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tough new fugitive slave law, insisting that the Supreme Court's ruling was a violation of their property rights. Their campaign for a new law eventually resulted in the controversial Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, part of the Compromise of 1850. This law gave Southerners sweeping new powers to retrieve escaped slaves and legally bound Northerners to help in those efforts.

By 1850, however, the Underground Railroad had already done a lot of damage to the Southern slavery system. It had enabled thousands of black people to escape to Canada or the free states of the Northern United

States. In addition, it provided invaluable assistance to the overall abolitionist movement. As runaway slaves made homes for themselves as free blacks, their descriptions of slavery and their inspiring stories of escape convinced countless white Northerners of the worthiness of the abolitionist cause. Given this state of affairs, passage of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act proved to be a hollow victory for the South. Catching escaped slaves remained a difficult task even after the law was passed, and the Act further increased Northern sympathy for blacks trapped in the Southern slave system.

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