Federal and state support for slavery empowered slave owners in their efforts to capture and forcibly remove runaway slaves. Some Northern states, including Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, adopted personal liberty laws in order to shield free blacks from unscrupulous slave catchers. The states in the Old Northwest did not adopt personal liberty laws; nevertheless, most of them adopted modest laws against kidnapping. Illinois also adopted laws to prevent the kidnapping of free blacks. But anti-kidnapping laws were rarely an effective deterrent to violence against free blacks.
An act to more effectively prevent kidnapping and for other purposes. Approved January 17, 1825, Laws of Illinois.
Section 1. Be it enacted by the people of the state of Illinois represented in the General Assembly, That if any person or persons shall kidnap, steal, seize, take, and carry away, from and out of this state or from and out of any one county in this state, into any other county, or shall make an attempt to do the same, any negro, mulatto, or person of color, with intent to subject such negro, mulatto, or person of color to involuntary slavery or servitude, to which he or she is not liable, or shall cause or procure it to be done, or shall aid, abet, or assist any other person in doing it, the person or persons so offending, upon conviction thereof, shall be deemed guilty of felony, and shall be punished with stripes, not less than twenty-five, nor more than one hundred, and shall stand in the pillory not less than two nor more than four hours, and shall also be fined in the sum of one thousand dollars, and pay the costs of prosecution.