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[402] candidates) to less than fourteen thousand, and the Free Soilers from twenty-nine thousand to less than seven thousand; and electing Gardner and the entire State ticket, all the members of Congress, all the State senators, and almost every member of the House. The Free Soil element in the Legislature was so large, and the antislavery sentiment so predominant, as to make Wilson's election as senator, though his connection with the new party was little more than nominal, altogether probable,—an event which took place in February by a very large majority in the House, but with only the required majority in the Senate.

The Whig leaders who had resisted the fusion paid dearly for their perversity. They might have put one of their own number in the vacant seat in the Senate instead of opening to Wilson the way to it. In no other State except Delaware did the Know Nothings obtain control, and they soon passed away before the vital question of the day.1 Their methods were unrepublican, and they failed in all their schemes; but they did good service in breaking party ties and preparing the way for a union of all opposed to American slavery.

This final dissolution of the Whig party in Massachusetts, whatever may have been its advantages at one rime as a conservative force, was an event in every way auspicious. With its organization directed by the social and commercial interests of Boston, and its policy inspired by the journals of that city, there could not while it lasted be any effective union of the people of the State against the aggressive and advancing slave-power. To be sure, nothing suited to the exigency, or answering to patriotic hopes, had in the recent election taken its place; but a political chaos had come which left the conscience of the people free to act, and the way open for the formation of a Republican party in the State.

Nominally Sumner had now no party at his back except the handful of Free Soilers who had voted for their ticket after their candidate Wilson had left them; but no obstructive organization now stood between him and the popular sentiment, which was in full accord with him. Even the Legislature, which contained only one or two members chosen under the name of

1 Henry A. Wise's election as governor, in May, 1855, broke their power in Virginia. Their national council, meeting at Philadelphia the next month, was rent with the slavery question, and after that the order rapidly declined.

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