listened, both on account of its intellectual power and its diction, and also for its tone of honorable sentiment, giving dignity and elevation to a subject which in the hands of others had seemed ephemeral and partisan.
When the convention closed its session its work appeared altogether likely to secure popular approval.
The Democrats and Free Soilers, who had co-operated in making the new Constitution, had at command a majority of ten thousand and more votes.
Some of the changes were so reasonable that a portion of the Whigs
were indisposed to a contest.
The party, however, in its convention in the autumn declared against it in formal resolutions, but without any expectation of defeating it. Abbott Lawrence
and one or two other speakers commented unfavorably upon it in Whig meetings, but they were quite unequal to the array of public speakers who in carefully prepared arguments were setting forth its merits in almost every village of the State
Late in October, however, the Whigs
found new allies, and at once the face of affairs was changed.
Two eminent Free Soilers, Palfrey
who had submitted to rather than opposed the coalition, and who had lost seats in the convention, came out publicly against the scheme,—the former in a pamphlet, October 28, signed ‘A Free Soiler from the Start,’2
and the latter in an address, November 5, at Quincy
They drew away a few of their old friends from its support; but their influence was chiefly felt in the new spirit and vigor which they gave to its opponents.
The Whigs at once put forth every effort to carry the State
They sent speakers to almost every town, and distributed Palfrey
's pamphlet in every direction.
They set forth to the cities and large towns the loss of power which assailed them, alarmed conservatives with the radical changes proposed, particularly in the judiciary, and quieted progressives with the promise that they would at once initiate by special amendments all desirable reforms; but their most effective as well as fairest point was that the Constitution
was made by a party, and on some points expressed partisan aims rather than the permanent and common convictions of the people.