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[192] force solely for the service of claimants; and by an unusual, if not unprecedented, provision anticipated the abhorrence which awaited the Act from a free and Christian people, ‘by commanding all good citizens to aid and assist in its prompt and efficient execution.’1 No law so barbarous in aim and machinery, so hostile in every line to personal liberty, has ever dishonored the legislation of a civilized people.

The Fugitive Slave law, with its provisions and penalties more effective than those of the Act of 1793, and the increased pro-slavery spirit of the period, stimulated slaveholders to reclaim their escaped slaves, some of whom had been living for a long time in the free States and had intermarried with free persons; and the hardship, cruelty, and violence which attended the reclamations aroused deep indignation in the North. Southern masters at once put the law into execution in the cities of New York and Philadelphia and other places,—in some cases succeeding in recovering their negroes with little opposition or excitement, but in others encountering a resolute contest in the courts, or forcible resistance carried sometimes to a fatal result. In Syracuse, N. Y., where the population was altogether in sympathy with the negroes, a rescue planned by prominent citizens was effected.

The partisans of compromise set their hearts on a triumph in Boston, the seat of antislavery agitation. A month after Congress had adjourned, a meeting was held in Faneuil Hall, with C. F. Adams as chairman, and R. H. Dana, Jr., as mover of resolutions, to denounce the obnoxious law and express sympathy with the negroes against whose liberty it was aimed; but only Free Soilers and Abolitionists took part in it.2 About the same time, a slave claimant from Virginia sought to secure William and Ellen Crafts, who had recently escaped, and on arriving in Boston had found wise and brave protectors in Theodore Parker, Dr. Henry I. Bowditch, Ellis Gray Loring,

1 Von Holst says (vol. III. pp. 554, 555): ‘The law was so hideous that it called forth from the friends of freedom a cry of indignation and rage,’ and ‘no other single measure did so much to convince the North of the necessity of breaking the power of the slavocracy, so much to steel the nerves and hearts of the people for the final struggle.’ The Act repealing this law was signed by President Lincoln, June 28, 1864. Sumner carried the repeal in the Senate against Democratic and some Republican resistance. Works, vol. VIII. pp. 403-418.

2 The venerable Josiah Quincy addressed a letter to the meeting, expressing sympathy with its purpose. Sumner was appointed one of the legal committee for the protection of alleged fugitives. On the committee also were S. E Sewall, Dana, John C. Park, and William Minot. They called C. G. Loring to their aid.

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