Joshua Glover: Freeing the Fugitive Slave Act

WED, FEB 7, 2007 (51:52)

H. Robert Baker articulates the many ways in which the case of fugitive slave Joshua Glover evoked powerful emotions in America in the years leading up to the Civil War.

On March 11, 1854, the people of Wisconsin prevented federal government agents from carrying away the fugitive slave, Joshua Glover. Assembling outside the Milwaukee courthouse, the crowd demanded that the federal officers respect Glover's civil liberties as they would those of any other citizen. When the officers refused, the protesters rescued Glover. The government brought his rescuers to trial, but the Wisconsin Supreme Court intervened and took the bold step of ruling the Fugitive Slave Act unconstitutional. The Rescue of Joshua Glover: A Fugitive Slave, the Constitution, and the Coming of the Civil War delves into the courtroom trials and political battles precipitated by Glover's rescue in Wisconsin on the eve of the Civil War.

+ BIO: H. Robert Baker

H. Robert Baker studies the place of law and constitution in the many struggles that make up North American history. Primarily interested in civil rights and dissent of all stripes, he examines legal concepts and how they permeate popular culture.

Baker's interest in legal history stems from my year as a Fulbright scholar in Canada. Studying the western fur trade colony at Red River (the site of modern day Winnipeg, Manitoba), he was struck by the power of the colony's only law court to unite a fractious, polyglot community of Scots, French, English, and Motis settlers. For a colony that began with the Battle of Seven Oaks and ended with the Riel Rebellion, the court seemingly held the peace in between.

He has published The Rescue of Joshua Glover: A Fugitive Slave, the Constitution, and the Coming of the Civil War in 2006 with Ohio University Press. the latter won the Gambrinus Book Prize from the Milwaukee County Historical Society. A paperback edition was released in January of 2008. His current work continues to look at the question of fugitive slaves in the early republic.

Partner
Margaret Mitchell House & Museum
Series
Slavery and the Making of America Series