Topic: Bounty Hunters and the Fugitive Slave Act

Connections to the Social Studies Framework

Social Studies Practice Gathering, Interpreting and Using Evidence

Key Idea 7.2e Over the course of the 17th and 18th centuries, slavery grew in the colonies. Enslaved Africans utilized a variety of strategies to both survive and resist their conditions.

Reading Standard Craft and Structure

Compelling Question: How does federal policy impact local communities?

Historical Context:  Individuals were enslaved in New York from 1626-1827. Enslaved individuals used many methods to resist their enslavers including escaping their situation. In 1793, Congress passed the first Fugitive Slave Act allowing local officials to capture escaped individuals and return them to their enslavers. The law also set penalties for aiding an escaped individual. The act also authorized "agents" or bounty hunters to act on behalf of the enslaver to find and return the enslaved. 

Bounty Hunter's Agreement

Courtesy: Schenectady County Historical Society

Document Analysis

Answer the questions in this document analysis form to analyze the Bounty Hunter's Agreement.

Bounty Hunter Agreement Transcript

New York Time Article

Assessment: Write an argumentative essay using information from the Bounty Hunter Agreement and the New York Times article in support of or against changing the names of public buildings.

This lesson was created by educator Amber Desimony through a grant from the Bender Family Foundation.