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[101] constitutional methods only; and instead of starting an independent movement, they sought in their first effort to put the party to which they belonged on the same plane of sentiment and action where they themselves stood. With this body of men at this period Sumner allied himself, taking the first step in his active political career.1

This brief statement of the national contest which resulted in the annexation of Texas is sufficient to introduce a particular reference to the course of events in Massachusetts. Here the tone of resistance and defiance was stronger than in any other State. The people had inherited a Puritan repugnance to slavery, and they had been instructed and alarmed as to the Texas scheme by their first moralist and their veteran statesman,—Dr. Channing, and John Quincy Adams. They had, in every form in which public opinion can be expressed, denounced the conspiracy of the propagandists of slavery, and declared their purpose to resist it to the end; and as its success drew near, their protests were uttered with the depth and fervor of religious conviction. The Legislature, at the beginning of its session in 1845, affirmed in resolutions the invalidity of the proposed act of annexation, and the perpetual opposition of the State to the further extension of slavery. A convention was held at Faneuil Hall, January 29. The call invited the people of the State to attend without distinction of party; and although a few of the advanced antislavery men were present, the greater part of the delegates were of the conservative class. They included lawyers, merchants, and public men who had long held the confidence of the people. The address, one of the ablest in the political history of the State, was prepared by Mr. Webster, Charles Allen, and Stephen C. Phillips.2 It declared that ‘Massachusetts denounces the iniquitous project in its inception, and in every stage of its progress; in its means and its end, and in all the purposes and ’

1 He had already, from his youth, in a more private way,—by correspondence, and contributions to the newspapers,—assisted in the antislavery debate. See Index of the first two volumes of this Memoir, under title ‘Slavery.’

2 The original manuscript, with the parts in Mr. Webster's handwriting, is in the possession of Stephen H. Phillips, son of Stephen C. (‘Reunion of the Free-Soilers of 1848– 1852,’ held June 28, 1888, pp. 30-32.) Mr. Webster was said to have read the call, and promised to attend the convention, but was called to Washington before it met. (Boston ‘Republican,’ Oct. 16, 1849, containing a full history of the period 1845-1848 so far as it relates to the antislavery conflict in Massachusetts, probably contributed by Henry Wilson.) Mr. Wilson reviewed this period in a speech in the Massachusetts Senate, Feb. 24, 1852 (Boston ‘Common-wealth,’ March 1, 1852), and in a letter to L. V. Bell (‘Commonwealth,’ July 14, 1852).

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