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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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Revival of the Fugitive Slave Issue, 1858–61

Revival of the Fugitive Slave Issue, 1858–61

(p.147) 7 Revival of the Fugitive Slave Issue, 1858–61
On the Edge of Freedom

David G. Smith

Fordham University Press

This chapter shows the rise of a race-based opposition to antislavery in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. The catalyzing factor appears to have been John Fremont's candidacy for President as a Republican in 1856. Such tactics only intensified after the Dred Scott decision and during Lincoln's 1860 candidacy. As soon as Lincoln was elected, in a maneuver that appears pre-orchestrated, Democrats in Philadelphia started a petition and publicity campaign centered on removing barriers to the rendition of fugitive slaves by repealing Pennsylvania's personal liberty laws. Over 100 petitions on the crisis and Pennsylvania's fugitive slave laws poured into the legislature during the secession winter. Surprisingly, no petitions to keep protections for fugitive slaves came from south central Pennsylvania, although there is evidence that some residents petitioned Congress in that vein. There was a kidnapping attempt on a Gettysburg local, Mag Palm.

Keywords:   Dred Scott, Mag Palm, Philadelphia, Fremont, Lincoln, personal liberty law, secession winter

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