The Washington Post
The Fugitive Slave Act redux
Florida Gov. Ron Desantis (R) is proposing a new immigration package intended to punish Floridians who assist unauthorized immigrants [“Latino evangelicals oppose Desantis’s crackdown on immigrants in Fla.,” Religion, March 11]. Like orders in Texas that deputize citizens against abortion providers, Mr. Desantis’s proposal is pulled from the failed Fugitive Slave Act playbook. Mr. Desantis is substituting his plans for an act of Congress and immigrants for enslaved people.
The first Fugitive Slave Act was enacted by Congress in 1793 to give teeth to the fugitive slave clause, which guaranteed an enslaver the right to recover an escaped enslaved person and imposed penalties on anyone helping the enslaved person escape. Under pressure from Southern states, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 bolstered controls and punishments on those aiding the fugitives and unleashed what amounted to a system of bounty hunters.
The result of the controversial Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was widespread opposition in the North, riots and revolts, the doubling down by abolitionists, the expansion of the Underground Railroad and the act’s eventual repeal.
Mr. Desantis evidently knows enough Advanced Placement Black history to recycle antiquated and racist methodologies that served no one except political officials looking toward elections. I suggest he finish the AP coursework. Monica S. Baker, Chevy Chase