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Fugitive Slave Act

A law passed as part of the Compromise of 1850, which provided southern slaveholders with legal weapons to capture slaves who had escaped to the free states. The law was highly unpopular in the North and helped to convert many previously indifferent northerners to antislavery.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.