previous next
[194] Sprague, of the United States District Court, for the writ of habeas corpus. Judge Woodbury, however, granted it, and sat for the hearing in the Circuit Court room, afterwards occupied for many years by the Municipal Court.1 The judge was unfriendly and brusque,—breaking out, when Sewall in a quiet way habitual with him made the point that slavery did not exist in Massachusetts, with the exclamation, accompanied by an emphatic gesture, ‘Yes, but there is slavery in the Union; and Massachusetts is yet in the Union, tank God!’2 The room was crowded, chiefly with the claimant's supporters, and this un-judicial outburst was received with applause. Sumner insisted on the prisoner's discharge, maintaining that Commissioner Hallett's warrant charging Sims with assaulting the officer when arrested was defective, and that Marshal Devens's conduct—on which he commented at length—was illegal in not returning the warrant, but holding it as a cover to defeat a State criminal process against Sims which the prisoner's friends had procured in order to hold him against Commissioner Curtis's order of rendition. Sumner, as he began, said that the prisoner, though under arrest for seven days, and carried from place to place, had now for the first time the privilege of looking on the face of a judge,—an allusion to the unjudicial and unconstitutional powers delegated to commissioners under the Fugitive Slave Act. A discharge was refused; and this was the last effort to save Sims.

In the session of Congress 1850-1851 the partisans of the Compromise measures—mostly members from slave States— subscribed a compact pledging themselves to maintain the settlement effected by these measures, and not to support as candidates for President and Vice-President, or for members of Congress or of any State legislature, ‘any man of whatever party who is not known to be opposed to the disturbance of the settlement aforesaid, and to the renewal in any form of agitation upon the subject of slavery.’3 The only Whig member from

1 In March, R. H. Dana, Jr., and Sumner drew a bill to secure the rights of persons claimed as fugitive slaves, particularly with the view of applying the statute of 1843 to proceedings under the new Fugitive Slave Act; and it was presented to a committee of the Legislature. Adams's ‘Biography’ of Dana, vol. i. p. 184.

2 It was described as ‘a mere political clap-trap speech, intended for the Southern market.’ (Adams's ‘Biography’ of Dana, vol. i. p. 191.) The writer was present, and well remembers the scene.

3 Giddings's ‘History of the Rebellion,’ pp 348, 349. Among the signers were Howell Cobb, H. S. Foote, A. H. Stephens, R. Toombs, and J. B. Thompson.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Massachusetts (Massachusetts, United States) (2)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1851 AD (1)
1850 AD (1)
1843 AD (1)
March (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: