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[364] meetings held for municipal purposes revived the custom of the Revolutionary period long since fallen into disuse, and after a discussion upon an article inserted in the warrant for the purpose, declared the solemn conviction of the people, with only here and there a stray vote in the negative, that the repeal of the Missouri prohibition was a perfidious and wicked act.1 Public meetings, thronged by citizens irrespective of party, were held in sparsely settled districts as well as populous towns. The pulpit diverged from customary topics, and by concert on Sunday, March 5, summoned the people, as a moral and religious duty, to resist the great wrong. The clergy in their conferences and the religious press echoed the appeal. Remonstrances were everywhere signed by thousands, hardly any but the officials of the national administration withholding their names.2 Business was well—nigh suspended in the absorbing agitation. At firesides, in shops, and on the street men and women talked of little else than the impending outrage at Washington. Only in the Civil War has there ever been such unity among the people. Some there were who fell back from the enthusiasm and high resolves of this hour; but now Massachusetts from the ocean to her most western hill stood as one man for the sacred cause.

In Boston there was a demonstration, February 23, perhaps the most notable in all her history. The mercantile Whigs, keeping aloof from the antislavery men, met in Faneuil Hall, which was filled in every part. The chairman was Samuel A. Eliot, already familiar to these pages. On the platform, in conspicuous seats, were the merchants and lawyers who were original supporters of the Compromise of 1850, or afterwards joined in condemning the agitation for its repeal. The principal orators, Hillard and Stevenson, spoke like men who had been duped by the slaveholding interest, and yet were loath to own it. They had paid, as they hinted, too high a price for what they surrendered four years before,—a confession to which thousands before them gave audible assent.3 The temper of the multitude present

1 For illustration, only two negative votes were given in Concord and Stoughton; while in Bridgewater, Dedham, Westboroa, South Reading, Fitchburg, and Northampton there was no dissent.

2 One of the earliest remonstrances was from Andover, with eleven hundred names, including the eminent theologians of the Seminary.

3 The ‘Advertiser,’ May 29, said that the supporters of the Compromise of 1850 were entirely disgusted and disheartened. the ‘Atlas,’ in an early protest against the bill, February 21, wrote that its passage would ‘justify all that the Free Soil party have been saying for the past four years.’

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