In 1850, United States Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Law, allowing Southern slave owners the right to recapture their escaped property despite any northern relocation. As a result, Boston, a former haven for free blacks and a hotbed for abolitionist activity, was in turmoil. An immediate response to this law in Boston brought the creation of The Boston Vigilance Committee. It is this Vigilance Committee, who, through their detailed records, has allowed us a rare view of Boston’s reaction to the Fugitive Slave Law.
Here is the inside cover of the Vigilance Committee’s Treasurer’s Accounts, Francis Jackson was Treasurer. Careful records showed those who contributed to the work of the Committee, and the ways money was spent, for instance:
1852, July 6 “Lewis Hayden for Mrs. Brown 3. J.S. Brown 5 same for Mrs. Cooley 13.24……….21.24”
1853 Feb 10 “for costs Court in suit brought by Shadrack against his master…”