Resolutions at 1851 Acton Town Meeting
in reponse to federal Fugitive Slave Act


April 11, 1851 Town Meeting Records
(PDF scanned from microfilm of Acton Town Records, Acton Memorial Library)




Whereas the United States Congress at its session in 1850
at the bidding of the slave holdersĀ  and apparently for the promotion
of slavery enacted a law for the recovery of fugitive slaves which
deprives the accused of those means of defense which the Constitution
allows to the most abandoned villian in the land and is so
manifestly iniquitous and unconstitutional as to create
doubts in the minds of lovers of freedom as to their duty in
sustaining said law

And, whereas, public opinion is the expounder of all laws
enacted by an Elective Government therefore we, the Citizens
of Acton feel it our duty to express in this public manner
our views of this, as we believe, unjust and despotic law.


Therefore Resolved that we, sons of the puritans and descendants
of that patriotic band who with Capt. Isaac Davis and other
kindred spirits on the 19th of April 1775 made
the first organized resistance to the armed power of
the mother country while attempting to enforce oppressive
laws in that war which led to the independence of
these States feel it to be a duty we owe to the memory of our
Fathers that we owe to ourselves, to our descendants, to our
Country and to our God, to record our solemn protest against
said law.

Resolved that although we justify our Fathers in their
resistance to the oppressive acts of the Government of
England, we would not be understood as advocating forcible
resistance to our government or any of its despotic laws,
believing there is still power with the People at the ballot box
to cause their rights to be respected and to affect the repeal
of all unjust and oppressive laws and when selecting men
for our rulers if we had more regard for principles than for
party and when depositing our ballots if we would be guided
more by the dictates of reason and the welfare of our race
than by designing politicians and a corrupt party press we
should have less reason to complain of unjust laws and less
fear of losing our liberties.

Resolved that the act for the recovery of Fugitive Slaves with
its summary process, its irresponsible tribunals, its violation
of Habeas Corpus and jury trials, its disregard of ordinary
rules of evidence, and its temptations to bribery is an abomination
without a parallel in the annals of our government
Resolved that the apparent compromise and agreement
between the advocates of chattel slavery and the monied
interest in sustaining the Fugitive act and kindred
measures should be a stimulus to all lovers of Freedom
and the rights of man in uniting to sustain all measures
which tend to advance the cause of human liberty and
maintain our inalienable rights.

Resolved that a compliance with the act for the recovery
of Fugitive Slaves would be in opposition to all our cherished
ideas of the Declaration of Independence, our Bill of Rights,
and our moral duties as accountable beings and that we
would sooner suffer the pains and penalties that might be
inflicted upon us for refusing it our aid than be guilty
of hindering a Fugitive from oppression in regaining
and sustaining that liberty which we believe to be of more value
than gold.

Resolved that as friends of liberty and well wishers for the
peace and prosperity of our country we believe that a rigorous
enforcement of this law instead of cementing our bond of
Union and stopping all agitation on the subject of slavery
will and should awaken the friends of human rights
to increased activity and that our duty as lovers of our country
and our race should impel us to use all the means
in our power for the repeal of this as we believe unwise
and wicked law.