1987 AP United States History DBQ

"By the 1850's the Constitution, originally framed as an instrument of national unity, had become a source of sectional discord and tension and ultimately contributed to the failure of the union it had created . Because of the lack of information in the Constitution, the United States lost its sense of unity. The Constitution contributed to the failure of the union it created by lacking information on slavery and secession.

Slavery was a major issue that the states could not agree on. When the issue of slavery came up, the North had a completely different opinion than the South. They were unable to refer to the Constitution for the answer because it lacked that information. With the Compromise of 1850, the fugitive slave law was more strictly enforced. A reason for this was that many slaveholders were losing money due to runaways. They also felt it was unfair for northerners to help slaves reach freedom, while those slaves belonged to them. Ralph Waldo Emerson, a Northerner, said that if an immoral law is made then it is a man's job to break it. Many Northerners felt that the fugitive slave law was kidnapping, and is therefore immoral. Emerson said, "As soon as the Constitution ordains an immoral law, it ordains disunion.  (Doc. D)

Few Northerners felt that the people around them, mainly Douglas and Pierce, were forcing them to believe that slavery was right and therefore forcing them to use slaves in one way or another. (Doc. F) Bostonians tried to get around the fugitive slave law by warning the colored slaves that watchmen and police officers were acting as slave catchers and kidnappers. They even went as far as putting up signs to warn runaway slaves about being caught. They knew that they would be punished if someone caught them helping a runaway or even a free black so they put up signs to tell people that they felt slavery was wrong. These signs were their way of showing the

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