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[466] stitutionality of the unmutilated Personal Liberty Law could be defended at every point as a simple throwing of the whole burden of slave-catching on the Federal Government—the Constitution being silent as to the agents in this matter—the position which the State was now asked to take was incontestably opposed to ‘the compact.’ “That no person who has been held as a slave, shall be delivered up by any officer or court, State or Federal, within this Commonwealth, to any one claiming him on the ground that he owes ‘service or labor’ to such claimant, by the laws of one of the slave States of this Union” Lib. 28.98. —was clearly at odds with the Constitutional injunction1 ‘shall be delivered up.’ Nevertheless, the abolitionists could appeal on their own behalf to so high an authority2 as John Quincy Adams. That statesman, objecting to the Constitution of Missouri (pending her admission to the Union) that it disfranchised all the people of color who were citizens of the free States, and was thus ‘directly repugnant to the rights reserved to every citizen in the Union’ under the Federal Constitution, justified a declaratory act by any free-State legislature, making the citizens of Missouri aliens as long as the obnoxious article was maintained. Moreover, he had the courage to say that Congress, by admitting Missouri with such an article, made a breach in the Federal Constitution that would warrant a still more revolutionary proceeding:

Therefore, until that portion of the citizens of Massachusetts3 whose rights were violated by the article in the Missouri Compromise, should be redintegrated in the full enjoyment and possession of those rights, no clause or article of the Constitution of the United States should, within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, be so understood as to authorize any person whatsoever to claim the property or possession of a human being as a slave; and he would prohibit by law the delivery of any fugitive upon the claim of his master. All which, he said, should be done, not to violate, but to redeem from violation, the Constitution of the United States. It was, indeed, to be expected that such laws would again be met by retaliatory laws of Missouri and the other slaveholding States, and the consequences would be a dissolution de facto of the Union; but

1 Art. 4,??? 2,??? 3.

2 Lib. 28.170.

3 J. Quincy's Life of J. Q. Adams, p. 113; Lib. 28.170.

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