“A Proclamation by the President of the United States” (February 18, 1851)


In “A Proclamation by the President of the United States,” dated February 18, 1851, President Millard Fillmore and Secretary of State Daniel Webster condemn the escape from federal custody of Shadrach Minkins, a slave from Norfolk who had escaped to Boston, Massachusetts, the previous year.



By the President of the United States

WHEREAS information has been received that sundry lawless persons, principally persons of color, combined and confederated together, for the purpose of opposing by force, the execution of the laws of the United States, did, at Boston, in Massachusetts, on the fifteenth of this month, make a violent assault on the Marshal or Deputy Marshals of the United States, for the district of Massachusetts, in the Court-House, and did overcome the said officers, and did, by force, rescue from their custody, a person, arrested as a fugitive slave, and, then and there, a prisoner lawfully holden by the said Marshal, or Deputy Marshals of the United States, and other scandalous outrages did commit, in violation of the law:

Now, therefore, to the end that the authority of the laws may be maintained, and those concerned in violating them, brought to immediate and condign punishment, I have issued this my Proclamation, calling on all well-disposed Citizens, to rally to the support of the Laws of their Country, and requiring and commanding all officers, civil and military, and all other persons, civil or military, who shall be found within the vicinity of this outrage, to be aiding and assisting, by all means in their power, in quelling this, and other such combinations, and assisting the Marshal and his Deputies in recapturing the above mentioned prisoner; and I do, especially, direct, that prosecutions be commenced against all persons who shall have made themselves aiders or abettors in or to this flagitious offence; and I do further command, that the District Attorney of the United States [George Lunt], and all other persons concerned in the administration or execution of the Laws of the United States, cause the foregoing offenders, and all such as aided, abetted, or assisted them, or shall be found to have harbored or concealed such fugitive, contrary to law, to be immediately arrested and proceeded with according to law.

Given under my hand, and the seal of the United States, this 18th day of February, 1851. MILLARD FILLMORE

Dan’l Webster,

Secretary of State.

APA Citation:
Fillmore, Millard & Webster, Daniel. “A Proclamation by the President of the United States” (February 18, 1851). (2020, December 07). In Encyclopedia Virginia.
MLA Citation:
Fillmore, Millard, and Daniel Webster. "“A Proclamation by the President of the United States” (February 18, 1851)" Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (07 Dec. 2020). Web. 30 May. 2024
Last updated: 2020, December 07
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