for the Fugitive Slave
law in 1850, he suffered no reproach or loss of support from the mass of his party in the city; and the willing agents in its execution lost no favor, social or political.
wrote at this time, Sept. 15, 1850, in his diary:—
The day has been blackened to me by reading of the passage of the Fugitive Slave bill in the House, Eliot of Boston voting for it. This is a dark disgrace to the city.
If we should read in Dino Compagni that in the tenth century a citizen of Florence had given such a vote, we should see what an action he had done.
But this the people of Boston cannot see in themselves; they will uphold it.
Social pressure was freely brought to bear to enforce conformity in politics and arrest tendencies to radicalism, or to opinions or conduct which were contrary to the conventional standard.
Men of courage who pushed moral principles into politics were stigmatized as fanatics and demagogues.
A Frenchman visiting Boston
in 1851 found that the mention of Sumner
's name in social life made certain people shiver (frissonner
), because he was a Free Soiler, and suspected of abolitionism, though otherwise nothing ill was said of him.1
Later pages will show how this intolerant spirit went so far as to call for the withdrawal of patronage from offenders who were dependent on their earnings for the means to support their families.
There is a passage in a letter from Ticknor
relating to the prison-discipline debates, of which, though curtailed in the printing, enough remains to show that the former justified social exclusion as a penalty for holding unsound opinions and a means of enforcing conformity.
The passage, doubtless referring to Sumner
, is as follows:—
I am sorry as you are for the effect these discussions produce upon society in Boston; but the principles of that society are right, and its severity towards disorganizers and social democracy in all its forms is just and wise.
It keeps our standard of public morals where it should be, and where you and I claim to have it, and is the circumstance which distinguishes us favorably from New York land the other large cities of the Union, where demagogues are permitted to rule by the weak tolerance of men who know better, and are stronger than they are. In a society where public opinion governs, unsound opinions must be rebuked; and you can no more do that while you treat their apostles with