The New England Convention was the best one we ever2 had — the fullest attendance, the most spirited debates, the most new faces among the members (the fruits of our spring conventions), and the most thorough action. The question of3 the duty of withdrawing from the support of the U. S. Government on account of its pro-slavery character, and of making the dissolution of the Union our main measure, was the question of the Convention. The debates were very fine. That is, Garrison and Phillips did admirably, C. C. Burleigh very well indeed, on the one side, and Pierpont, Amasa Walker, Hildreth4 ( “Archy Moore” 5) did all that could be done on the other. But in fact there was but one side. The arguments in favor of acting under the existing Government, or, rather, the casuistry by which swearing to do wicked things which at the time you don't mean to do was justified, were enough to convince any reasonable person of the truth of what they opposed. Pierpont's speech was the most extraordinary piece of Jesuitism that I ever heard. The world's people among the audience were shocked at it. An old president of a bank, no abolitionist, who was in from curiosity, told me that the business of the world could not go on for a day on his [Pierpont's] principles, if fairly carried out; that they struck at the root of all human society, and would destroy all confidence of man in man. And yet this is the only process by which he [Pierpont] can reconcile his support of the Liberty Party with morality. The vote surprised us all. At one time we thought it might not pass. Latterly we thought it would be carried by a small majority. But when the roll was called, it seemed as if there were no ‘nays’ at all, they came dropping in at such distant intervals. The vote stood 250 to 24. This was on the last day6 of the Convention, when very many had been obliged to go home, or the vote would have been much larger in favor of the resolutions. But those that remained were la creme de la creme of the New England Abolitionists, and stood for the very bone and muscle of the cause.
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2 Ms. June 14, 1844.
3 Ante, p. 97.
5 The first anti-slavery novel, by the future historian of the United States; the sub-title being ‘The White Slave.’ It was published towards the close of 1836, and had a powerful effect (Lib. 7: 35, 56.) Lacking the prepared soil on which Uncle Tom's Cabin fell, it failed of the vogue which its fine literary qualities merited; yet in 1846 had reached a sixth edition (Lib. 16.94).
6 May 31, 1844.
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