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[366] his appearance in any public meeting was the signal of applause more general and hearty than was accorded to any other speaker. He was at the time tireless in pressing and organizing the agitation, and made a laborious canvass in the first State election which followed the introduction of the Nebraska bill,—the election in New Hampshire, the President's own State, in which the Administration was defeated.1

A most interesting incident of the contest in Congress occurred March 14, when Everett presented the remonstrance from three thousand and fifty clergymen of all denominations and sects in New England, solemnly protesting, ‘in the name of Almighty God, and in his presence,’ against the passage of the Nebraska bill, as ‘a great moral wrong, ... a breach of faith eminently unjust to the moral principles of the community, . . . a measure full of danger to the Union, and exposing us to the righteous judgments of the Almighty.’2 An organized protest of the clergy against a political measure was an extraordinary procedure; but this one showed how solid against the repeal had become the public opinion of New England.

In order to avoid the imputation that the petition was an abolition manifesto, it was arranged in Boston that it should be offered by William Appleton, the member for the city, in the House, and by Everett in the Senate.3 Rev. Henry M. Dexter took the scroll, two hundred feet in length, to Washington; and arriving early on March 14, called at once on Sumner, who was in full sympathy with his errand. the two sought Everett at his house, but he was not in. They went later to the Capitol, and there found Appleton, who received them cordially. He offered

1 The statement of the condition of public sentiment at the time, and the narrative generally have been materially aided by private letters of the period which have been accessible to the writer.

2 The idea of the petition originated in an interview between Mrs. Harriet B. Stowe and Rev. H. M. Dexter, the former assuming the expense, and the latter undertaking the executive detail. Mr. Dexter, having made a draft of the prayer, submitted it to a meeting of Congregational ministers held in the Old South Chapel in Boston. Rev. Nehemiah Adams, with the approval of Rev. George Blagden, proposed and interlined the amendment ‘in the name of Almighty God and in his presence.’ It is a curious fact that the phrase which gave so much offence to the supporters of the bill was inserted at the instance of two divines distinguished for their Southern sympathies. Mrs. Stowe, in a letter to Sumner, February 23, stated the interest which her father, her husband, and her brothers, as well as herself, had taken in the petition, and urged a well—arranged plan at Washington to give impressiveness to its presentation.

3 Sumner thought the caution of those in charge of the petition ill-advised in intrusting it to Everett rather than to some one who was in full sympathy with its object and disposed to make the most of it. Wilson was of the same opinion.

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