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[231]

The decisive rout of the Whigs was due to the support of the Compromise and of Webster by the party in Boston, and its ambiguous position in other parts of the State.1 The ‘Courier’ and ‘Advertiser,’ which had insisted that the Fugitive Slave law was a part of Whig policy, had repelled Whig voters who would not acquiesce in its inhuman provisions. Webster during the summer was writing and speaking in favor of the Compromise. The Free Soilers, their speakers and newspapers, drew materials from his speeches and letters, and from the two Boston journals, using them effectively in creating public opinion. The ‘Atlas’ endeavored, on the other hand, to hold the antislavery Whigs by insisting that the Compromise was not an issue, and that the Whigs were not as a party committed to it. The Whigs after the election fell into a contention as to the cause of their defeat. The ‘Atlas’ attributed it to the ‘Courier,’ the ‘Advertiser,’ and Webster, and those journals put the responsibility on the ‘Atlas,’—maintaining that Whig success could be achieved only by a faithful and cordial support of Webster and the Compromise.2

The Free Soilers kept the senatorship in view during the canvass, and their purpose to secure it was well understood by their allies3 But they named no candidate, and in their newspapers there was only a casual mention of names, as of S. C. Phillips, Sumner, and Adams. Sumner's name was, however, freely mentioned in the Free Soil and Democratic caucuses as the one altogether likely to be brought forward in the event of success. His speech in Faneuil Hall at the close of the canvass, as stated before, placed him in the front; and as soon as the result of the election was known, opinion tended to him far more than to any one else. At length it settled on him altogether,—a unanimity which was a popular inspiration, not a result at all worked up by any personal admirers. He was among the Free Soil leaders who had been Whigs least obnoxious to the Democrats, as he had never been a partisan of Whig policy, and in Whig conventions had taken part only to press resolutions against slavery.

Seth Webb, Jr., an active Free Soiler, on the morning of the day after the election, left a memorandum in Sumner's office

1 Emancipator and Republican, Boston Atlas, November 14 and 15. Dr. Bailey wrote to Sumner, November 27, ‘You have whipped Webster.’

2 Advertiser, November 18. 21, 22; Courier, November 15, December 16.

3 Emancipator and Republican, August 22 and 29.

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