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On the Edge of FreedomThe Fugitive Slave Issue in South Central Pennsylvania, 1820–1870$
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David G. Smith

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780823240326

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823240326.001.0001

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Interlude: Kidnapping, Kansas, and the Rise of Race-Based Partisanship

Interlude: Kidnapping, Kansas, and the Rise of Race-Based Partisanship

(p.140) 6 Interlude: Kidnapping, Kansas, and the Rise of Race-Based Partisanship
On the Edge of Freedom

David G. Smith

Fordham University Press

This brief chapter examines the eclipse of the fugitive slave issue in border Pennsylvania, at least in the public sphere. After antislavery activists tried to recover momentum after Christiana by emphasizing kidnapping cases, the rise of other issues such as nativism (whose political instantiation was the American Party, called the Know-Nothings) and Kansas eclipsed the fugitive slave issue. The Kansas issue in particular allowed many aspects of the fugitive slave issue, such as the right to free discussion, to be recast in ways that could seem to affect a majority of white people rather than the minority interested in antislavery. This decline in the fugitive slave issue is seen in the newspaper coverage of the time.

Keywords:   kidnapping, nativism, American party, Know Nothings, Kansas, Kansas-Nebraska act, free discussion

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