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Chapter 35: Massachusetts and the compromise.—Sumner chosen senator.—1850-1851.

ZZZr. Webster's speech of March 7 was received by Northern members of Congress with general disapproval,1 and by the people of Massachusetts with surprise and indignation.2 The Whig press of New England, with rare exceptions, condemned his ‘unexpected movement’3 and at first only one Whig newspaper4 in Massachusetts, outside of Boston, cordially approved it. If a direct popular vote could have been taken on the Fugitive Slave bill, or on the Compromise as a whole, it is safe to say that nine tenths, perhaps nineteen twentieths, of his Whig constituents, excluding those resident or doing business in Boston, would have rejected it.5

The mercantile and manufacturing interests were the first in the free States to acquiesce in the Compromise, and from acquiescence they soon passed to open and aggressive support.6 The South, and not the West as now, was the principal purchaser of Northern products; and the threat was common with slaveholders and compromisers in both sections that a withdrawal of Southern custom was the sure penalty of further

1 Boston Atlas, March 9, 13, 14, 1850; Courier, March 11.

2 His biographer, G. T. Curtis, admits this adverse opinion, vol. II. p. 410.

3 The rumor, which anticipated the speech in the last days of February, was not credited. (BostonAtlas,’ March 1.) The Southern leaders had been advised of the tenor of the speech two weeks before it was delivered. (A. II. Stephens's ‘Life,’ by Johnston and Browne, p. 250.) Webster, as early as January 21, admitted Clay to a confidence as to his purpose which he withheld from his own people. G. T. Curtis's ‘Life of Webster,’ vol. II. p. 397.

4 The Newburyport Herald.

5 The Boston ‘Atlas,’ March 16, June 17, stated the number of New England newspapers approving the speech as six against seventy disapproving it. The religious press in New England with one accord condemned it.

6 Von Holst, vol. III. pp. 505, 515, 556, 557. Theodore Parker, in a sermon on the Nebraska bill, Feb. 12, 1854 (Works, vol. v. pp. 266, 267), described the Whigs as ‘the money party.’

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