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Black History and Blacks in U.S. History
Colonial America (1492-1765)
Fugitive Slave Laws



Fugitive Slave Laws
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 5
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   5.37

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    abolitionists, disobedience, inspiration, salary, secede, testify, vermont, slavery, compromise, illegal, cases, sponsor, federal, jury, provided, colonial
     content words:    Native Americans, United States, Fugitive Slave Law, Underground Railroad, Anthony Burns, South Carolina, United States Congress


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Fugitive Slave Laws
By Jane Runyon
  

1     In colonial times many different types of people were slaves. Indentured servants were treated like slaves in many cases. Indentured servants promised to work for their sponsor for seven years. In return, the sponsor provided passage to the colonies on a boat, a place to live, and a job. Many times they would pay a small salary to the servant. Those seven years could be very hard.
 
2     Native Americans who were captured by settlers were sometimes forced to be slaves. They would have to do hard labor for their captors for little or no pay. Their life was hard also.
 
3     Thousands of Africans were kidnapped and brought to the colonies for the sole purpose of being sold as slaves. They were paid nothing. They lived in shacks provided by their masters. They became the property of their masters. When you buy a book, it becomes your property. A slave owner paid for a slave. The slave was now his property.
 
4     Many times slaves tried to run away. This was not easy to do. The slave owner would send out search parties when he found a slave was missing. Most of these search parties had dogs that were used to sniff out the scent of the missing slave. The slaves had to be very careful. They would try to escape through rivers and streams to make the dogs lose the scent. If a slave could, he carried ground pepper with him. He would drop the pepper behind him. When the dogs sniffed at the pepper, it made them sneeze. It also stopped up their noses. They would lose the scent.
 
5     If a slave was captured, he had no rights. The slave could be beaten, tortured, or even killed by the owner for disobedience.

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