the day of the meeting whether he would be able to be present.
His strong will, and an interval of strength which fortunately came to him, gave the people of Massachusetts
another and last opportunity to look upon his venerable form.
Coming from Quincy
with his son, he took tea at Dr. H. I. Bowditch
's, where were Andrew
, and others interested in the object of the meeting, and then went to the hall.
He was received with loud and continued cheering as he entered, and conducted with difficulty through the crowd to the platform.1
The audience was immense, as journals of different types of sentiment concurred in reporting, packing the hall to its utmost capacity, and being the largest it had ever yet contained.
The great attraction was undoubtedly the expected presence of the Ex-President
When he had taken the chair, he spoke with a weak and tremulous voice, beginning with a reference to his presence at a meeting in the same place forty years before, which was held to consider the seizure of American seamen on board the ‘Chesapeake
’ by a British man-of-war, when Elbridge Gerry
, then aged and infirm, said on taking the chair that if he had had but one day to live, he would still have been present.
Then, in a solemn and impressive manner, he proceeded: ‘It is a question whether the Commonwealth
is to maintain its independence or not. It is a question whether your and my native Commonwealth is capable of protecting the men who are under its laws or not.’
After Dr. Howe
had related the circumstances of the abduction, and resolutions offered by Andrew
, the secretary, had been adopted, Sumner
He had made no preparation, and in taking a public part at the meeting yielded to pressure from Andrew
In the course of his remarks, he said:—
And now, Mr. President, what is the duty of Massachusetts?
It has been stated that that government is best where an injury to the humblest individual is resented as an injury to the Commonwealth; and he who has lately been returned to slavery was as much entitled to all the privileges of citizenship in this State as you, Mr. President, covered with honors as you are. Some twenty years ago, in the State of New York, an individual, not a colored person, was kidnapped, carried away, and killed.
That outrage caused an immense excitement where it took place, which finally spread to New England.
The abduction of William Morgan—of that single citizen!—by the Free Masons of his own State aroused the Northern States.
and even called into existence a political party.
Now an individual has been stolen,—we have not heard that he has been slain,—but he has been carried back to