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Many issues divided the nation before the Civil War. One in particular involved the passage of Personal Liberty laws in the northern states, which circumscribed the conduct of officials handling fugitive slaves. While Maine was not a prominent destination for runaway slaves, its Personal Liberty laws, redrafted in 1857 by the state's new Republican majority, were particularly forceful and therefore particularly odious to Southern planters. As the secession crisis loomed, Maine reconsidered the constitutionality of the laws and their political expediency: Would the state bend to the needs of national reconciliation? Mr. Desmond, born in Island Falls, Maine, received M.A. degrees in education (1979) and History (1991) from the University of Maine and taught for twelve years in Maine public schools. He has published several articles (New England Quarterly, Tennessee Historical Quarterly, Chattanooga Regional Historical Journal), and a book: Images Of America: Chattanooga. A resident of Lookout Mountain, Georgia he is currently employed as Curator of Collections for the Chattanooga Regional History Museum.