A Rising Tide of Protest and Violence. Chapter 6, Section 2. Resistance Against the Fugitive Slave Act.
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The Fugitive Slave Act, passed as part of the Compromise of 1850, angered many Northerners, rather than easing tensions between the two regions. Many saw it as a means to have Northerners support the slave system.
Some northern states were able to pass personal liberty lawsto nullify the act and actually arrest slave-catchers.
Other individuals did not have the support of the law, though. Some ‘captured slaves’ were really freedmen who had been forced to return to servitude.
When they appealed to judges to regain their freedom, often times judges would rule against them because they received more $$$ for ruling against.
Senator Stephen Douglas revived the debate over slavery in the territories within Congress. The territory at hand, the Nebraska Territory would seemingly use popular sovereignty to decide whether or not to allow slavery, as New Mexico and Utahhad done a few years before.
However, Southerners felt this would give yet another ‘free’ state to the North. In response, the bill was amended to divide the land into two separate territories—Nebraskaand Kansas.
While the majority of people who settled Kansas were farmers, individuals from both the North and the South came to the territory to help populateit with those sympathetic to their cause.
Two governments were established in the Kansas Territory.
Proslavery residents from Missouri, known as Border Ruffianshad coerced citizens into voting for pro-slavery candidates. Two years after entering the territory, these individuals were attempting to establish a constitution that would favor their pro-slavery agenda.
In 1856, the anti-slavery contingent in Kansas had established their own government in Lawrence. They petitioned for statehood in 1856.
Fighting took place outside of Kansas as well. Even in the Senate, tensions flared: after giving a moving speech against slavery, Massachusetts representative Charles Sumnerwas attacked with a cane by South Carolina representative Preston Brooksunconscious.
The two states kept re-electing the individuals, as reminders for each side the growing tension and resolve.