Exhibit Theme

Balancing Sectional Interests

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The Fugitive Slave Law, n.d. ca....
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The Fugitive Slave Law, n.d. ca. 1850

Under the Fugitive Slave Law, Congress supported slaveholders’ rights to recover escaped slaves. The law authorized federal commissioners to arrest and return fugitives solely on the basis of a claim by the purported owner, without testimony or trial. The law fined or imprisoned citizens who aided runaways, and it did not protect free blacks wrongly arrested.

Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress

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