event or upon any pretext.
He had not turned his thoughts to the vital question of the time, and professed no theory concerning it; and he did not comprehend the machinations of those who sought to extend and perpetuate slavery.
If he was not an opponent of slavery on moral and political grounds,—as certainly he was not,—neither was he its partisan after the manner of Calhoun
The policy to which he came as President
, so far as he seemed to have one, was to suspend action by Congress, and allow the people of the territories to settle the question for themselves, without influence from the national executive; to admit the State
, whether slavery was established or prohibited in its constitution; and to discourage new plans for either consolidating or weakening the slave-power.
He interposed no obstruction to the admission of California
when, to the surprise of both sides, the inhabitants formed a constitution which expressly prohibited slavery.
Temporizing and drifting, and sure to fail, as such a policy was, this veteran soldier stands, for a Southern man of that period, in a fair light before his countrymen;1
and when by his death the government passed to Fillmore
, with Webster
, then bitter in his hostility to Northern sentiments, as the head of the new Cabinet, and Clay
as the leader of compromise in the Senate, there were no sincerer mourners for the late President
than the antislavery men of the free States.
Whig partisans were very bitter, during the canvass, against the Free Soil
seceders from their ranks.
They set up the claim that theirs was the true Free Soil or antislavery party, and denounced the Free Soilers
who had left them, as renegades and apostates, and in some parts of the North
invoked against them the mob spirit.2
They seemed to have a peculiar antipathy to those who remained loyal to the faith they themselves had once professed.
they spared no terms of reproach against their former allies, paying hardly any attention to the Democratic party, and directing all their energies against the supporters of Van Buren
Their organ in Boston