Kate Birkbeck is a first year PhD student in History at Yale University. She has also received degrees from University College London and the University of Cambridge. Her interests are in state violence in the nineteenth century United States. Her research has been generously supported by the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the Nathan Hale Associates Program, and the Isaac Newton Trust, among others.

Book Review: The Captive’s Quest for Freedom: Fugitive Slaves, the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law, and the Politics of Slavery by RJM Blackett

In his new book The Captive’s Quest for Freedom, Richard Blackett isolates the Fugitive Slave Law as not merely a prerequisite for Southern agreement to the compromise but one of the most crucial political and legislative decisions in US history. The Fugitive Slave Law nationalized the recapture of escaped slaves and clearly implicated Northerners in the institution of slavery. He shows how the law politicized the escape of enslaved people to the North. Continue reading