Lead: One hundred and fifty years ago the Republic was facing its greatest crisis. This continuing series examines the American Civil War. It is "A House Divided."

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The Constitution was clear. Slavery was a permitted and permanent fixture in American life. According to Article IV, escaped slaves even had to be delivered up for their owners. As each decade passed the South demanded and Congress delivered ever increasingly effective fugitive slave laws. Those opposed to slavery suspected, with some justification, that those in pursuit were none too scrupulous about correct identification of slaves, often grabbing free blacks instead or even bothering always to bring them before northern local courts to press their claims. In a reversal of the normal regional preference for federal intervention, Northern states began to resist the work of slave catchers and their federal enablers, passing personal liberty laws. These laws gave escaped slaves legal rights and set up barriers to prevent easy capture and return.

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