to join, on the ground that the local Societies could do the work as well for the time being, and that the great objection to Anti-slavery societies was that they aimed at unconstitutional interference with slavery.
He suggested that if a National Society was to be formed, it should show, by its constitution, that the objects were legal
, that is to say, it should acknowledge the exclusive rights of the Southern States
to settle the matter of slavery within their own boundaries, and claim only the right to urge Congress to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, and the territories.
The new Society did, in fact, adopt carefully drawn provisions expressive of Jay
's idea, and Mr. Tuckerman
, in his memoir of Jay
, comments upon the circumstance as follows: “Looked at by the light of subsequent events, the importance of placing Anti-slavery upon a Constitutional basis cannot be over-rated.
Upon the principles thus distinctly avowed rested the moral and political strength of the movement during the struggle of thirty years.”
It is impossible not to feel the truth of this reflection.
The average American mind could only deal with the slavery matter when presented in legal form.
, in spite of