top of page
  • Writer's pictureRicki King

Iowa and Fugitive Slave Act 1850

It has been said Slave Dick is the only person charged under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 in Iowa. Dick was charged in 1855 in Burlington, Des Moines, Iowa. The Act is a federal law stating persons found guilty of helping a runaway slave in a free or slave state can be fined and jailed.

Because of the pandemic, I am unable to do further research into the details of the trial. I will be continuing the search for now here is an article written a day after Dick's arrest.

The Slave Dick

"The Slave Dick.


Quite an excitement was created Saturday last, by the appearance in our streets, of a colored man, who was claimed as owing service to Thomas Rutherford of Clark county, Mo. It seems he left the plantation of his master on the 21st, and arrived here on the evening of the 22d, riding his master's horse, and putting up at the Western Hotel. On Saturday morning he was refused the horse when he called for it, under the impression, probably, that he had run away with himself and the horse, having no right or title to either.

The next we hear of him he makes his appearance on the Ferry Boat, in an open buggy with Dr. James some eight o'clock in the morning, crosses the river and has but left the boat, when he is met by two Missourians, Wm. C. Young and Solomon Rose, with revolvers and knives, and ordered to return on board the boat and to this side. This order was obeyed, although made without authority, save that of might. The Doctor with the negro in his buggy, came back to this side, drove up Jefferson street to the Post Office, where, surrounded by a large crowd, the two sat some two hours in the street until the necessary papers could be made out, a writ issued, and an arrest made legally.- We were unable to ascertain whether the negro was prevented from running, before the writ was issued, by the crowd or not. The feeling was evidently with him, however. Most of the spectators were anxious to see the colored chattle run. Many of them would have been glad to see him leave, defending himself from his pursuers with the well loaded revolver with which he was armed. On the other hand there were others who were anxious to have it distinctly known that they were sound on constitutional questions.

The writ was at last obtained and served by Marshal Funk, and the chattle Dick taken before U.S. Commissioner FRAZEE. Mr. Browning appeared for claimant. As Dick had no counsel, Mr. Crocker moved to continue the case till Tuesday in order to give time to employ counsel. The case was accordingly continued till to-morrow and the slave committed to jail.

A good deal of feeling has been exhibited and we are much mistaken if there is not a rather lively time on Tuesday."

Recent Posts

See All

Not in Iowa. News story on Ricki King

I wanted to share a news story in the Des Moines Register about me and what I am trying to accomplish. Opinion: Ricki King wants everyone to know Black people and history are in Iowa. I do, too. Spot


bottom of page