Today in labor history: Petition sent to Congress to end Fugitive Slave Act

On January 2, 1800 the Philadelphia black community petitioned Congress to rescind the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793.  The effort was led by Absolom Jones who was the first African American priest in the Episcopal Church. Born a slave in Delaware Jones purchased his freedom and, along with William Allen, ministered in the Methodist church. Both left the Methodists due to racism.

Jones established the practice of a yearly New Year’s Day anti-slavery sermon. 

The Fugitive Slave Act read in part “..That when a person held to labor in any of the United States, or in either of the Territories on the Northwest or South of the river Ohio…shall escape into any other part of the said States or Territory, the person to whom such labor or service may be due…is hereby empowered to seize or arrest such fugitive from labor…”

Jones died in 1818.

Photo: Wikimedia (CC)


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Special to People’s World

People’s World is a voice for progressive change and socialism in the United States. It provides news and analysis of, by, and for the labor and democratic movements to our readers across the country and around the world. People’s World traces its lineage to the Daily Worker newspaper, founded by communists, socialists, union members, and other activists in Chicago in 1924.