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Jones v. Van Zandt


JONES V. VAN ZANDT, 46 U.S. 215 (1847), provided abolitionists with an opportunity to challenge the constitutionality of the 1793 federal Fugitive Slave Act and attack slavery itself as contrary to "natural right." American jurist Salmon P. Chase contended that the law violated the Fourth, Fifth, Seventh, and Tenth Amendments. But Justice Levi Woodbury of the U.S. Supreme Court rejected these arguments, insisting that the fugitive slave clause of Article IV was one of the "sacred compromises" of the U.S. Constitution and Congress had power to enforce it. According to the ruling, the constitutionality or injustice of slavery itself was a "political question" left to the states and which federal judges could not resolve.


Wiecek, William M. "Slavery and Abolition Before the United States Supreme Court, 1820–1860." Journal of American History 65, no. 1 (1978): 34–59.

William M.Wiecek

See alsoFugitive Slave Acts .

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