The Fugitive Slave Act

Kate S., 9th Period, October 2012


~ Part of a group of laws included in the "Compromise of 1850" which was meant to solve disagreements between the North and South.

~ Passed by Congress with four members voting against it.

~ Created because Southerners were "suffering" financially because slaves were escaping to the North, often with help from people there.

~ The Act made not only active abolitionists more angry but also enraged those that had not previously been big "movers and shakers" against slavery and that group became much more active.


~ The Act stated that runaway slaves were to be returned to the area they escaped from.

~ All citizens had to help carry out this law by helping capture and return slaves to their original location.

~ The fine for helping a slave escape was $1000 and six months in jail for each slave helped.

~ Established a separate legal process for suspected fugitive slaves.

Millard Fillmore, 13th President

He was determined to enforce The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850.
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Ties to Constitution

The law followed Article IV, section 2 of the Constitution by allowing a federal district judge or a a circuit court judge or a state magistrate to determine the status of a suspected fugitive slave without a jury trial.

The Act Today...

~ The Act was repealed in 1864.

~ Slavery was abolished in 1865.

~ The Civil Rights Movement occurred from 1955-1968.

The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850