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[410] Sumner was leased that his friend was to have an opportunity, in a personal defence, to maintain before a high tribunal the antislavery cause, and reversing positions, to put the pro-slavery prosecutors on trial. He gave Parker suggestions for his argument, and pointed out historical analogies. Had it proceeded to a final issue, it would have been a cause celebre; but unhappily the indictment was quashed on a technicality, and the prosecution went no further. Those who started it were quite content with its failure at this stage, for they shrunk from facing an adversary so intrepid and so well armed. Sumner wrote to Parker:—

I am glad you have been indicted,—pardon me!—for the sake of our cause and your own fame. Of course you will defend yourself, and answer the whilom speaker1 at Faneuil Hall face to face. . . . Upon the whole, I regard your indictment as a call to a new parish, with B. R. Curtis and B. F. Hallett2 as deacons, and a pulpit higher than the Strasburg steeple. .. Of course you must speak for yourself before Pontius Pilate. I think you should make the closing speech, and review the whole movement in Boston which culminated in your indictment, and arraign the intent and action, of course touching upon the courts. The opening counsel might argue the constitutionality of the Act, though I hesitate to give the judges another opportunity to drive a nail into our coffin. Whoever you have to speak, at any stage, should be able to do something historical, for the time will belong to History. God send you a good deliverance!

Near the end of the session the truce on the slavery question was suddenly broken. At noon, February 23, Toucey of Connecticut, a Democratic Compromise senator, called up a bill reported by the judiciary committee less than a week before, which provided for the transfer to the federal courts of suits pending in State courts against federal officers and other persons for acts done under any law or color of any law of the United States. The bill, with no express mention of fugitiveslave cases, was well understood to be designed to protect persons assisting in the execution of the Fugitive Slave Act from suits for damages in State courts, particularly by withdrawing the cases to more friendly tribunals, in order to counteract the effect of the personal liberty laws of the States. The spirit of the federal courts at the North was at the time pro-slavery,

1 An allusion to an encounter between B. R. Curtis and Parker in November, 1850, in Faneuil Hall, when the latter offered to answer a question put by the former to the latter, who was not supposed to be present.

2 United States District Attorney.

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