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Chapter 37: the national election of 1852.—the Massachusetts constitutional convention.—final defeat of the coalition.— 1852-1853.

During the years 1851-1853, Whigs and Democrats acted in concert for the suppression of antislavery agitation. Forty-four members of Congress, in January, 1851, under the lead of Henry Clay and Alexander H. Stephens, pledged themselves, as already seen, to resist any disturbance of the Compromise, or a renewal of agitation upon the subject of slavery.1 At the beginning of the next session, in December, 1851, the caucus of Whig members affirmed, almost unanimously, the Compromise Acts to be ‘a final settlement, in principle and substance, of the dangerous and exciting subjects which they embrace.’2 The House, April 5, 1852, by a vote of one hundred to sixty-five, declared the Compromise—laying emphasis on the Fugitive Slave Act—to be a final adjustment and permanent settlement. In June, 1852, in conventions held in Baltimore, the Democrats nominated Franklin Pierce for President, whose only conspicuous merit was subserviency to slavery; and the Whigs, General Winfield Scott. The Whig convention, controlled by considerations of availability, set aside Fillmore, who better than any one represented the Compromise, and Webster, who, notwithstanding the eloquent appeals of Rufus Choate, had only a feeble support among the delegates. Both parties in their conventions, in language quite alike, affirmed in their platforms the Compromise to be a final settlement of the slavery question, and declared their purpose to resist any further agitation concerning it.3 The candidates before both conventions

1 Ante, p. 194.

2 The Whig members from Massachusetts were reported to have voted in caucus as follows: for the Compromise, G. T. Davis, Duncan, and Thompson; against it, Fowler, Goodrich, and Scudder.

3 Strangely enough, the Massachusetts delegation, including Henry L. Dawes, since senator, voted entire for the platform. Justin S. Morrill, a delegate from Vermont, since senator from that State, voted for it.

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