to an estimated 65,000 copies.


Reading Aloud for Better Health (1861)

Reading aloud is one of those exercises which combine mental and muscular effort, and hence has a double advantage.

To read aloud well, a person should not only understand the subject, but should hear his own voice, and feel within him that every syllable was distinctly enunciated, while there is an instinct presiding which modulates the voice to the number and distance of the hearers. Every public speaker ought to be able to tell whether he is distinctly heard by the farthest auditor in the room; if he is not, it is from a want of proper judgment and observation.

Reading aloud helps to develop the lungs just as singing does, if properly performed. The effect is to induce the drawing of a long breath every once in a while, oftener and deeper than of reading without enunciating. These deep inhalations never fail to develop the capacity of the lungs in direct proportion to their practice.

Godey’s Lady’s Book— Louis Antoine Godey began publishing Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1830. He designed his monthly magazine specifically to attract the growing audience of literate American women. The magazine was intended to entertain, inform, and educate the women of America.



General Jesup: Treachery – Vile and Unblushing (1838)

(The Colored American/February 3, 1838) The conduct of General Jesup (see note) in decoying the Indians within his power by means of “the flag of truce,” and then sending them to a dungeon, is in the highest degree abominable. It must and certainly will bring down the indignation of heaven. It is not enough that the solemn treaties made with the poor red man, by which their lands were guaranteed, are ruthlessly violated, and the Indians, by the white man’s rapacity, driven far away from the graves of their fathers.

But now TREACHERY is added to COVENANT BREAKING. The doctrine that MIGHT MAKES RIGHT is practiced again. What a miserable wretch this called General Jesup must be, deliberately to plan such treachery upon the poor unsuspecting Indian.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s African American Newspapers Collection. This enormous collection of African American newspapers contains a wealth of information about cultural life and history during the 1800s and is rich with first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day.

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