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[111] represented its interests and spirit, and it remained loyal to him from the beginning of his career until 1853, when its power over the politics of the State was broken by the disruption of the Whig party. But made as he was and fitted as he was to represent the ruling class of Boston at the time when he entered on public life, his part was not to be that of a leader in the impending conflict with American slavery. This was evident when lie assured the Abolitionists at the time of his first election that he ‘should not regard it as any peculiar part of his duty to agitate the subject of slavery;’ 1 and his subsequent action was in harmony with this declaration.

The Whigs had before them, as an example for an opposition to an unjust war, the conduct of the English Whigs,—Chatham, Camden, Burke, Fox, and Barre,—in their denunciation of the American war and their refusal to vote supplies.2 The spirit of those exemplars was shown in the epithets which the younger Pitt heaped upon it in Parliament while it was in progress, calling it ‘the most accursed, wicked, barbarous, cruel, unnatural, unjust, and diabolical war.’ There were, indeed, among the Whig members some—as Hudson of Massachusetts, Corwin of Ohio, Severance of Maine, and Garrett Davis of Kentucky—who were unsparing in their condemnation of the Administration; but even their votes were not always consistent with their speeches. Giddings stood out in fearless and uncompromising resistance by voice and vote at every stage of the iniquity; but very few were equal to his heroism. The course of the mass of the Whigs in both Houses was to the end neither one of sympathetic support nor of effective opposition; it was one of partisan tactics, rather than of patriotic resistance. Their policy, as it appeared in debate and in their votes, was not so much to save the country from the dishonor of an unjust war as to seize every opportunity to put their opponents at a political disadvantage. At one moment they denounced the invasion of Mexico; at another they supplied the means to carry it on. They berated the President, and yet sought a candidate to be his successor among the generals who had executed his worst orders. After all, the audacity of the Democrats, who had no scruples against aggressive war, the extension of slavery, and the dismemberment of

1 Winthrop's ‘Addresses and Speeches,’ vol. i. p. 634.

2 In this connection, the action of Cobden at the time of the Crimean war, and Bright's withdrawal from the Cabinet after the bombardment of Alexandria, may be recalled.

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