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[496] the South of a pretext for disunion, furnished the staple of the bill of fare upon which Richard Fletcher,1 Peleg Sprague, and Harrison Gray Otis were presently to enlarge.

Peleg Sprague, a native of Massachusetts, a graduate2 of Harvard College, a distinguished lawyer, a member of the lower House of Congress for four years, just retired3 from a six years term in the Senate, where he 4 represented the State of Maine, and now come to Boston to resume the practice of his profession, was an ideal mouthpiece of Northern respectability. If his discourse was heated and malevolent towards the abolitionists, the feelings of the populace could safely be inferred by the South. He did, in fact, assert that their language and5 measures clearly tended to insurrection and violence; that if their sentiments prevailed, it would be all over with the Union, which would give place to two hostile confederacies, with forts and standing armies. As to their doctrine that there was a higher law than the Constitution, and something above the Union,—that no law sanctioning slavery could have any moral obligation, and that slaveholders were detestable and abhorrent and the North should have no communion with them—‘Time was,’ he exclaimed,

when such sentiments and such language would not have been breathed in this community; and here, on this hallowed spot, of all the places on earth, should they be met and rebuked.

Time was, when . . . the generous and gallant 6 Southrons came to our aid, and our fathers refused not to hold communion with slaveholders.7. . . . When he, that slaveholder

1 An eminent lawyer, a native of Vermont, who came to Boston in 1825. He did not long remain in the ranks of repression. In 1838 he was ready to have Congress abolish slavery in the District and the inter-State slave trade, and to exclude new slave States from the Union (Lib. 8.179). As a member of the House of Representatives in the 25th Congress (1837-39), he supported Mr. Giddings in agitating for the first-named end (Buell's Joshua R. Giddings, p. 91).

2 1812.

3 1825-29.

4 1829-35.

5 Lib. 5.141.

6 Lib. 5.141.

7 Very naturally, as they were slaveholders themselves.

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