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[353] however, was impending, the most portentous in our history, for which he had no heart. As a member of Congress at an early period, and as governor of Massachusetts, he had spoken of slavery and its opponents in a tone below even the Northern sentiment of the period; and he had supported the Compromise of 1850, giving his full countenance to all Webster had said and done in its behalf. As far as he could see, when the session began the dread question was settled for a generation, and certainly he had no thought that he was at once to be required to take part in the greatest and last struggle of the slave-power for supremacy in the government. It was a contest indeed for which neither his temperament nor his career fitted him.

As a member of the committee on territories, Mr. Everett made no written dissent against Douglas's report, nor did he signify at the time it was submitted, by any personal explanation, that he objected to it.1 It does not appear that his convictions were then against it. He maintained cordial relations with its author during the whole controversy. Three days after the report was made Douglas gave a dinner, at which, as guests, he placed Everett on his right, and Dawson of Georgia, a Whig supporter of the measure, on his left. Another guest, General Wool, gave a toast to the two Whig senators as the Whig candidates for President and Vice-President in 1856.2 Mr. Everett appears for some weeks to have been uncertain as to what course he should take; and he sought from friends at home, who shared his confidence, ‘information as to the light in which it [the bill] would be regarded in Massachusetts by the judicious part of the community.’ After noting in a letter of January 10 the action of the previous Congress, and the form in which the bill had been reported, he mentioned only as his objection to it that it ‘would evidently bring up a discussion of the whole subject of slavery,—a circumstance greatly to be deplored.’3 The answers he received were explicit in advising resistance to the measure.4

1 If he made an objection in committee it was a mild one, and he was careful not to give it publicity. Seward wrote, January 4: ‘Everett was on the Douglas committee, and says he objected. I would not have been allowed to be there.’ (Seward's ‘Life,’ vol. II. p. 216.) Everett first signified in the Senate his opposition, February 7.

2 New York Tribune, Jan. 9, 1854.

3 Mr. Everett's doubtful position at first, and his request for advice, were stated publicly at the time. ‘Commonwealth,’ February 15; April 6.

4 Governor Clifford replied, January 20, in a manly letter, in which he said: ‘My own judgment is clearly fixed and settled, independent of any effect it may have upon our existing political organizations, that the moral element involved in this question is too serious to be made any further or any longer subordinate to the political exigencies arising out of it.’ Choate's answer is given in his ‘Life,’ by Brown (p. 291), in which, while recommending opposition to the bill, he expressed solicitude lest Mr. Everett should be drawn into ‘a position which would impair his large prospects,’—an allusion to the latter's candidacy for the Presidency. Everett, it may be mentioned, sent no reply to the invitation to address the first anti-Nebraska meeting held in Broadway Tabernacle, January 30.

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