The New York meeting proved to be ready not only to1
discuss disunion, but to adopt unanimously a resolution involving a modified form of it, in these words—“That the Constitution
of the Union
ought to be altered so as to prevent the national Government from sustaining slavery, as well as from requiring the people of the several States to sustain it.”
On the naked issue as presented by Mr. Garrison
in the Liberator
, the meeting showed a divergence of opinion.
The first resolution offered was in the negative:
Resolved, That inasmuch as the people of the Northern States have been guilty, jointly with the South, of enslaving men; and inasmuch as the people of the Northern States in general, nor even the mass of abolitionists, have ever petitioned for the abrogation of the slaveholding features of the Constitution, nor proved that such petitions, if supported by the free States, would be unsuccessful, therefore we see no reasonable ground, at this time, for asking for a dissolution of the Union.
A substitute, moved by Henry C. Wright
and seconded by Edmund Quincy
, read as follows:
Resolved, That the provisions of the United States Constitution in relation to slavery, and the history of our Government, which shows that free and slave institutions cannot exist distinct and independent under the same Constitution, both prove that fidelity to our principles as abolitionists, and to the cause of human rights, imperatively demands the dissolution of the American Union.
The long and animated debate which ensued, and in which we remark Wendell Phillips
and Abby Kelley
among the advocates of the Garrisonian doctrine, showed3
a decided majority in its favor, but no action was deemed advisable, and no vote was attempted.
Many of the participants returned to renew the discussion at the New England
Convention in Boston
Henry C. Wright