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Why Were Slave Pens Allowed to Exist in America’s Capital?

The buying-and-selling of people occurred near the U.S. Capitol Building, the place where U.S. legislators debated and passed laws impacting enslaved people.  

Do you think that fact influenced, or did not influence, nineteenth-century American lawmakers who enacted laws such as the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act?  

If legislators routinely saw Washington City slave pens, making them directly aware of the impact of slavery on people, what may have caused them to become hardened to the plight of such individuals?


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