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The short-sighted framers of the Fugitive Slave Law had good reasons for not anticipating the revolt which it actually caused among the clergy, limited and partial as this was.1 For instance, the chances were that the Unitarian Convention at Springfield, Mass., in the fall of2 1850, would reject resolutions denouncing the law. In fact, John Pierpont having presented such, Dr. Parkman3 gave as chairman a casting vote to lay them on the table, though avowing his willingness to harbor fugitives. Dr. Gannett deprecated discussion and all action, as being4 liable to be misunderstood. Nevertheless, the resolutions were called up and passed, and other religious conventions5 took a similar stand, and the new phase of the old moral issue began again the work of dividing the denominations and plunging the pulpit into ‘politics.’ If an Orville Dewey stood up in the lyceum to urge the duty of6 obeying the Fugitive Slave Law, a Peter Lesley in his sermons set Deuteronomy 23 over against Romans 13; a Theodore7 Parker discoursed on “The Function and Place of Conscience in relation to the Laws of Men.” Lib. 20.175.

On the eve of the November elections, into which the Fugitive Slave Law imported a new criterion and unwonted intensity of feeling; on the eve, too, of a fresh8 outbreak of Union-saving meetings, George Thompson revisited the country which had expelled him in 1835.9 He landed in Boston, the port of his covert and hasty Departure—the scene of the mob evoked against him10 only to fall upon the devoted head of his friend the11 editor of the Liberator—; the scene of the antecedent Union-saving meeting in Faneuil Hall, at which he was publicly held up as a foreign emissary, hurling firebrands,12 arrows, and death. The first Liberator he opened declared the whole country in commotion on the subject of slavery,13 and every page bore witness to the truth of the assertion. Webster was encouraging the ‘commercial interests of14 the great metropolis of the country [to] speak with united ’

1 See a list of ‘higher-law’ sermons, mostly preached in Massachusetts, in Lib. 21: 46.

2 Lib. 20.178.

3 Rev. Francis Parkman.

4 Rev. E. S. Gannett.

5 Lib. 20.166, 178.

6 Lib. 20.205; 21.2, 29, 36; 22.37.

7 Lib. 20.174.

8 Lib. 20.177, 195, 197, 201.

9 Oct. 29, 1850; Lib. 20.174.

10 Ante, 2.50.

11 Ante, 2.1.

12 Ante, 1.497.

13 Lib. 20.175.

14 Lib. 20.177.

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