exigencies confronting them, could be content with making merely a moral demonstration.
Standing between two parties well balanced, they could use their power as an independent organization to force one or the other to do their work, and availing themselves of favorable opportunities could secure the election of senators and representatives in Congress fully committed to their principles.
If they had been satisfied with merely bearing their testimony they would have been met only with derision; but they inspired different sentiments when they made their power felt, sometimes by voting for the candidate of the party with whom they were most in sympathy, and sometimes by a combination with one of the two great parties.
They had already in this way won a victory in New Hampshire
over Democratic subserviency by joining with the Whigs
in the election of a Whig governor and of John P. Hale
Early in 1849, holding with only two votes the balance of power in the Legislature of Ohio
, they joined with the Democrats in the election of Democratic judges, in the repeal of the infamous laws against negroes, and the election of Salmon P. Chase
to the Senate.2
Similar co-operation in Connecticut
resulted in the election of Free Soil members of Congress, or of Democrats who were pledged to Free Soil principles.
On the other hand, Free Soilers in Massachusetts
for Congress, although he was at the time a voter and candidate of the Whig party.
If political parties are only means to ends,— and certainly they are no more,—such co-operation or temporary connection with either of the two national parties was judicious and patriotic.
The time was sure to come when it was to take place in Massachusetts
, where the Free Soilers
and Democrats exceeded the Whigs
by twelve thousand voters, unless the latter by their representatives in Congress and their policy in the State
assumed an unequivocal position in favor of antislavery principles and measures.
Extracts from Sumner
's letters show his spirit and expectations at the time.
To James A. Briggs
, Cleveland, Ohio
, Oct. 18, 1848, he wrote:—