The Week of Feb. 12-18
1793—Congress passes the first Fugitive Slave Law. The law made it easier for a slave owner to re-take control of a slave who had escaped to freedom. Blacks and their supporters were outraged because the 1793 law only required the “word” of a White man before a magistrate to declare any Black person a run away slave and have him or her arrested and placed in bondage. Under the law even Blacks who had earned their freedom or had never been slaves were placed in danger.
1900—Legendary poet James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) writes the lyrics to the song “Lift Every Voice and Sing” as part of a birthday tribute to Abraham Lincoln. In time, the song would become the Black National Anthem.