Fugitive Slave Act and the Reactions

The first Fugitive Slave Acts was passed in 1793 that pushed for the capture and return of runaway slaves. The first Fugitive Slave Act allow local governments to take hold of and return runaway slaves their owners and inflict penalties upon those who try and aid them in their escape. There was a high resistance towards the act which led to “the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850”. The new slave act had added provisions including runaways and harsher punishments for those who interfere with their capture. Southern politicians found that the Constitution included a Fugitive Slave Clause stating that “‘no person held to service or labor'” was to be released if they had reached a free state. Anti-slavery in the north had been highly present during the late 1780s to the early 1790s. Most people petitioned Congress to do away with slavery all together. Because the Southerners felt that the debate over wether slavery should be abolished or not Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Law. Much like the Fugitive Slave Act however the law included more detail on how it was to be enforced. Slave owners and their “agents” we’re allowed to hunt slaves in free states and bring them in front of a judge. They were to provide evidence that proved the slave was their property and if the court believed that the evidence was sufficient the owner was permitted to take the slave and return to their home state.

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The law also stated that there would be a $500 fine upon those who harbored fugitive slaves. There were also bounties out for the return of fugitive slaves as well.

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The Fugitive Slave Acts of 1850 were even worst than the previous ones that were passed in 1793. The revised law compelled citizens to turn runaway slaves over to the authorities and the fine for helping fugitive slaves was increased to $1000 and six months in prison. Resistance toward the Fugitive Slave Acts had increased and states like Vermont and Wisconsin were passing laws that bypassed and even nullified the laws. At this time the Underground Railroad had reached its peak. It help many slaves flee to Canada and escape U. S. jurisdiction. I did not have to use the U der ground Railroad but I’ve heard many stories being told about the woman that started it all, Harriet Tubman.

There was a widespread opposition toward the Fugitive Slave Acts of 1850. the law became unenforceable among the Northern states. Both the Republican and Free Soil congressmen created and proposed bills and resolutions that would repeal the Fugitive Slave acts. The laws were enforced until the beginning of the Civil War which started in 1861. When June 28, 1864 came around Congress’s decided to repeal both acts. Why did it take them that long to repeal the acts? They allowed for war, which took place inside the nation, tear apart the country that had worked so hard to build.

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