American History (Parsippany, NJ: Globe Fearon, 2003), 386.
One part of the Compromise of 1850 was the Fugitive Slave Law. The law required Northerners to help capture escaped slaves and return them to slaveholders in the South. People who broke the law could receive a six-month jail term and a $1,000 fine. Before the Fugitive Slave Law went into effect, an enslaved person might escape to freedom along the Underground Railroad to free states. Now, there would be no escaping to safety anywhere in the United States. Even free African Americans might be rounded up in error and sent to slaveholders. If captured, African Americans were not even allowed to tell their story to a jury. Many Northerners were upset about the law. It forced them to be part of the slave system even though they did not support it. In response, riots broke out in several northern cities.