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Margaret Aurelia Porter v. Reuben Reynolds records

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Scope and Contents

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Correspondence

Depositions

Testimony

Subpoenas



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Margaret Aurelia Porter v. Reuben Reynolds records, 1810-1812 | Amistad Research Center

By Jennifer Conerly

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Collection Overview

Title: Margaret Aurelia Porter v. Reuben Reynolds records, 1810-1812Add to your cart.

Primary Creator: United States. Circuit Court (3rd Circuit)

Other Creators: Porter, Margaret Aurelia (fl. 1810-1812), Reynolds, Rueben (fl. 1810-1812)

Extent: 14.0 Items

Date Acquired: 08/01/1980

Subjects: Fugitive slaves - Legal status, laws, etc. - United States, Slavery - United States - History, Slavery - United States - Legal status of slaves in free states, Slaves - Emancipation - United States - Case studies, United States. Fugitive slave law (1793)

Forms of Material: Correspondence, Depositions, Subpoena, Testimony

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

Although the case of Margaret Aurelia Porter vs. Reuben Reynolds is relatively obscure, the court case set a dangerous precedent for fugitive state laws and states' rights. In 1810, Margaret Porter - represented by her father, Stephen, because women could not then file suits in a court of law - sued Reuben Reynolds for the return of three fugitive slaves that he was harboring, and she demanded the sum of $1500 in damages for loss of labor and income. This case predated the better-known Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, but its predecessor Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 required that the federal government return fugitive slaves to their owners if they crossed state lines, and any who helped the fugitive slaves could receive a fine of $500 per slave that they helped.  Also, the concept of states' rights is addressed in this case. Even though Porter was from the slave state of Maryland, the three slaves, Cesar, George, and Emanuel, escaped to Reynolds' protection in the free state of Pennsylvania; therefore, the Fugitive Slave Law could not apply in a state where slavery did not exist.  Further, the government of Maryland could not forcibly remove the slaves because they were under another state's jurisdiction.

This collection consists of fourteen handwritten documents, dated between September 1810 and May 1812, relating to the fugitive slave case of Margaret Aurelia Porter v. Reuben Reynolds. While the ruling on the case cannot be determined from the information in the collection, the documents consist of testimonies, subpoenas, correspondence, and depositions that specifically highlight whether or not Betty, the mother of the three runaways, was enslaved at the time of their births, whether Reynolds offered the three men at the center of this case shelter and protection knowing they were runaway slaves, and if Reynolds threatened any witnesses before and during the trial. The case was judged on the precedent of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793, and even though the collection contains a subpoena to appear before the United States Supreme Court, there is no record of a Supreme Court ruling.

Subject/Index Terms

Fugitive slaves - Legal status, laws, etc. - United States
Slavery - United States - History
Slavery - United States - Legal status of slaves in free states
Slaves - Emancipation - United States - Case studies
United States. Fugitive slave law (1793)

Administrative Information

Repository: Amistad Research Center

Access Restrictions: This collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions: Any copyrights such as the donor may possess in this property are hereby dedicated to the public. It is the responsibility of an author to secure permission for publication from the holder of the copyright to any material contained in this collection.

Acquisition Source: C. D. Price, Inc. Autographs & Historical Material

Acquisition Method: Purchase

Related Materials: The American Missionary Association archives document that organization's work with fugitive slaves, particularly in Canada

Preferred Citation: Margaret Aurelia Porter v. Reuben Reynolds records, Amistad Research Center, New Orleans, Louisiana

Processing Information: Collection processed in May 2013


Box and Folder Listing


Browse by Folder:

[Folder 1: Correspondence, 1810-1811],
[Folder 2: Depositions, 1811],
[Folder 3: Testimony, 1811],
[Folder 4: Subpoenas, 1810-1812],
[All]

Folder 1: Correspondence, 1810-1811Add to your cart.
Item 1: Legal opinion of William Lewis, 20 September 1810Add to your cart.
Item 2: Letter from Reuben Reynolds to William Master, 2 June 1811Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Depositions, 1811Add to your cart.
Item 1: Deposition of Judge Jared Ingersoll to William Lewis, 4 May 1811Add to your cart.
Item 2: Deposition from Judge Ingersoll, undatedAdd to your cart.
Item 3: Deposition from personal testimony of Betty, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 3: Testimony, 1811Add to your cart.
Item 1: Notes on testimony, undatedAdd to your cart.
Item 2: List of witnesses interviewed / by Samuel Kedman, undatedAdd to your cart.
Item 3: List of interrogations of David Woods and Sarah Kedman, undatedAdd to your cart.
Item 4: Testimony of Jane Shenk, 1811Add to your cart.
Item 5: Unidentified testimony, April and September 1811Add to your cart.
Item 6: Testimony of Betty, undatedAdd to your cart.
Item 7: Testimony of Betty, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 4: Subpoenas, 1810-1812Add to your cart.
Item 1: Subpoena for Reuben Reynolds, 11 October 1810Add to your cart.
Item 2: Subpoenas, 1812Add to your cart.


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