Jones v Van Zandt (1847)
The case was the second of four major slave cases heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1842, a civil suit was brought by Wharton Jones for $500, the value of an escaped slave who had left Kentucky with eight other slaves and traveled into Ohio. The slaves had been aided by abolitionist and Underground Railroad conductor, John Van Zandt, who had been born in Fleming County, KY. Van Zandt later moved near Glendale, Ohio, where Van Zandt was caught transporting the nine escaped slaves from Boone County, KY. One of the slaves, Andrew, thought to be worth $500-$600, escaped, and the others were placed in jail. Van Zandt and the eight remaining slaves were extradited to Kentucky, where Van Zandt was charged with harboring and concealing the escaped slaves. His attorneys, Salmon P. Chase and William H. Seward, unsuccessfully argued that in Ohio all people were presumed free, and Van Zandt could not have known that he was transporting runaway slaves. The U.S. Supreme Court heard the case in 1847 and upheld the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793. The slaves remained in bondage, and Van Zandt was ordered to pay the fee. For more see Paul Finkelman "Slavery," The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States, Kermit L. Hall, Oxford University Press, 2005; Oxford Reference Online; Jones v Van Zandt, 46 U.S. 215 (1847); and the Jones v Van Zandt case, full text at Justia.com.