Primary Sources


Alton, IL Telegraph (

Alton, IL Weekly Courier (

Baltimore Sun (

  • 1851-07-04 “Fugitive Slave Case in West Chester”
  • 1862-08-14 “Correspondence of the Baltimore Sun”

Boston Liberator (

  • 1853-10-21 “Another Fugitive Slave Case”
  • 1855-02-23 “Resignation of a U.S. Commissioner”

Burlington, IA Hawk-Eye (Genealogy Bank)

Chicago Democrat (Cornell University)

  • 1851-06-07 “George W. Meeker”
  • 1854-12-16 “Great Excitement–Slave Catchers Again Defeated”

Chicago Evening Journal (University of Memphis)

  • 1860-11-13 “Great Fugitive Slave Excitement”

Chicago Free West (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library)

Chicago Tribune (Genealogy Bank)

Chicago Tribune (

  • 1857-12-03 “The Fugitive Slave Case at Indianapolis”
  • 1857-12-05 “Another Fugitive Slave Case”

Chicago Western Citizen (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library)

Cleveland Herald (Genealogy Bank)

Cleveland Plain Dealer (Genealogy Bank)

  • 1853-10-24 “The Fugitive Slave Case–Escape of Lewis–Great Excitement”

Edwardsville, IL Intelligencer (

Harrisburg, PA Pennsylvania Telegraph (State Library of Pennsylvania)

  • 1851-10-15 “Fugitive Slave Case–Commissioner McAllister’s Administration of Law”
  • 1859-04-04 “The Fugitive Slave Case”

Huntsville, AL Democrat (

  • 1853-06-16 “The Fugitive Slave Law-Novel and Important Case”

New Lisbon, OH Anti-Slavery Bugle (Genealogy Bank)

New Orleans Crescent (

  • 1850-11-16 Appointment of U.S. Commissioner James L. Jones

New Orleans Times-Picayune (

  • 1855-02-18 Resignation of U.S. Commissioner George W. Meeker

New York Herald ( and Genealogy Bank)

New York National Anti-Slavery Standard (Accessible Archives)

New York Observer (Genealogy Bank)

New York Times (ProQuest Historical Newspapers)

New York Tribune ( and Genealogy Bank)

Palmyra, MO Weekly Whig (

  • 1851-06-19 “The Fugitive Slave Case at Chicago”

Pennsylvania Freeman (Genealogy Bank)

Philadelphia Press (Genealogy Bank)

Pittsburgh, PA Daily Post (

  • 1850-11-21 Commissioner Jacob Bowman Sweizer Appointment

Pittsburgh, PA Saturday Morning Visiter (Penn State University)

Raleigh, NC Weekly Register (

Richmond, VA Daily Dispatch (Genealogy Bank)

Sandusky, OH Commercial Register (Genealogy Bank)

  • 1856-02-28 “The Cincinnati Fugitive Slave Case”

Springfield, IL Daily Illinois Journal (Genealogy Bank)

  • 1857-08-01 “Fugitive Slave Case”
  • 1857-08-03 “Fugitive Slave Case: Decision of the Commissioner”
  • 1860-02-13 “Rendition of a Fugitive Slave”

Springfield, IL Daily Illinois Register (Genealogy Bank)

St. Louis, MO Republican (State Historical Society of Missouri)

Washington, D.C. National Era (

Washington, D.C. National Intelligencer (

Washington, D.C. National Republican (

Archival Collections

Clinton Special Collections, Tutt Library, Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO

Historical Society of Dauphin County, Harrisburg, PA

  • Simon Cameron Papers (correspondence with U.S. Commissioner Richard McAllister)

Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, MD

  • Governors Papers (correspondence with U.S. Commissioner Richard McAllister)

Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City, MO

  • Governors Papers (correspondence with U.S. Commissioner Edward Ingraham)

National Archives and Records Administration, Philadelphia, PA:

  • Record Group 21, Records of District Courts

National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C.:

  • Record Group 217, Settled Miscellaneous Treasury Accounts

Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT:

  • John White Geary Papers, MSS 212

Books & Pamphlets

Biographical Sketches of the Leading Men of Chicago. Chicago: Wilson & St. Clair, 1868. [WEB]

Coffin, Levi. Reminiscences of Levi Coffin, The Reputed President of the Underground Railroad. Cincinnati, OH: Robert Clarke, 1880. [WEB]

Frazee, George. “The Iowa Fugitive Slave Case.” The Annals of Iowa 4, no. 2 (1899): 118-137. [WEB]

May, Samuel J. The Fugitive Slave Law and its Victims. New York: American Anti-Slavery Society, 1861. [WEB]

Norton, W.T. ed. Centennial History of Madison County, Illinois and Its People 1812 to 1912. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1912. [WEB].

Phillips, Wendell. Argument of Wendell Phillips, Esq. Before the Committee on Federal Relations, In Support of the Petitions for the Removal of Edward Greely Loring. Boston: J.B. Yerrinton & Son, 1855. [WEB]


Secondary Sources

Ayers, Edward L. The Thin Light of Freedom: The Civil War and Emancipation in the Heart of America. New York: W.W. Norton, 2017.

Baker, Gordon S. The Imperfect Revolution: Anthony Burns and the Landscape of Race in Antebellum America. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 2010.

Baker, H. Robert. The Rescue of Joshua Glover: A Fugitive Slave, the Constitution, and the Coming of the Civil War. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2006.

Blackett, Richard. Making Freedom: The Underground Railroad and the Politics of Slavery. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2013.

Blackett, Richard. The Captive’s Quest for Freedom: Fugitive Slaves, the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law, and the Politics of Slavery. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2018.

Blight, David W. Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2018.

Blight, David. W. ed. Passages to Freedom: The Underground Railroad in History and Memory. New York: HarperCollins, 2004.

Blight, David W. Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001.

Cahan, Richard. A Court that Shaped America: Chicago’s Federal District Court from Abe Lincoln to Abe Hoffman. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2002.

Campbell, Stanley. The Slave Catchers: Enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Law, 1850-1860. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1970.

Churchill, Robert H. “Fugitive Slave Rescues in the North: Towards a Geography of Antislavery Violence.” Ohio Valley History 14, no. 2 (Summer 2014): 51-75.

Churchill, Robert H. “When the Slave Catchers Came to Town: Cultures of Violence along the Underground Railroad.” The Journal of American History 105, no. 3 (December 2018): 514-537.

Collison, Gary. Shadrach Minkins: From Fugitive Slave to Citizen. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997.

Curran, Nathaniel B. “Levi Davis, Illinois’ Third Auditor.” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 71, no. 1 (February 1978): 2-12.

Delbanco, Andrew. The War Before the War: Fugitive Slaves and the Struggle for America’s Soul from the Revolution to the Civil War. New York: Penguin Press, 2018.

Diggins, Milt. Stealing Freedom Along the Mason-Dixon Line: Thomas McCreary, the Notorious Slave Catcher from Maryland. Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 2015.

Eggert, Gerald. “The Impact of the Fugitive Slave Law on Harrisburg: A Case Study.” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 109, no. 4 (1985): 537-569.

Fehrenbacher, Don E. ed. Ward M. McAfee. The Slaveholding Republic: An Account of the United States Government’s Relations to Slavery. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Finkelman, Paul. An Imperfect Union: Slavery, Federalism, and Comity. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1981.

Finkelman, Paul. “The Kidnapping of John Davis and the Adoption of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1793.” The Journal of Southern History 56, no. 3 (August 1990): 397-422.

Finkelman, Paul. “Fugitive Slaves, Midwestern Racial Tolerance, and the Value of ‘Justice Delayed.'” Iowa Law Review 78, no. 1 (October 1992): 89-142.

Finkelman, Paul. “John Bingham and the Background to the Fourteenth Amendment.” Akron Law Review 36, no. 4 (2003): 671-692.

Finkelman, Paul. ed. Slavery in the Courtroom: An Annotated Bibliography of American Cases. Washington: Library of Congress, 1985.

Finkelman Paul. ed. Slavery, Race and the American Legal System, 1700-1872. New York: Garland, 1988. 16 vols.

Finkelman, Paul. ed. Slavery and the Law. Madison, WI: Madison House Publishers, 1997.

Finkelman, Paul and Donald R. Kennon. eds. Congress and the Crisis of the 1850s. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2012.

Franklin, John Hope and Loren Schweninger. Runaway Slaves: Rebels on the Plantation. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Freehling, William W. The Road to Disunion: Secessionists at Bay, 1776-1854. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Foner, Eric. Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad. New York: W.W. Norton, 2015.

Gronningsater, Sarah H.L. “‘On Behalf of His Race and the Lemmon Slaves’: Louis Napoleon, Northern Black Legal Culture, and the Politics of Sectional Crisis.” Journal of the Civil War Era 7, no. 2 (June 2017): 206-241.

Harrold, Stanley. Border War: Fighting Over Slavery before the Civil War. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010.

Huebner, Timothy S. “Roger B. Taney and the Slavery Issue: Looking beyond—and before—Dred Scott.The Journal of American History 97, no. 1 (June 2010): 17-38.

Lindquist, Charles A. “The Origin and Development of the United States Commissioner System.” The American Journal of Legal History 14, no. 1 (January 1970): 1-16.

Lubet, Steven. Fugitive Justice: Runaways, Rescuers, and Slavery on Trial. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010.

McDougall, Marion Gleason. Fugitive Slaves (1619-1865). Boston: Ginn & Company, 1891.

McPherson, James M. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Middleton, Stephen. The Black Laws: Race and the Legal Process in Early Ohio. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2005.

Murphy, Angela F. The Jerry Rescue: The Fugitive Slave Law, Northern Rights, and the American Sectional Crisis. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.

Morris, Thomas D. Free Men All: The Personal Liberty Laws of the North, 1780-1861. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1974.

Nevins, Allan. Ordeal of the Union: Fruits of Manifest Destiny, 1847-1852. New York: Scribner, 1947.

Pinsker, Matthew. “After 1850: Reassessing the Impact of the Fugitive Slave Law.” In Damian Alan Pargas ed. Fugitive Slaves and Spaces of Freedom in North America. Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press, 2018.

Rhodes, James Ford. History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1896.

Richardson, Jean. “Buffalo’s Antebellum African American Community and the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850.” Afro-Americans in New York Life and History 27, no. 2 (July 2003): 29-46.

Reinhardt, Mark. Who Speaks for Margaret Garner? Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010.

Robinson, Marcia C. “The Tragedy of Edward ‘Ned’ Davis: Entrepreneurial Fraud in Maryland in the Wake of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law.” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 140, no. 2 (2016): 167-182.

Sernett, Milton C. North Star Country: Upstate New York and the Crusade for African American Freedom. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2002.

Sinha, Manisha. The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2016.

Smith, David G. On the Edge of Freedom: The Fugitive Slave Issue in South Central Pennsylvania, 1820-1870. New York: Fordham University Press, 2013.

Von Frank, Albert J. The Trials of Anthony Burns: Freedom and Slavery in Emerson’s Boston. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998.