previous next
[501] Judge Sprague nor his brother lawyer, neither Mayor Otis declaiming nor Mayor Lyman presiding, and all paving the way for riot in the streets of Boston, bethought them of Judge Thacher's law of libel (as 1 applicable to their printed speeches and resolutions as to the Liberator)—‘Every publication which has a tendency to promote public mischief, whether by causing irritation in the minds of the people that may induce them to commit a breach of the public peace, . . . is a libel.’ Not one of them had, either then or to his dying day, the smallest scruple for having committed the genuine libel which consists in falsifying the character and purposes of others, and holding them up to general execration and abuse.

But this sort of libel was the natural utterance of every ‘respectable’ Whig Bostonian when alluding to the abolitionists. Take, for example, that future ornament of the Supreme Court, Benjamin Robbins Curtis, who wrote to Mr. George Ticknor, then abroad, under date of August 23, 1835:

The topic which engrosses the public attention, to the2 exclusion of almost every other, is the “Anti-slavery Society.” You will see by the newspapers, which I suppose you receive, that a great meeting has been held at Faneuil Hall on this subject. It was caused by the excitement which exists through all the slaveholding States, in consequence of the efforts of that Society to excite the slaves to insurrection. Dreadful scenes have already occurred in Mississippi. The mob have hung numerous persons, suspected of being emissaries of the Society, without legal trial; and so great have been the commotions excited in many parts of the South, and so excited is the public mind there, that there are strong fears felt here by the friends of the Union that, unless something is done here to check the abolitionists, and convince the South that the great body of the people of the Northern States are unfavorable to the Society, the Union will not continue for a single year. All

1 Ante, p. 310.

2 Memoir of B. R. Curtis, 1.72.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Benjamin Robbins Curtis (2)
George Ticknor (1)
Moses Thacher (1)
Peleg Sprague (1)
James Otis (1)
Theodore Lyman (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
August 23rd, 1835 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: