Fugitive slaves after seceding

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    Didn’t the slaveholding states nullify the Fugitive Slave Act by seceding? During the 1850s many northern states effectively nullified it but some slaves (i.e. more than 0%) were still returned before 1861 right?

    I know Lincoln continued to enforce the FSA in some instances during the war, but the hope of the South was to become a separate and independent nation, after which time neither the Northern states nor D.C. would have any duty to them.

    Surely even the fire-eaters must have known that the amount of slaves returned would drop from greater than zero to exactly zero (and if anything the amount of slaves escaping North would increase). Yet they seceded anyway, apparently content with having their own version of a fugitive slave law within the Confederacy.

    I know this is inference on my part, so do you know of any sources showing the southerners discussing this? Did any southern unionists, or conditional unionists, point this out and did the secessionists respond saying “we don’t care?”


    Not just “We don’t care”: abolitionists like W.L. Garrison had promoted nothern secession partly on the ground that fugitive slaves would no longer be returned, thus slavery would fail.

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