Identify the argument about the power of the federal government and state government in regard to the conflict over the fugitive slave act.

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As part of the Compromise of 1850, the federal government of the United States passed the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. This new law required the United States government to assist in the capture of escaped slaves, which had previously only been the right and responsibility of the slaveowner. This new law also placed tougher punishments on anybody who attempted to assist or hide an escaped slave, oftentimes people in northern states where slavery had been banned. This was done as an attempt to stop northern states from refusing to follow or enforce the Fugitive Slave Law.

As a result of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, many anti-slavery northerners felt that they were being forced to participate in slavery and strengthen the institution with which they disagreed. Many anti-slavery northerners also felt that this was an unfair and unconstitutional expansion of federal government power and a violation of a state's right to determine the status of slavery within its territory. Many pro-slavery southerners, however, supported the new Fugitive Slave Law and argued that it was justly put into place to enforce part of article 4 of the Constitution, which stated that escaped slaves were to be returned to their slaveowners.

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