ernor of Massachusetts
his commission as justice of the peace, regretting he had ever taken the oath to support the Constitution of the United States
involved in the office, and giving public notice that he would never obey the Constitutional provision for the return of fugitive slaves.
‘To me,’ concluded his letter,
it appears that the virus of1 slavery, introduced into the Constitution of our body politic by a few slight punctures, has now so pervaded and poisoned the whole system of our National Government that literally there is no health in it. The only remedy that I can see for the disease is to be found in the dissolution of the patient.
The Constitution of the United States, both in theory and practice, is so utterly broken down by the influence and effects of slavery, so imbecile for the highest good of the nation, and so powerful for evil, that I can give no voluntary assistance in holding it up any longer.
Henceforth it is dead to me, and I to it. I withdraw all profession of allegiance to it, and all my voluntary efforts to sustain it. The burdens that it lays upon me, while it is held up by others, I shall endeavor to bear patiently, yet acting with reference to a higher law, and distinctly declaring that, while I retain my own liberty, I will be a party to no compact which helps to rob any other man of his.
also edited, in the Liberator
, the extracts2
from the Madison Papers
, and from the debates in the State Conventions
called to adopt the Constitution
, which made the pro-slavery nature of that compact too clear for serious discussion.
, in the Standard
ably defended the non-voting theory.
, on his part, met the current objections to disunion from the side of the Liberty Party
, not without a manly disgust at the casuistry relied upon by his opponents, who (like Gerrit Smith
) in one breath maintained that slavery had4
no lodgment in the Constitution
, and proposed to amend it into an anti-slavery document:
We have a very poor opinion of the intelligence of any5 man, and very great distrust of his candor or honesty, who tries to make it appear that no pro-slavery compromise was