Writ of Personal Replevin












History 312: Civil War and Reconstruction Student Web Sites



The second attempt prior to the trial to free Burns was a legal one made by his lawyer, Richard Henry Dana, who was preparing a writ of personal replevin. This attempt was a long shot; it was a tactic used unsuccessfully in all previous fugitive slave cases. The purpose of such a document "was to gain a legal hearing to determine whether a given detainee was or was not lawfully held." The idea behind the writ was that because you would be gaining a legal hearing, you would also be gaining a jury. A jury could possibly "find a warrant illegal or the detention unconscionable and so free the slave." One of the key advantages was you would be appealing to a wider range of society by having a jury and not just the judge. Therefore, Dana prepared and presented the writ to Judge Peleg Sprague, who declined it (von Frank 33, 36). The second attempt for rescue had also failed.


The Vigilance Committee’s Attempt of Rescue

Purchasing Burns’ Freedom


This page was created by Karen Livingood


This page was last updated on 02/02/00