Michigan Legal Milestone
In August 1847, in one of the largest of many raids in Michigan, about 20 to 30 heavily armed men from Kentucky sought to recapture those who had escaped Kentucky slavery and remained in Cass County. The Kentuckians captured nine fugitives from four Quaker farms. Free Blacks and Quakers surrounded the raiders and persuaded them to go to Cassopolis for a legal decision. On the fugitives' assertion, 14 raiders were arrested for assault and battery, kidnapping,and trespass. A Berrien court commissioner heard the case and released the fugitives because the raiders could not produce a certified copy of the Kentucky statutes showing slavery was legal, although they did have bills of sale. While the Kentuckians were on trial, 45 fugitives, including the 9 captured in the raid, escaped to Canada. The Berrien commissioner was later found not to have jurisdiction.
Seven Quakers were sued in U.S. District Court in Detroit for the value of the escapees. The trial ended in a hung jury, but, facing a retrial, two of the defendants paid damages and court costs in the final settlement. Incidents like these infuriated southern slave owners, who influenced Congress to adopt the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, making it easier for them to recover runaways. Michigan passed a Personal Liberty Act in 1855 to try to neutralize the federal law, and the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified soon after the Civil War, made slavery illegal in the United States.
Erected 2005 by The State Bar of Michigan and Cass County Bar Association. (Marker Number 30.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Abolition & Underground RR • African Americans • Education
Location. 41° 54.703′ N, 86° 0.712′ W. Marker is in Cassopolis, Michigan, in Cass County. Marker is at the intersection of State St. (Road M-60) and Broadway Ave. (Road M-62), on the right when traveling west on State St.. Marker stands at the South side of the courthouse next to the sidewalk. Near the intersection of M-60 and M-62. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 100 E State St, Cassopolis MI 49031, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 7 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Cass County Courthouse (within shouting distance of this marker); Cassopolis Veterans Memorial (approx. 0.3 miles away); Lewis Cass (approx. 0.4 miles away); Captain Iven C. Kincheloe Memorial (approx. 2 miles away); Cass County Veterans Memorial (approx. 2.3 miles away); The Underground Railway (approx. 2.8 miles away); The Underground Railroad (approx. 4.9 miles away); Birch Lake Meeting House (approx. 6.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Cassopolis.
Regarding Freedom Road. Michigan Legal Milestone recognizes significant legal cases and personalities in the state's history, and places bronze plaques at featured sites to document the historical significance.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on August 7, 2011, by Dennis Allen Burlingham of Hartford, Michigan, USA. This page has been viewed 768 times since then and 8 times this year. Last updated on November 19, 2014, by Joel Seewald of Madison Heights, Michigan. Photo 1. submitted on August 7, 2011, by Dennis Allen Burlingham of Hartford, Michigan, USA. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.