Dissertation Writers: The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850

Dissertation Writers: The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850

Identify the impact of the Fugitive Slave Act on the African American population and the ways in which individuals and organizations in black communities responded?

The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 made it easier for runaway slaves to be captured and returned to their masters. Northerners opposed the law; many northern states had passed personal liberty laws that forbade the kidnapping and forced return of fugitives. Personal liberty laws were ruled unconstitutional in Prigg v. Pennsylvania (1842); however, the Supreme Court did affirm that the return of fugitives was a federal matter, in which state officials could not be required to assist.