previous next
[277] to overcome Northern repugnance to that measure, the rest of his ‘indescribably base and wicked speech,’ as1 Mr. Garrison termed it, was simply confirmatory of his depravation. His historical dust-cloud about the origin2 of slavery in America, and of its guarantees in the Constitution; his pretext, in regard to California and New Mexico, that their physical conditions debarred African slavery, and he “would not take pains to reaffirm an ordinance of Nature, nor to reenact the will of God” Lib. 20.43 cf. 21.93.; his offer to support a Government scheme of colonizing3 the free colored population of the South4—all was mere surplusage. It was his advocacy of the duty of slave-hunting which brought upon him the withering censure of Northern manhood, the hollow applause of the South, the immoral thanks of the trader and the doughface. When he rose in his place on March 7 to break the word of promise to the hope of his eager constituency, the Fugitive Slave Bill was even more objectionable than at5 the time of its final passage. Its unwarranted extension of the Federal judiciary placed the liberty of every alleged fugitive at the mercy of any commissioner, clerk, or6 marshal of a Federal court, or Federal postmaster, or collector of customs, in the State where the seizure was made. The ‘Expounder of the Constitution’ was prepared to support this iniquity ‘to the fullest extent,’7 along with Senator Mason's amendments of January 23,8 affixing, not only to the rescue of an alleged fugitive, but9 to the harboring or concealing of any such, a penalty of one thousand dollars fine and twelve months imprisonment (ultimately mitigated, as regards imprisonment, to10 a term not exceeding six months); and denying the

1 Lib. 20.43.

2 Lib. 20.42.

3 Lib. 20.46.

4 In the Boston Congregationalist of July 6, 1849 (Lib. 19.166), Lewis Tappan told of having acted as secretary of a colonization meeting held at the Marlboroa Hotel, Boston, in 1822, Webster presiding, and Judge Story introducing resolutions. This was followed by one to organize the Massachusetts Colonization Society, when a great division of sentiment was manifested over the constitution reported, and Webster at length declared: ‘It is a scheme of the slaveholders to get rid of the free negroes. I will have nothing to do with it’—and left the room.

5 Lib. 20.54.

6 Lib. 20.54; cf. ante, p. 246.

7 Lib. 20.45.

8 J. M. Mason.

9 Lib. 20.54.

10 Lib. 20.153.

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.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
California (California, United States) (1)

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.
W. L. G. Lib (10)
D. Webster (2)
J. M. Mason (2)
Lewis Tappan (1)
Story (1)
W. L. Garrison (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.
July 6th, 1849 AD (1)
1822 AD (1)
March 7th (1)
January 23rd (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: