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Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division

Iron Gray (Abel Charles Thomas), The Gospel of Slavery: A Primer of Freedom (New York: T. W. Strong, 1864)

"Negro Dogs"

One of the most common ways to track down runaways was to use well-trained dogs who could follow their scent and, as if hunting an animal, chase them until they were forced to take refuge in a tree or on a fence. Bloodhounds were popularly thought to be the best breed of dog for slavecatching and were even bred for that purpose. Usually the dogs were trained to be fierce; many times at the end of the chase, if the slave catchers were not there to constrain them, they would tear a man to pieces. The situation was so bad that the Georgia Supreme Court ruled in 1855 that dogs could be used to track fugitives if they did not "lacerate or otherwise materially injure the slave."

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