previous next
[205] agitation against slavery. Capitalists were made to believe that the only hope of restoring the higher duties which had been reduced by the tariff of 1846 lay in submission to slaveholding demands. There were, indeed, honest fears with conservative minds of what the South might do in its madness; but material considerations inspired largely the harangues which insisted that the Compromise was essential to national peace and the Union. The mercantile and manufacturing interests, stronger in Boston than elsewhere in the State, with banking houses in State Street, counting-rooms in Milk Street, homes in Beacon Street or near by, and factories in Lowell, rallied promptly to Webster's support, bringing with them well-established journals of the city, and capitalists and politicians in all parts of the State, who from social or financial connections naturally followed the lead of those interests. Webster's personal magnetism. the authority of his name, pride in his career, the habit of deference to all he said, was a potent influence with many generous minds, swaying them against their natural instincts and their better sense.1 The Compromise was promptly approved in a public letter to him, signed by several hundreds of the most conspicuous citizens,2—among them merchants like Eliot, Perkins, Fearing, Appleton, Haven, Amory, Sturgis, Thayer, and Hooper; lawyers like Choate, Lunt, B. R. Curtis, and G. T. Curtis; physicians like Jackson and Bigelow; scholars like Ticknor, Everett, Prescott, Sparks, Holmes, and Felton; divines like Moses Stuart and Leonard Woods. Its passage was signalized by the firing of one hundred guns on the Common.

Webster's partisans, such was their intensity of feeling, very soon obtained the mastery of the Whig organization of the city, and compelled dissenters to submit to the nominations they dictated. The proprietors of the ‘Atlas’ opposed the Compromise while it was pending, but maintained disingenuously that the Whigs were not responsible for it, and that they were the true antislavery party. This journal had a following in the

1 Dana wrote in his diary, June 25, 1854, after the repeal of the Missouri Compromise: ‘The change in public sentiment on the slave question is very great. . . . The truth is, Daniel Webster was strong enough to subjugate for a time the moral sentiment of New England. He was defeated, killed, and now is detected. He deceived half the North, but they are undeceived. He does not stand as he did six months ago.’ Adams's ‘Biography’ of Dana. p. 286.

2 Boston Courier, April 3, 1850; Boston Advertiser, April 3. The last—named newspaper, by a slip of the pen, called the signers Mr. Webster's ‘retainers.’

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.
New England (United States) (1)
Lowell (Massachusetts, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

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.
June 25th, 1854 AD (1)
April 3rd, 1850 AD (1)
1846 AD (1)
April 3rd (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: