The Impact Of The Fugitive Slave Act

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In the 1850s, because many committee chairmanships and leadership positions were held by southerners, they were able to block discussions of slavery at the national and state level, ultimately giving them power and control over Congress, the Supreme Court, and the government. The United States’ victory in the Mexican War added half a million square miles to the United States, more than a third of its prewar territory. There was a question over whether or not the newly acquired property of California would be a free or a slave state. Congress finally reached agreed to the Compromise of 1850, admitting California as a free state but also gave the South a much stronger Fugitive Slave Act. The Changes made to the Fugitive Slave Act, the Kansas-Nebraska …show more content…
Not agreeing with this act, many Northerners passed “personal liberty laws”, allowing the alleged runaway slave to the right to a jury trial while others just flat out refused to assist in the arrest of fugitive slaves or return them to their masters. Southerners blamed Northerners with interfering with their property rights, and often blamed the slaves’ escapes on Northerners. In order to defuse the argument between the North and South, Congress enacted stricter laws under the Fugitive Slave Act which nationalized the process of slave capture and return by requiring federal judges to appoint “commissioners to overhear cases of accused fugitives and by requiring the active complicity of state officers. All someone had to do was claim ownership over a slave and law officers were required to arrest the suspected runaway. The slave was not afforded a jury trial nor could they testify on their own behalf. With no rights in court, Northerners accused southerners of taking advantage of the fact that slaves had no rights in court and accused them of kidnapping free slaves because of it. Northerners, as anti-slavery citizens, were forced to enforce slavery which intensified their anger towards the …show more content…
The court decided that blacks such as Dred Scott, a slave from Missouri, were constitutionally protected private property of their owners and could not be taken away without due process; therefore, Congress did not have the authority to regulate or restrict slavery in the territories. The court ruled that Congress had no authority to stop slavery from expanding in federal territories, rendering e the Missouri Compromise useless and invalidating the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 rule of popular sovereignty. The decision of the Supreme Court implied to Northerners that slavery had no boundaries and could move without restrictions, into the north with the support of the government. The northerners worried that the Supreme Court would rule against northern state laws in the future which forbid the existence of slavery, in essence, nationalizing

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