Monday, February 07, 2011

Fugitive Slave Law - Black History Part IV

After passing the Missouri Compromise, this Democratic Congress continued by enacting the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 to require Northerners to return slaves who had escaped. It developed, however, into a means for Southerners to kidnap free Black citizens and take them south.

Out of fear of being captured, many (probably more than 20,000) free Black citizens fled to Canada. The Underground Railroad reached its peak during this time, aiding both slaves and free men to find a safe place to live.

After the Fugitive Slave Law, this same Congress expanded slavery by passing the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. This Act essentially repealed the restrictions on slavery in the Missouri Compromise by allowing slavery to be introduced into parts of the territory where it was previously forbidden. Because the Kansas-Nebraska Territory was so large, it effectually pushed slavery from one coast to the other – opening the entire Louisiana Purchase to slavery.

In the end, this push to increase slave states and territory caused a split in the Democrat Party. Many hoped to reverse some of the damage by this Congress.

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At 7:10 AM, Anonymous JIm Rapp said...

I'm finding your posts on Black History Month interesting. It is a little different take on the issue than I've seen before. You seem to be making the abolitionist issue a Democrat vs Republican struggle. But for many of the years before the Civil War there were slave owners in the South and laborers in the North who were suporters of the Democrats. The northern Democrats tended to be anti-slavery but those in the South supported the institution. It might be more appropriate to simply recognize the opposing forces as either pro-slavery or anti-slavery and not stigmatize a particular political party. Our political parties have evolved over the years and in some cases completely reversed their positions on particular issues.

Thanks to you, Sheila, I've started a Blog of my own, "The Cottage on the Moor". You can find it at

Have a great day and keep writing.

At 9:24 AM, Blogger Sheila said...

Jim, Part of the reason I decided to write these blogs was that I have recently been studying and learning things I had never heard before. My goal is to help others see another part of history also. I know that there is a difference between the Democrat and Republican parties here and hope to not offend. However, the Republicans have been made out to be the racial bigots of our country and I did learn that that was not really the case. I would hope to clear that up, but also give our citizens of color some credit for the accomplishments they've made personally and to our country. Hope you continue to read these. I'll be reading your blog also. Sheila


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