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128   NOVA SCOTIA HISTORICAL SOCIETY.

been regarded "as beings of an inferior order, . . . and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect".

Previous to this decision a great number of slaves had taken refuge in Canada. If pursuing owners could not command the aid of state officials in the capture and removal of their fleeing property, that aid had so often been given to the master to lead the helpless Negro back to a bitter doom that the fugitive felt that no guaranteed safety could be enjoyed except when upon British soil. His escape was too dependant upon the sentiment or humor of the local authorities. Many were less fortunate than the fugitive slave who had reached Vermont when his master pounced upon him and carried him before a magistrate. The slaveholder regarded his proof of owner-ship as beyond all question, but the magistrate continued to demur as if requiring still further evidence. At last the exasperated slave-owner demanded to know what proof would satisfy the judge that the slave was really his property. The startling reply came, " A bill of sale from God Almighty"; and, in the absence of any such title to possession, the trembling Negro left the room a free man.

When, however, the enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Law, enacted in 1850, had been begun, and the " Dred Scott" decision had been given in 1857 in the highest court in the land, affirming the right_of the slave-holder to carry his slaves unmolested into any state or territory of the Union, in no spot in the whole republic, however secluded, could the escaped slave be secure from the pitiless grasp of the master, with the whole power of the country behind him. Even before the "tired Scott" decision had been given, and only a year or two after William Lloyd Garrison had proudly showed a row of escaped Negroes sitting on the platform of an anti-slavery


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