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On its face, the new law simply set out to enforce the U.S. Constitution, specifically Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3, which declared that slaves did not become free simply by escaping to a free state and thus stipulated their return to their lawful masters. Yet, moving well beyond earlier efforts doing little more than lip service to this mandate, framers of the 1850 measure stripped northern courts of their authority over cases in which slaveholders sought return of their reputed runaways, vesting it solely in the hands of federal commissioners, blatantly encouraged to find in favor of the slaveholder by a compensation rate of $10 for each black person remanded South (compared to only $5 when the claim was disallowed). Precluding testimony by the alleged fugitives themselves, the act also compelled otherwise disinterested private citizens, upon threat of fine or imprisonment, to assist in their capture and return of the suspects.
The Fugitive Slave Act - Essay by Seaschell - Anti Essays
Consequently in 1843, Massachusetts and Vermont passed laws prohibiting state officers from performing the duties exacted of them by the first fugitive slave law, and forbidding the use of the jails of the state for the detention of fugitives.
See Both Sides of the Issue
Through the efforts of Frederick Douglass and the work of other outspoken abolitionists, the United States reached a tipping point regarding the continuation of slavery in the nation during the 1840’s and 1850’s.
-Frederick Douglas became an Abolitionist
-He was once a slave himself and he was traumatized by the entire experience
-He like most other Abolitionists believed that slavery was extremely inhumane
-From 1841 to 1845, Douglass traveled frequently with fellow Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison through the Northern states to speak to people about the injustice of slavery
-Douglass states in a speech, "No where has God ordained that this beautiful land shall be cursed with bondage by enslaving men."
-He believes that slavery was not meant to exist in this world, it was not what God intended - Any person caught helping a runaway slave by providing shelter, food or any other types of assistance could spend up to six months in prison and pay a $1,000 fine
-The officers who captured fugitive slaves were entitled to a fee
- This fee motivated some officers to kidnap free African Americans and sell them to random slave-owners -He believed that slaves never should have seen such a hell born enactment as the Fugitive Slave Law - Frederick Douglass helped to organize the famous 1850 Anti-Fugitive Slave Law Convention held in Cazenovia
-Douglass once said, “The arm of the slave is the best defense against the arm of the slaveholder."
-He believed that if slaves fought back hard enough then they would prevail in the end
-Also Frederick Douglass was one of the main abolitionists who led the fight against the law - Known in history as one of the most controversial parts of The Compromise of 1850.