When the [Fugitive Slave] law passed, I did think the moral2 sense of the community would not enforce it; I said that it3 never would be. But now I find that my fellow-citizens are not only submissive to, but that they are earnestly active for, its enforcement. The Boston of 1851 is not the Boston of 1775. Boston has now become a mere shop—a place for buying and selling goods; and I suppose, also, of buying and selling men.4Where, in such a time as this, should the American Anti-Slavery Society hold its anniversary? Thompson's triumphant tour through Central New York had given the surest indication. He had had great audiences at5 Rochester, the curiosity to see him being enhanced by the abuse of a portion of the press, and vain efforts to arouse the mob spirit. At Syracuse, five slaves appeared with him upon the platform. At Peterboroa, Gerrit Smith6 gave him the warmest welcome, which in an advertising placard he also extended to ‘William Lloyd Garrison, the most distinguished and meritorious of American abolitionists’—then anticipating his presence. Abby
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1 The N. Y. Herald estimated that the capture, trial, and return of Sims cost the Federal Government nearly $6000, and his owner half as much (Lib. 22: 77). The sum of $90,000 inserted in the Deficiency Bill by the Senate of the 31st Congress (session 1851-52) for ‘Judicial Expenses’ was ascribed to the execution of the Fugitive Slave Law.
3 Ante, p. 303.
4 Sims was carried off on Saturday, April 12, 1851 (Lib. 21: 62), a week before the anniversary of the battle of Lexington. This latter ancestral date Theodore Parker affixed to a poster which he sent on the next Sunday night to his parishioner and fellow-member of the Vigilance Committee, Francis Jackson, recommending it to be ‘printed privately at the Anti-Slavery Office’ and ‘put up to-morrow night, so that nobody shall know who did it’ (Ms.). The Ms. draft reads: ‘Caution! Colored people of Boston, one and all: You are hereby respectfully cautioned and advised to avoid conversing with the Watchmen and Police Officers of Boston. For since the recent order of the Mayor and Aldermen, they are empowered to act as kidnappers and Slave Catchers. And they have already been actually employed in kidnapping, Catching, and keep-Ing slaves. Therefore, if you value your Liberty and the welfare of the fugitives among you, shun them in every possible manner as so many hounds on the track of the most unfortunate of your race. Keep A Sharp lookout for kidnappers, and have a Top eye open.—April 19th, 1851.’
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