John Bingham and the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850

Gerard Magliocca

Gerard N. Magliocca is the Samuel R. Rosen Professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. Professor Magliocca is the author of three books and over twenty articles on constitutional law and intellectual property. He received his undergraduate degree from Stanford, his law degree from Yale, and joined the faculty after two years as an attorney at Covington and Burling and one year as a law clerk for Judge Guido Calabresi on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Professor Magliocca has received the Best New Professor Award and the Black Cane (Most Outstanding Professor) from the student body, and in 2008 held the Fulbright-Dow Distinguished Research Chair of the Roosevelt Study Center in Middelburg, The Netherlands. He was elected to the American Law Institute (ALI) in 2013.

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3 Responses

  1. Shag from Brookline says:

    Abolitionists did not walk in lock-step on all issues pertaining to slavery. My research for a project demonstrated this well with Wm. Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips on the side that the Constitution was evil because of its fugitive slave clause and other slavery-silent provisions. Some abolitionists took the position that that slavery was unconstitutional, e.g., Lysander Spooner. (Randy Barnett posted an article on SSRN regarding how the views of several abolitionists led to the 14th Amendment.) Following the enactment of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, Spooner proposed how it could be challenged under his theory that slavery was unconstitutional. But he seemed to change after several prominent fugitive slave cases and Dred Scott. Query if Bingham’s views changed after 1850 but before 1860 election?

  2. Joe says:

    The slavery side’s actions in the 1850s made avoiding ‘further agitation’ somewhat moot. Did Bingham support the constitutionality of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 in 1860? Or, was he firmly on the side of those who resisted it?

  3. Shag from Brookline says:

    Barnett’s article is titled “Whence Comes Section One? The Abolitionist Origins of the Fourteenth Amendment” available at:

    It is 96 pages in length. Since my focus was on Lysander Spooner, I printed out only the portion on him. I think it will be worthwhile printing out the remainder.