To prevent kidnapping, preserve the public peace, prohibit the exercise of certain powers heretofore exercised by Judges, Justices of the Peace, Alderman, and Jailors in this Commonwealth and to repeal certain slave laws.
Section 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in General Assembly met, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That if any person or persons shall, from and after the passage of this act, by force or violence take and carry away, and caused to be taken or carried away, and shall by fraud or false pretence entice or caused to be enticed, or shall attempt so to take, carry away or entice any free negro or mulatto, from any part or parts of this Commonwealth to any other place whatsoever out of this commonwealth, with a design and intention of selling and disposing of or of causing to be kept and detained, such free negro or mulatto for life, or for any term whatsoever, every such person or persons, his or their aiders and abettors, shall be deemed guilty of high misdemeanor, and on conviction thereof, in any Court of Quarter Sessions of this Commonwealth, having competent jurisdiction, shall be sentenced to pay, at the discretion of the Court passing the sentence, any sum not less than five hundred nor more than two thousand dollars; one half whereof shall be paid to the persons or persons who shall prosecute for the same, and the other half to this Commonwealth, and moreover, shall be sentenced to undergo a punishment by solitary confinement in the proper penitentiary, at hard labor, for a period not less than five years, nor exceeding twelve years; and on conviction of the second offence of the kind, the person so offending shall be sentenced to pay like fine, and undergo a punishment, by solitary confinement in the penitentiary, for twenty-one years.
SECTION 2. That if any person or persons shall hereafter knowingly purchase, take a transfer or assignment of any free negro or mulatto, for the purpose of fraudulently removing, exposing, or carrying such free negro or mulatto out of this State, with the design or intent, by fraud or false pretences, of making him or her a slave or servant for life, or for any term whatsoever, every person so offending shall be deemed guilty of a high misdemeanor, and on conviction thereof, in any Court of Quarter Sessions of this Commonwealth, shall be sentenced by such Court to pay a fine of not less than five hundred dollars, nor more than two thousand dollars; one half whereof shall be paid to the person or persons who shall prosecute for the same, and the other half to this Commonwealth; and moreover, shall be sentenced at the discretion of the court to undergo a punishment by solitary confinement, of hard labor, in the proper penitentiary, for a period not less than five years nor exceeding twelve years.
SEC. 3. That no Judge of any of the Courts of this Commonwealth, nor any Alderman or Justice of the Peace of said Commonwealth shall have jurisdiction or take cognizance of the case of any fugitive from labor from any of the United States or Territories, under a certain act of Congress, passed on the twelfth day of February, one thousand seven hundred and ninety three, entitled, “An Act respecting fugitives from justice and persons escaping from the service of their masters,” nor shall any Judge, Alderman, or Justice of the Peace of this Commonwealth, issue or grant any certificate or warrant of removal of any such fugitive from labor, under the said act of Congress, or under any other law, authority or act of the Congress of the United States, and if any Alderman, or Justice of the Peace of this Commonwealth, shall take cognizance or jurisdiction of the case of any such fugitive, or shall grant or issue any such certificate of removal as aforesaid, then and is either case he shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor in office, and shall on conviction thereof, be sentenced to pay at the discretion of the Court, any sum not less than five hundred dollars, nor exceeding one thousand dollars, the one half to the party prosecution for the same, and the other half to the use of this Commonwealth..
SECTION 4. That if any person or persons claiming any negro or mulatto, as fugitive from servitude or labor, shall under any pretence or authority, whatsoever, violently and tumultuously seize upon and carry away to any place, or attempt to seize and carry away in riotous, violent, tumultuous and unreasonable manner, and so as to disturb or endanger the public peace, any negro or mulatto within this Commonwealth, either with or without the intention of taking such Negro or mulatto before any district or circuit judge, the person or persons so offending against the peace of this Commonwealth, shall be sentenced by such Court to pay a fine of not less than one hundred dollars, nor more than one thousand dollars, with costs of prosecution, and further, to be committed to the county jail for any period, at the discretion of the court, not exceeding three months.
SECTION 5. That nothing in this act shall be constructed to take away what is hereby declared to be invested in the Judges of this Commonwealth, the right, power and authority, at all times, on application made, to issue the writ of habeas corpus, and to inquire into the causes and legality of the arrest or imprisonment of any human being within this Commonwealth.
SECTION 6. It shall not be lawful to use any jail or prison of this Commonwealth, for the detention of any person claimed as a fugitive from servitude or labor, except where jurisdiction may lawfully be taken by any Judge, under the provisions of this act, and any jailor or keeper of any prison, or other persons who shall offend against the provisions of this section, shall, on conviction thereof, pay a fine of five hundred dollars, one-half thereof for the use of the Commonwealth and the other half to the person who prosecutes, and shall moreover, thenceforth be removed from office, and be incapable of holding such office of jailor or keeper of a prison, at any time during his natural lifetime.
SECTION 7. That so much of the act of the General Assembly entitled “An Act for the gradual abolition of slavery,” passed the first day of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty, as authorizes the masters or owners of slaves to bring and retain such slaves within this Commonwealth, for the period of six months, in involuntary servitude, or for any period of time whatsoever, and so much of said act as prevents a slave from giving testimony against any person whatsoever, be and the same is hereby repealed:
SECTION 8. That the act passed March twenty-fifth, eighteen hundred and twenty-six, and all laws of this Commonwealth, which are hereby altered, be and the same is hereby repealed.