4ème – Slavery in the US


Here are some famous laws about slavery in the US during the 18 and 19 centuries:

[tabs slidertype= »left tabs »] [tabcontainer] [tabtext]Constitution of Vermont (1777) [/tabtext] [tabtext]Northwest Ordinance (1787)[/tabtext] [tabtext]Act Prohibiting the importation of slaves (1808)[/tabtext] [tabtext]Black Law of Connecticut (1834) [/tabtext] [tabtext]Fugitive Slave Act (1850)[/tabtext] [tabtext]Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution (1865)[/tabtext] [/tabcontainer] [tabcontent]

[tab]Chapter I

A Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants of the State of Vermont

I. That all men are born equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inherent, and unalienable rights, amongst which are the enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety. Therefore, no male person, born in this country, or brought from over sea, ought to be holden by law, to serve any person, as a servant, slave, or apprentice [/tab]

[tab]Art. 4.

The said territory, and the States which may be formed, shall forever remain a part of this Confederacy of the United States of America, subject to the Articles of Confederation.

Art. 6.

There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been duly convicted: Provided, always, That any person escaping into the same, from whom labor or service is lawfully claimed in any one of the original States, such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed and conveyed to the person claiming his or her labor or service as aforesaid. [/tab]

[tab]Section 2.

And be it further enacted, That no citizen or citizens of the United States, or any other person, shall, for himself, or themselves, or any other person  either as master or owner, build, fit, equip, load or otherwise prepare any ship or vessel, in any port or place within the jurisdiction of the United States, for the purpose of procuring any negro, or person of colour, from any foreign kingdom, place, or country


[tab]Section. 1.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives, in General Assembly convened, That no person shall set up or establish in this State, any school, academy, or literary institution, for the instruction or education of colored persons who are not inhabitants of this State.[/tab]

[tab]Section 6

And be it further enacted, That when a person held to service or labor in any State or Territory of the United States,  escape into another State or Territory of the United States, the person or persons to whom such labor or service may be due may pursue and reclaim such fugitive person, either by procuring a warrant from some one of the courts, judges or commissioners, … or by seizing and arresting such fugitive.. [/tab]

[tab]Section 1.

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. [/tab] [/tabcontent] [/tabs]



Here are the different summary sentences:

  • This legal text forbids education for black people coming from other States
  • This legal text was among the most far-reaching (for the time) in guaranteeing personal freedoms and individual rights.
  • This legal text abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime.
  • This legal text stated that no new slaves were permitted to be imported into the United States.
  • This legal text created the Northwest Territory, the first organized territory of the United States (where slavery wasn’t allowed)
  • This legal text required that all escaped slaves were, upon capture, to be returned to their masters and that officials and citizens of free states had to cooperate in this law



Here are the instructions for the timeline:

  • Draw some circles at the right place to position the different legal texts.
  • Color the circles in red if the legal text is a step backwards for slaves and in green if it is a progress for slaves
  • Draw some lines staring from the circles and put the name of the legal text, the year and choose and write one quote from each of them.

Author: B. DIDIER