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The Stormy PresentConservatism and the Problem of Slavery in Northern Politics, 1846-1865$
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Adam I. P. Smith

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781469633893

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469633893.001.0001

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Order and the Problem of Law

Order and the Problem of Law

Fugitive Slaves and the Constitution

(p.43) Chapter Two Order and the Problem of Law
The Stormy Present

Adam I. P. Smith

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter describes the impact of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act. It argues that the legal and moral demands being made by the Slave Power severed the relationship between law, on the one hand, and order on the other. Before 1850 it was antiabolitionists who were prone to use violence in Northern cities to break up antislavery meetings; afterwards the militancy was on the side of those, as in the notorious Anthony Burns case in Boston, who opposed slave catchers, even though the latter had the law on their side. Even Northerners who disdained antislavery agitation were driven to see slavery as an active threat to order and stability.

Keywords:   Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, Slave Power, Antislavery politics

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