Prigg v. Pennsylvania early U.S. Supreme Court case with York County ties
No matter the federal law or Pennsylvania and Maryland statutes in play, runaway slaves slipped across the Mason-Dixon Line before the Civil War. Some found freedom via the Underground Railroad. One such fugitive from Maryland settled in York, Pa., and her freedom became the topic of a U.S. Supreme Court case, Prigg v. Pennsylvania. This drawing comes from Web-based curriulum “Runaway Slaves in Antebellum Maryland,” offered by the Maryland State Archives. Also of interest: For years, York countians part of major court cases and Research needed to unearth Underground Railroad in York County and All Underground Railroad posts from the start.
York County resident Albert Snyder’s federal lawsuit against the Westboro Baptist Church is going before the U.S. Supreme Court.
This is the result of the fanatic religious group’s picketing the funeral of Albert Snyder’s son, Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, the courageous Marine who was killed in Iraq in March 2006. (Update: On March 2, 2011, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 against Albert Snyder.)
Only a handful of important, precedent-setting cases with York County links have gone that high… .
The famous Red Lion Broadcasting versus the Federal Communications Commission in 1969 is one. There, the Red Lion-area Christian radio station squared off over jurisdiction of the airwaves.
Another case came in 1837, Prigg v. Pennsylvania, reached the U.S. Supreme Court and that high court issued a landmark decision.
Here’s the description from “Never to be Forgotten”:
A county court case involving a runaway slave ends in the U.S. Supreme Court. Margaret Morgan, the runaway, lives with her children in York County. Edward Prigg, an agent for her slave master, seizes her without securing his rights by the proper authorities. This violates the state law against kidnapping. Prigg is convicted and appeals his case to the Supreme Court. In 1842, the Supreme Court rules that states are exempt from enforcing the Fugitive Slave Law of 1793, which provided for the return of slaves who escaped to free states. Since Pennsylvania and York County law enforcement officials are no longer required to aid in catching slaves, more fugitives head north, and the Underground Railroad comes under sharper attack in the South. The federally imposed Compromise of 1850 offsets Prigg by introducing the Fugitive Slave Law. This legislation forbids Northerners from harboring slaves and created a federal enforcement system to catch escaped slaves.