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Fugitive slave laws

slaves slavery trial north

Fugitive slave laws, laws passed by U.S. Congress in 1793 and 1850 to deter slaves from fleeing to nonslave states. The 1793 act denied runaway slaves the benefit of jury trial. However, some states in the North passed personal-liberty laws providing the right to trial for fugitives. The Compromise of 1850, an attempt to preserve the Union, which was threatened by tensions between the South and the North over the spread of slavery to the western territories, imposed severe fines and imprisonment on U.S. marshals and citizens who helped or failed to apprehend runaway slaves. The laws only hardened opposition and were defied by abolitionists, further fueling the Southern desire for secession. The laws were repealed in 1864.

See also: Slavery.

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