Writings of John Quincy Adams - Vol. 6

Writings of John Quincy Adams - Vol. 6

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Writings of John Quincy Adams - Vol. 6

Writings of John Quincy Adams - Vol. 6

Read FREE!

Excerpt

TO EDWARD PERKINS1

LONDON, 6th April, 1816.

SIR:

The circumstances mentioned in your letter of the 3rd instant are of a nature which make it proper for me to observe, that the advice which at Captain Fales's request I shall very cheerfully give, must be considered merely as that of an individual having no authority to interfere officially in the case.

By the laws of North Carolina and at Georgetown (whether in South Carolina or in the District of Columbia) slaves are property, and by the constitution of the United States slaves, escaping from their masters into a state where slavery does not exist, are to be restored them on demand. Captain Fales is therefore in the situation of a person having found on board his ship the property of another man, which he is of course bound to restore. I conceive it to be consequently his duty to take the man back to the United States, to deliver him, if he arrives at Boston, to the marshal of the district, who, upon a warrant from a magistrate founded upon Captain Fales's affidavit of the manner in which the man was found on board the vessel and of his own statement that he is the slave of Mr. Collins, will be authorized to take him into custody until he can be sent back to his master. Captain Fales should also give notice to Mr. Collins of the facts. He has, I presume, a fair claim upon Mr. Collins for payment of reasonable charges for the subsistence of the man while in his involuntary custody, as well as for those of sending him back; and I should recommend that in giving Mr. Collins the means of recovering his slave, Captain Fales ought to call upon his sense of justice and humanity most earnestly for a promise that he will exercise no personal rigor towards the slave by way of punishing him for this elopement. I am, etc.

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