Fugitive Slave Law Essay

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But the South still didn’t have enough to keep slaves from absconding. In 1850, the South pushed through Congress an even harsher and more punitive law, which was more invasive of the rights claimed by free states. The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 specifically required all marshals and deputy marshals to carry out its provisions. These provisions included to arrest and keep safe fugitives and to assist slave holders in returning their slaves. The provisions also included a command to citizens to aid and assist in the execution of the law, and it ordered local courts to issue to slaveholders certificates empowering them to use force and restraint to remove and return their fugitives. It forbade either interference with this process or offering any help to fugitives. And it prohibited a jury trial…show more content…
Cotton had become America’s most valuable export; more valuable, in fact, than everything else the nation exported to the world combined (Horton and Horton, 2005). The worth of slaves increased correspondingly so that on the eve of the Civil War their value was greater than the total value of all the nation’s banks, railroads, and manufacturing (Horton and Horton, 2005). That allowed the South to translate its economic power into political power. Consequently, by 1860, slaveholders and their sympathizers controlled the Supreme Court and the major committees of Congress. In addition, they had a strong supporter in the President, Pennsylvania-born James Buchanan. Still, with all that, the slaveholding South feared that its ability to protect slavery was in danger. Convinced that the influence of the abolition movement was growing, many southerners began to call for secession from the United States. If slavery and the southern way of life that it made possible were to be protected, they argued, the South must become an independent nation (Horton and Horton,
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