1st Session, 30th Congress
Resolutions of State Legislatures
Mr. Underwood presented a report and resolutions adopted by the Legislature of the State of Kentucky, requesting the Senators and Representatives of that State in Congress to urge upon that body the importance of passing such laws as will enable the citizens of slaveholding States to recover their slaves when escaping to the non-slave-holding States; which were referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.
Mr. Underwood remarked, that during the last summer a case had come somewhat under his own observation, which he begged here to present to the notice of the Senate. A gentleman named Duncan had some time previous removed from Kentucky into Missouri; he lost a slave, and followed him into Detroit, and there arrested him. The slave was taken from the possession of the owner there, and an action of trespass was instituted against the claimant, on which the owner, in default of bail, at the instance of the slave, was put in jail. The slave was released. The gentleman remained in jail until, by correspondence with his friends in Kentucky and elsewhere - he (Mr. U.) amongst the number - he obtained satisfactory proof that he was the owner of the slave, and that the proceedings which had been commenced against him were altogether unjust. He took that opportunity to say, that Mr. Norvall, late a member of that body, and without personal acquaintance with the gentleman thus put in jail at the instance of his slave, took an active part in procuring his release. But in the meantime the slave had escaped into Canada; and there was the end of the matter. He then moved that the the memorial be referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, in order that something might be reported which would meet the case.