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During the month of January the people of the free States, outside of the Free Soilers, hardly realized the nature of the issue; but February had not advanced far before the alarm and indignation were general.1 Nowhere did the feeling become more intense and pervasive than in Massachusetts. The Whig journals, allied to the commercial interest, though reserved in any discussion of the evils and wrong of slavery itself, contended in elaborate and earnest articles that the Nebraska bill was a breach of faith, and that the Compromise of 1850, instead of superseding, as Douglas pretended, only strengthened and affirmed the Missouri prohibition.2

The Free Soilers were the first to realize the exigency, and the earliest to organize formal protests. Having first sought, without success, to have Mr. Abbott Lawrence and Whig members of the Legislature take the lead,3 they called a State convention to meet at Faneuil Hall February 16; but though open to all, only Free Soilers took part in its proceedings. The speakers were Wilson, Burlingame, and Theodore Parker. A letter from Sumner was read. The mention of his name, according to the report, ‘was greeted with deafening applause.’ Wilson, referring to Everett's unsatisfactory speech, said that Massachusetts had not yet spoken in the Senate, but that Sumner would utter her voice. Mr. Adams, who had been a witness of the debates in Congress in 1820 on the Missouri Compromise, sent a letter to the convention, in which he explained fully the issue, addressed a meeting the next day for the Congressional district at Dedham, and shortly after contributed to the press a well considered paper advising as to methods of resistance.4 The Legislature, then in session, by a vote unanimous in the Senate and with only few dissents in the House, recorded the protest of the State against the measure. A large number of the towns—one-half of them, it was estimated—at the spring

1 The first important popular protest came from a meeting of the business men of New York, January 30, most of whom had supported the Compromise of 1850, held in the Broadway Tabernacle. Among the letters read at the meeting was one from Sumner. Another large meeting was held at the same place March 14, which was addressed by John A. King, Robert Emmett, William Curtis Noves, and William C. Bryant.

2 The ‘Advertiser’ and ‘Journal’ had supported the Compromise of 1850, while the ‘Atlas’ opposed it, though subsequently acquiescing. The ‘Advertiser's’ articles against the Nebraska bill were the most elaborate. The ‘Courier's’ opposition was from first to last only perfunctory.

3 Commonwealth, February 14.

4 Commonwealth, February 20, March 7; New York Evening Post, March 4.

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