The United States has a history of resistance efforts, from the Civil Rights era to antiwar, and anti-prohibition efforts -- and everything in between. But arguably, none was more heroic than the abolitionist movement in the m id-19th century.
We have much to learn from those courageous abolitionists. They risked their own freedom, and sometimes their very lives, to protect the rights of black people. In fact, they offer us a blueprint to resist attacks on our rights like the ones coming from the NSA.
THE FUGITIVE SLAVE ACT
The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 counts among the most disgusting acts ever passed by Congress. This so-called law denied a black person accused of escaping slavery any semblance of due process. A white man could basically drag a black man or woman south into slavery on the power of his word. All he had to do was swear out a writ before a judge and get a "certificate of removal." The accused couldn't even offer testimony or evidence in his own defense. There was even a financial incentive. Appointed slave commissioners got $10 for returning a slave south, but only $5 if they determined the accused was actually a freeman.
The Fugitive Slave Act also made it illegal to assist an accused runaway slave. A simple act of kindness like giving a woman and her children some bread and water was a federal crime punished by fine and imprisonment. Every conductor on the Underground Railroad was subject to arrest.
Even more oppressive, a provision of the act allowed federal marshals to forcibly deputize citizens to track down runaways. There was no out for conscientious objectors. If called upon, you were legally required to act as a slave catcher.
Northern abolitionists embarked on a multi-state, multi-year campaign to resist fugitive-slave acts.