There was no straight line from a racist society to one that supported full equality, and there was no guarantee that a right established one year could not be changed the next. That rang true in the United States and particularly in New England following the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law. This chapter analyzes the four most important fugitive slave cases of the region: William and Ellen Craft, Frederick Minkins, Thomas Sims, and Anthony Burns. The result of those cases—two successful, two not—was a change in New England. Antislavery became socially acceptable, and there was an increased willingness among white New Englanders to accept the equal rights of African Americans. But racism hadn't died. What was different were attitudes about New England and about the slave South. In the short term black New Englanders benefited, but there were limits to progress.
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