This section is from the book "The Constitutional Law Of The United States", by Westel Woodbury Willoughby. Also available from Amazon: Constitutional Law.
The same section of Article IV which provides for the extradition of fugitives from justice, provides that "no person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due." This clause is practically obsolete.23 An elaborate examination of the obligations imposed upon the States, and of the extent of concurrent legislative power in the premises is found in Prigg v. Pennsylvania.24
23 The question has been raised whether, since the adoption of. the Thirteenth Amendment, the fugitive slave clause of the Constitution has become completely obsolete. It is generally so held, but possibly not correctly so. The clause in question, it will be observed, does not employ the word slaves. It9 words are sufficiently broad to make the clause cover not only slaves but minor apprentices and possibly others owing services under contract. Indeed, Charles Sumner in a debate in the United States Senate in 1864 maintained that, properly interpreted, it applied only to such and not to slaves at all. (Congressional Globe, 1st Sess., 38th Cong., Pt. II, pp. 1711, 1750). The Thirteenth Amendment abolishes not only slavery but all "involuntary servitude," and it has been held that this renders illegal an attempt to compel, upon the part of adults, the performance of any personal services, whether provided for by contract and already compensated for, or not. Of course, however, damages for breach of contract to render personal services, may be awarded. But this does not render illegal state laws compelling the performance of personal services on the part of minor apprentices, and if this be so, it would seem that a minor apprentice escaping from a State where hi3 services may be compelled, into another State, under a proper law for the purpose, be claimed and removed to the State from which he fled. The subject of peonage will be considered in a later chapter.
24 16 Pet. 539; 10 L. ed. 1060.