In mid-19th century America there was a caste of people who were professional slave hunters. Hold that thought… People whose job it was to reclaim the lost ‘property’ of a southern slave owner.
In 1850 the US Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act as part of the Compromise of 1850 between Southern slave-holding interests and Northern Free-Soilers (a short-lived political party which took part in the 1848 and 1852 presidential races with the sole aim of preventing slavery being expanded into the new western states).
The law required that all escaped slaves, upon capture, be returned to their masters and that officials and citizens of free states had to cooperate. Many northern states opposed the law and passed personal liberty laws which, in different ways, tried to block the act – by insisting that captured suspects get a fair trial, or by forbidding state authorities…
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