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"Legislature- slave hunting petition"
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The Compromise of 1850 was intended to solve a great debate caused by victory in the Mexican War (1844-48). In the Peace of Guadelupe Hidalgo, the United States annexed nearly half of Mexico. Abolitionists argued that these new territories should be made, by Congressional mandate, entirely free of slaves; the southern states, on the other hand, pressed for all of them to be able to choose whether to be slave or free. The political rhetoric hardened and the United States seemed to be about to break up. The Compromise of 1850 allowed for the territories to choose their status and in addition it included a harsh new Fugitive Slave Law. The law demanded that all citizens assist in the recovery of escaped slaves and placed heavy penalties on any who helped slaves escape. Further, any suspected slave could be arrested solely on the word of a slaveowner. This placed all African-Americans at risk, since they too could be held without any due process. The law enraged many communities in the north, especially after several notorious slave-hunting incidents in northern communities like Boston. Many communities passed resolutions pledging civil disobedience in the face of what they saw as an illegal and immoral law.
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