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[Detail] Millions of acres, Iowa and Nebraska, 1872

Historical Issues-Analysis and Decision-Making: Slavery

Slavery was obviously a controversial issue from the founding of the republic. Examine the issue of slavery using documents in the collection. For example, read the Virginia statute of 1821 on the emancipation of slaves and the restrictions placed on free Blacks living in the commonwealth. Locate some of the numerous broadsides offering rewards for the return of runaway slaves. Examine the text of the Fugitive Slave Act signed by President Millard Fillmore, September 18, 1850, and printed in a Hartford, Connecticut newspaper along with a negative appraisal of the legislation. Find other documents in the collection about the Fugitive Slave Act.

  • In 1821, what course of action did Virginia take regarding the emancipation of slaves?
  • What major slave revolt took place in Virginia after 1821? How did this uprising against slavery change policies regulating the emancipation of slaves?
  • Why was there such intense opposition in the North to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850?
  • What course of action did abolitionists take in opposing the Fugitive Slave Act?
  • To what extent did the enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act fuel sectionalism?