The fugitive slave laws were laws passed by the United States Congress in 1793 and 1850 to provide for the return of slaves who escaped from one state into another state or territory. The idea of the fugitive slave law was derived from the Fugitive Slave Clause which is in the United States Constitution (Article IV, Section 2, Paragraph 3). It was thought that forcing states to deliver escaped slaves to slave owners violated states" rights due to state sovereignty and was believed that seizing state property should not be left up to the states. The Fugitive Slave Clause states that escaped slaves "shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due", which abridged state rights because retrieving slaves was a form of retrieving private property. After the Compromise of 1850, the Supreme Court made slavery a protected institution and arranged a series of laws that allowed slavery in the new territories and forced officials in Free States to give a hearing to slaveholders without a jury.
The Articles of Confederation of the New England Confederation of 1643 contained a clause that provided for the return of fugitive slaves. However, this only referred to the confederation of colonies of Massachusetts, Plymouth, Connecticut and New Haven, and was unrelated to the Articles of Confederation of the United States formed after the Declaration of Independence. Both Africans and Native Americans were slaves in the New England colonies even in the 18th century. The Articles for the New England Confederation provided for the return of slaves in Section 8:
As the colonies grew and settlers expanded into other areas, slavery continued in the English territories and in former Dutch territories like New Amsterdam, which became New York.
Serious attempts at formulating a uniform policy for the recapture of escaped slaves began under the Articles of Confederation of the United States in 1785.
There were two attempts at implementing a fugitive slave law in the Congress of the