Compromise of 1850 Timelines: The Catto Years

Debate on the future of slavery in the territories escalates when Henry Clay introduces the Compromise of 1850 to the U.S. Congress. It culminates with the passage of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law, limiting legal rights of escaped slaves and imposing penalties on anyone aiding a fugitive. Any person aiding a runaway slave, by providing food or shelter, was subject to six months’ imprisonment and a $1,000 fine. Abolitionists called this new federal law the “Bloodhound Law”, refering the to use of dogs to track down fugitives. The compromise briefly defused some tensions between slave and free states and abolished the slave trade in Washington, D.C.