Vermont Personal Liberty Law (1858)


It is hereby enacted, &c.:

Sec. 1. No person within this State shall be considered as property, or subject, as such, to sale, purchase, ordelivery; nor shall any person, within the limits of this State, at this time, be deprived of liberty or property without due process of law.

Sec. 2. Due process of law, mentioned in the preceding section of this Act shall, in all cases, be defined to mean the usual process and forms in force by the laws of this State, and issued by the courts thereof; and under such process, such person shall be entitled to a trial by jury.

Sec. 3. Whenever any person in this State shall be deprived of liberty, arrested, or detained, on the ground that such person owes service or labor to another person, not an inhabitant of this State, either party may claim a trial by jury; and, in such case, challenges shall be allowed to the defendant agreeably to sections four and five of chapter one hundred and eleven of the compiled statutes.

Sec. 4. Every person who shall deprive or attempt to deprive any other person of his or her liberty, contrary to the preceding sections of this Act, shall, on conviction thereof, forfeit and pay a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars nor less than five hundred dollars, or be punished by imprisonment in the State Prison for a term not exceeding ten years: Provided, that nothing in said preceding sections shall apply to, or affect the right to arrest or imprison under existing laws for contempt of court.

Sec. 5. Neither descent near or remote from an African, whether such African is or may have been a slave or not, nor color of skin or complexion, shall disqualify any person from being, or prevent any person from becoming, a citizen of this State, nor deprive such person of the rights and privileges thereof.

Sec. 6. Every person who may have been held as a slave, who shall come, or be brought, or be in this State, with or without the consent of his or her master or mistress, or who shall come, or be brought, or be, involuntarily or in any way in this State, shall be free.

Sec. 7. Every person who shall hold, or attempt to hold, in this State, in slavery, or as a slave, any person mentioned as a slave in the sixth section of this act, or any free person, in any form, or for any time, however short, under pretence that such person is or has been a slave, shall, on conviction thereof, be imprisoned in the State Prison for a term not less than one year, nor more than fifteen years, and be fined not exceeding two thousand dollars.

Sec. 8. All Acts and parts of Acts inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are hereby repealed.

Sec. 9. This Act shall take effect from its passage.

Approved November 25, 1858.

source: Lydia Maria Child, The Duty of Civil Disobedience to the Fugitive Slave Act: An Appeal to the Legislators of Massachusetts (Boston: American Anti-Slavery Society, 1860), Anti-Slavery Tracts No. 9, 36

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