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[195] New England who signed this paper was Samuel A. Eliot, of Boston. Mr. Appleton, his successor, alone of the Massachusetts delegation, voted that the Compromise, including the Fugitive Slave law, was a final and permanent settlement.1

The speech of Daniel Webster in the Senate, March 7, 1850, in favor of the Compromise measures, was a surprise to the people of Massachusetts. It was in conflict with the principles they had uniformly maintained, as well as with his general course as the representative of the State.2 He was not, like Clay, the natural supporter of compromise.3 He had repeatedly affirmed his convictions against the extension of slavery and the increase of slave representation in Congress; had asserted for himself precedence of others in the support of the principle of the Wilmot Proviso, and had even voted for its application to the territories acquired from Mexico, whose fate was again in question.4 He now announced that he should vote against the insertion of the prohibition in any bill or resolution providing a government for those territories. He defended this change of position by maintaining that Nature and physical geography had excluded slavery from them as much as from ‘Mars Hill or the side of the White Mountains;’ that the character of every foot of land owned by the nation, in regard to its being free or slave territory, had been fixed by an irrepealable law beyond the action of the government; and that therefore the prohibition in such a case would be only a taunt and reproach to the citizens of the Southern States, and the evidence of supreme power exercised only to wound their pride. It was not right or patriotic, as he claimed, to insist on an unnecessary restriction which was obnoxious and disagreeable to the South, and regarded by its people as derogatory to their equality as members of the Union.5 He shut his eyes to the historical

1 April 5, 1852.

2 See Sumner's letter to John Bigelow, May 22, 1850, post, p. 215. Still, Webster's efforts in Massachusetts in 1846 and 1847 to prevent slavery becoming the main political issue, and his lukewarm censures of the Mexican War, as well as his ‘Creole’ letter of an earlier period, had already weakened Sumner's confidence in him. Longfellow was hardly surprised at the speech of March 7. He wrote in his journal, March 9, 1850: ‘Yet what has there been in Webster's life to lead us to think that he would take any high moral ground on this slavery question?’

3 he wrote July 21, 1848: ‘You need not fear that I shall vote for any compromises, or do anything inconsistent with the past.’ Curtis's ‘Life of Webster,’ vol. II. p. 342.

4 Lodge's ‘Life of Webster,’ pp. 292, 321; Wilson's ‘Rise and Fall of the Slave Power,’ vol. II. p. 241; G. T. Curtis's ‘Life of Webster,’ vol. II. p. 307, note.

5 Webster's Works, vol. v. pp. 350-352, 381-385, 421; vol. VI. pp. 568-573. See contrary doctrine as to the Northwestern territory, in his speech in the Senate Jan. 26, 1830, vol. III. p. 278.

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